benny blanco Serves Ali Wong His Spiciest Food Takes

benny blanco

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When he’s not in the studio serving up tasty hits for the likes of Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, and just about every other pop star on planet Earth, benny blanco is dishing out even tastier feasts to Hollywood’s creative class. The highly connected super-producer loves cooking for his crew so much that he wrote a whole book about it. Open Wide: A Cookbook for Friends, is part food bible, part dinner party manual, and a total guide to living the good life. Here, blanco’s friend Ali Wong (we told you, he knows everyone) finds out what benny’s got cooking.


TUESDAY 1:15 PM FEB. 6, 2024 LA

ALI WONG: So Benny, as you know, I first heard about you through Jake Schreier, who’s done a bunch of your music videos and who shot 6 out of the 10 episodes of Beef. I don’t know if you know this, but that show had a lot of challenges, and you were such a bright light during shooting for him, because he would always come to set so happy after having seen you. He’d show me pictures of all the food you made, and would say, “I don’t know how a person can be so good at two things.” Because I didn’t know who you were, so he told me that you were this incredible music producer, but would show us pictures of your toro bowls and your steak. Then when I got to know you, your food exceeded my expectations. But I’m curious, what dish of yours are you most proud of?

BENNY BLANCO: Honestly, the thing that I’m the most proud of is giving everyone their best experience. Rather than being like, “This is the best thing I cook,” I want to talk to you at a dinner party and be like that old grandma that remembers everything you like, and then the next time you come, there’s bowls of all of it there. My joy in life is giving people an experience where they feel like the president when they come in, like everything was catered just for them. It’s like making a song to me. Anytime I make music, the first thing I’m doing is, I play it for someone and I’m like, “Huh? So? So?” And in the same way, when you make someone a plate of food and they take the first bite, all you want to do is see their cum face.

WONG: You want them to finger themselves.

BLANCO: Yeah! I want all my friends to finger themselves every time they eat with me. So if you like uni, I’m going to give you uni and you’re going to finger yourself. If Jake likes steak, he’s going to get steak up his ass.

WONG: You’re a great cook, and so is [music producer] Emile Haynie. Why do you think music producers are such good cooks? Or do you think it’s a self-selecting thing where you’ve just become friends with the music producers that happen to also be great cooks?

BLANCO: I’m not sure, but I will tell you that as a producer, when you step into a room with an artist, you are a therapist. Your job is to make this person feel comfortable enough to pour their goddamn heart out. 

WONG: So you’re like a natural host, and sensitive to people’s needs.

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BLANCO: You have to be. And cooking is creating. I’m the worst baker in the world because it’s so precise, but with cooking, you put a little bit of this in, you put a little bit of that in, and you’re putting on a show.

WONG: It has a lot to do with instinct.

BLANCO: Yeah. You’re putting things together. Production is all about putting the best parts of this and that together and making concoctions, and food is no different. It’s all creativity. Don’t you love cooking?

WONG: Yes, but I’m not like you. 

BLANCO: I’ve had your food and it’s great.

WONG: That’s funny, because when you came over, I was still getting everything ready, and you asked me, “Are you nervous?”

BLANCO: I did?

WONG: [Laughs] Yeah! I think most people who cook for you are really nervous.

BLANCO: Were you nervous? 

WONG: No, because I had a plan and I set the bar low on purpose. 

BLANCO: It was delicious.

WONG: I was very flattered because you ate the meat to the bone. 

BLANCO: You can tell how someone was raised by how they eat the meat.

WONG: For sure.

BLANCO: You can tell if someone was raised really wealthy or not by if they eat leftovers and how they eat their meat.

WONG: If they eat meat in the tail. 

BLANCO: I rip the tail open.

WONG: And if you can also get it all out in one piece, that’s a skill. Do you think someone can be a great artist but have terrible taste in food?

BLANCO: Of course! Some artists are so unbelievable at being an artist that there’s no room for them to even know how to do anything else. They can’t even tie their shoes.

WONG: I know. It’s frustrating, though. I know so many comics who are really squeamish about oysters, which to me is so basic. And they prefer white meat over dark meat.

BLANCO: That’s crazy.

WONG: I expose them to so much good food and they expose me to the absolute worst food. I would not be friends with them if they didn’t make me laugh so hard. Have you managed to convert a lot of people’s palates?

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BLANCO: I have. Jake is a perfect example. Jake liked food, but he didn’t care about food.

WONG: I loved one of the places that you introduced me to, that place in Flushing [in Queens, New York].

BLANCO: Oh, Joe’s Steam Rice Roll. 

WONG: It’s so incredible. I don’t know how you found that place, but what a discovery. The process of watching the skill of that person cooking, he must have been doing that for years and years.

BLANCO: That man is Picasso. And it’s like $1.50, and it’s the best thing you’ve ever had.

WONG: But just watching the process, if someone doesn’t appreciate that, it’s a little tough. If they eat there and they don’t like it, we’re not going to be very close.

BLANCO: Yeah, they must like chicken breast. Chicken breast is insane. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever had.

WONG: You are the one who said, “I equate it to hell.”

BLANCO: You only eat chicken breasts if you’re on a diet and don’t want to like food.

WONG: Just do the thigh and skip the ice cream or something. It’s not worth it.

BLANCO: Is there any person in the world that actually likes chicken breast?

WONG: It reminds me of a women’s power brunch at a hotel where they’re also serving a salad with shredded carrots and Italian dressing.

BLANCO: I hate Italian dressing. 

WONG: What happens when someone you enjoy personally makes bad food for you?

BLANCO: You smile and say it’s delicious. You lie through your teeth. I’ve actually had meals where I have to spit it out and put it into a paper towel.

WONG: Oh my gosh.

BLANCO: One time I was eating a meal that was so bad at one of my friend’s houses that I took it, put it into my hand, and put it in my pockets, no napkin or anything.

WONG: Just raw-dog.

BLANCO: Yeah. I left with two pockets full of food.

WONG: What kind of food was it? 

BLANCO: You know when people try stuff that’s different and they’re like, “This is Mexican Chinese food”? They try recipes that sound like AI created them.

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WONG: Is fusion always a red flag? 

BLANCO: If a restaurant is selling more than one cuisine it’s a red flag. 

WONG: Even if they have more than two kinds of Asian cuisine, it’s a red flag.

BLANCO: Here’s my red flag. Whatever the cuisine is, if I go into the restaurant and everybody isn’t the same ethnicity of that cuisine, then I don’t want to be there.

WONG: Yeah, me neither. It’s also a really good sign when everyone there is elderly.

BLANCO: Yeah. I was really lucky. I grew up eating a lot of really strange foods because I grew up in a melting pot. So I just thought everyone goes to the kebab shop, or everyone goes and gets El Salvadorian chicken. Except I didn’t have sushi until I was 18. The first time I ever had sushi was at Sushi Park.

WONG: Oh my god. You went from zero to a thousand.

BLANCO: It was insane. But my dirty little secret is I love grocery store sushi.

WONG: What? With that plastic green fake grass and the pink ginger and the neon green radioactive wasabi?

BLANCO: It’s just dyed horseradish but I love it.

WONG: It’s kind of like how Panda Express is not Chinese food, but it’s so delicious.

BLANCO: I love Panda Express. 

WONG: I know you like to get high and clean the day after a party. 

BLANCO: That’s true.

WONG: How bad is it when you get the munchies?

BLANCO: I don’t get the munchies. 

WONG: Oh! I get them really bad. 

BLANCO: Really?

WONG: Yes. It always starts off where I’m trying to be healthy, and I’ll make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with Ezekiel bread. But I’m shocked that you don’t have a munchie journey.

BLANCO: I want to eat at all times. When I am eating breakfast, I’m talking about what we’re going to have for lunch. I think about food more than anything else in the world.

WONG: Okay. There’s a Vietnamese dentist from Dallas named Dr. Dane who has the most amazing hot sauce. I can’t live without it. What condiments can you not live without?

BLANCO: You introduced me to her. For those of you who don’t know who Dr. Dane is, one time Ali was like, “One of my friends is coming into town and she’s going to cook for us.” And I was like, great. This woman pulls up with her daughter and 17 suitcases and she pulls them in, opens them up, and there’s garbage bags filled with chicken feet and lemongrass. She cooked an incredible meal. She has a sauce company that’s great. The most important part to having a great kitchen is having the best condiments.

WONG: I agree.

BLANCO: My hot sauce drawer is insane.

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WONG: But there’s too many now. A lot of them are not spicy enough and a lot of them are just straight-up oily.

BLANCO: Yeah. Okay. I like anything with habanero in it. And I love a good vinegar taste. And when I eat, I want to not be able to go somewhere without having gum in my mouth. I want it garlicky and gingery and spicy.

WONG: And fermented.


WONG: How are you going to ensure that your children are not picky eaters?

BLANCO: It’s my biggest fear. Your children are insane. They’re eating Thai desserts with taro and corn and salt in them, and then they’re eating spicy noodles with mackerel. It’s crazy. How did you ensure that your children were worldly eaters?

WONG: You just keep trying stuff all the time, and constantly introduce them to things. Even if they rejected it a week ago, don’t be afraid to introduce it again. Do you have a plan?

BLANCO: I want to cook with them. 

WONG: That’s huge.

BLANCO: I have a garden, so I’d like them to see things from seed to table, and to really understand how much goes into preparing something so they appreciate it. I hate it if anyone wastes anything. I eat everything. When I was younger, my mom would make chicken, and the first day we’d have roast chicken, then day two we’d have chicken fajitas, day three we’d have chicken salad, day four we’d have chicken enchiladas. She’d keep the same thing going for 10 days.

WONG: And you appreciate that. 

BLANCO: Yeah. I feel like people get a little bit nervous when they’re in the driver’s seat, and they shouldn’t, because it’s all experimenting. And yes, sometimes it’s going to come out like shit. 

WONG: There will always be another meal.

BLANCO: Yes, but if I don’t have the best meal every time I eat, I’m depressed. It’s such a waste to me if it’s not a perfect meal.

WONG: Alright, any last words Benny?

BLANCO: What are my words supposed to be?

WONG: Well, I’ll just say I’m so grateful for our friendship, and look forward to your cookbook. I’m just so shocked that you’re doing one because you always say you want to retire, but here you are coming out with another cookbook, and I’m so happy you are because you’re really one of the greatest chefs I know and quite possibly the greatest host I know, too.

BLANCO: You’re a great host, too. 

WONG: I’m a good host. You’re a really, really good host.


Hair: Devante Turnbull. 

Makeup: Melissa Murdick at The Wall Group. 

Photography Assistant: Joey Abreu. 

Fashion Assistant: Ariel Leon-Coeur. 

Tailor: Shirlee Idzakovich. 

Production Assistant: Jordan Mack. 

Location: Simon House. 

Special Thanks: Arrow Rentals.