Music Tastes Good Spotlight: Chef Dawna Bass
music tastes good

The third annual Music Tastes Good festival returns to Long Beach this September with an eclectic lineup including New Order (Their only West coast appearance this year), James BlakeJanelle Monae and many other bands from across the musical spectrum.

The talent isn’t just onstage though. Some of California’s biggest rock star chefs are also on the bill. With the Taste Tent now open to all attendees (not just VIP), concert goers can enjoy the music while sampling food from some of the best chefs, restaurants and pop-ups on the west coast

Collide had the chance to chat with Dawna Bass, chef and co-owner of Under the Sun, Long Beach’s first and only raw vegan café. Still learning everyday through hands-on experience, Dawna is a self-taught raw food chef who strives to create dishes that not only raw foodies and vegans can enjoy but also carnivores, kids, and everyone else in, outside, and in between.

After working as camp photographer and counselor, Dawna moved to Long Beach after summer of 2008. In 2011, she met her partner, Chrissy, and shortly after they began their raw food journey with cold-pressed juice. In 2015, Rainbow Juices opened its own doors. It was then that she discovered that she could easily spend all day in the kitchen, just as she used to love spending her days in the dark room in college, experimenting and making up her own rules. It was the place she felt she belonged, it was peaceful, meditative, and the perfect creative outlet. Though she went vegan at the age of 15, Dawna struggled with an unhealthy relationship towards food since she was a young kid.  Experiencing the effects of raw juice and organic food, her relationship to food changed almost instantaneously. This is when she knew she wanted to somehow inspire others to reach a similar feeling. Raw, organic, vegan food changed her life.

For Dawna, raw vegan cuisine is synonymous with how she wants to live her life: thoughtful, compassionate, growing and flowing with the seasons, ever-changing, unpredictable, and full of life and positivity. She hopes to serve food that satisfies the palate, that you can always feel good about eating, and that contributes to your overall well-being.

Dawna will be at Music Tastes Good on Sunday, day two of the festival.

Favorite Band
Tough questions always! I’ll go with the ones that first come to mind — Bikini Kill, The Cure, Zeppelin, Heart, Aesop Rock, Sleater-Kinney, Crass, Le Tigre, Ani DiFranco. 

Favorite song
“Mint Car” by the Cure, “Rings” by Aesop Rock, “Keep On Livin” by Le Tigre.

First concert
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was a kiddo. I’ve always gone to a lot of concerts since I was a kid, mostly just tagging along with my parents. The first concert of MY choice was probably TLC when I was 15 — and TLC didn’t even show up!

Who do you like to listen to in the kitchen?
When I’m working in the kitchen alone…it depends on the task at hand. If I’m trying to come up with a new recipe, I’ll probably throw on some riot grrl…. something to help me feel all charged up. If I am working on ferments, perhaps I’ll listen to some reggae to just get into a laid back mode. During open hours, lunch rush perhaps, I do not like listening to anything calm. I like it to be energized and poppin!

Who are you most excited to see at Music Tastes Good?
I’m excited to see Santigold though I don’t really listen to her at all. The songs that I have heard, I do like and I can imagine her being a good performer. I am looking forward to seeing The Blow, since I used to listen to them like 15 years ago and never saw them live. I really love Blimes so that’ll be cool. Other than that, I don’t really know a lot of newer music, I’ve just stuck with the bands that I’ve always loved from back in the day. I’ll probably see a few bands that I’ll end up loving and wishing that I had mentioned here.

Is this your first Music Tastes Good?
I have gone to both MTGs in the past. I don’t usually actually attend music festivals, but Long Beach is always doing things a bit differently so I was definitely interested. Plus, SK played last year!

What are you making or what should attendees look for from you at the show?
I am bringing two items — a jalapeño cheese burger and a carrot cake. I decided on these two items because I think they are a good representation of the food i like to make and eat. The burger will have a new cheese slice that I’ve been working on. Who wouldn’t be excited about a piece of raw/vegan cheese!? (haaaaaaaaaa). The carrot cake, though I’m not sure as to what FORM I will be serving it, is a definite hit at the cafe, and something that is not always available. I think it’s that cream cheese frosting that has people all up in a whirl. Or maybe it’s those golden berries that give it that little extra pizazz.

Favorite concert food? Or maybe what would you change about concert food? How would you spice up that stale pretzel or arena hot dog?
I mean, I know we don’t go to concerts to get healthy or even for the food at all, but why can’t there be an option that actually energizes you instead of making you feel heavy and tired?  

At Under the Sun, we create organic raw food meals, desserts, smoothies, and tonic lattes. The desserts are always changing, I introduce new varieties all the time, but definitely you can always count on there being a cheesecake and something chocolatey. Our food menu is pretty eclectic I think, and everything is worth trying! We source a lot of our produce from our very own local farm here in Long Beach, Organic Harvest Gardens. The freshness of that just cannot be beat. 

If you could cook for any artist/musician who would it be?
I would love to make a meal for ANY musician that would then go tell all their friends and family about it! I know some members of No Doubt live in town and I would love to serve them because I used to be OBSESSED as a teenager. 

What would you make them?
I would probably make the burger that I’ll be bringing to MTG.

Music Tastes Good takes place on Sept 29 & 30 at the Marina Green Park in Long Beach.

Tickets are available now

photo by: norsez Oh/Flickr