Riot Grill serves up a renegade feast

Riot Grill serves up a renegade feast
Riot Grill organizer Nadia G, above, and her band, the Menstruators, will perform at the event. “There’s no stinkin’ kale on this menu,” she says. (Jose Rodriguez)

On Friday night in downtown Los Angeles punk rock will be served with a side of sweet fig and prosciutto pizza. The revolution, apparently, will come with cured meats.

A reunited Babes in Toyland, a band that in the late '80s came howling out of the Midwest hellbent on female-fronted resolve, will headline a punk rock hootenanny in which fancy food and nervy comedy will sever as supporting acts.


Cheekily titled Riot Grill, the event is curated by celebrity chef Nadia G (real name: Nadia Giosia) and has aims to be part activist gathering, part dinner party.

"Cooking isn't just for soccer moms or 3-star Michelin chefs," says Nadia G, creator and host of Cooking Channel series "Bitchin' Kitchen."

"Even the freaks and fiends want some fried porcini ravioli," she adds.

Nadia G will hope her menu is as bold as the lineup.

Acts on the bill include sleazy-meets-sunny rambunctiousness of Slutever, Nadia G's own nascent and raucous the Menstruators, and the downright carnal, and at times carnivalesque, Le Butcherettes. The latter have a new album, "A Raw Youth," due next month. It's a work lead Butcherette Teri Suarez says is somewhat of a concept album.

"I hate using the word 'theme,' but every song is basically about an oppressed voice," she says. In the first 10 minutes of an interview, Suarez name-checks activists, writers and scholars such as Bisi Alimi, Malala Yousafai and Lydia Cacho.

So what kind of food goes well with rock 'n' roll dedicated to the rebels? "Chilaquiles," says Suarez, without hesitation.

Babes in Toyland founding member Lori Barbero has some of her own requests. Together with Babes in Toyland for the first time since the mid-'90s, Barbero will be taking time off from her bartending gig at Minneapolis' Surly Brewing Company to make the trip west for Riot Grill.

Food, she says, is a passion, with some exceptions.

"I'll try anything, but right now I'm over the pickled thing," she says. "That fad needs to go away. Everything is pickled. It's unbelievable. There needs to be a restaurant that doesn't have anything fermented or pickled."

Chilaquiiles don't appear to be on the menu Friday, but Barbero should be in the clear. Nadia G's menu will include Philly cheese steaks with creamy taleggio sauce, fried ravioli with wild mushrooms, crispy polenta-friend Buffalo cauliflower and candied bacon dark chocolate cupcakes.

Trust her, she says, there's a method to her mix of music and creamy taleggio sauce.

"These ladies are fierce, unapologetic, and bold, so let's just say there's no stinkin' kale on this menu," she says, adding, "basically, its gourmet spin on my bar food favorites."


The tasty event is important, too, say organizers and participants.

A portion of the ticket proceeds for the concert and food extravaganza, which will be hosted by comedian Sarah Schaefer, will go toward supporting the Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay and lesbian rights organization. Also, good food, says Nadia G, shouldn't just be a privilege of the upper class. Tickets for the show start at $34.99.

"For the longest time exquisite food was only accessible to the bourgeoisie," Nadia G says. "But in the last 10 years cooking has undergone a massive global revolution and now everyone is a foodie -- which is a beautiful thing."

Suarez added that the event has her thinking about the sort of food that available to the masses. "It's brings consciousness to food," she says.

Barbero stands behind the event's motto that "gourmet punk rock feminism rules." Feminism, she says, is about equality, an issue that's as important today as ever. Anything that bring greater awareness to these social causes is vital.

She references current events, such as political debates over Planned Parenthood. "It's still a man's world," she says.

Some things haven't changed since Babes in Toyland's early days, when "We had to prove that we were serious," says Barbero.

Back then, Barbero remembers some of the criticism that came with the territory. "There were comments: 'Oh, you're just famous because you're girls,'" she said. "First of all, we're not famous. Second of all, yes, we're women. We need to be able to get paid just as much, if not more. I'm sorry, but most of the women I know who work have to work a lot harder than men to get where they're at. They have to prove themselves."

So if crispy polenta-friend Buffalo cauliflower isn't the first thing one thinks of when someone references the mid-'90s riot grrl movement, Nadia G says Riot Grill is a celebration of how far we've come while acknowledging there are still gains to be had.

"Feminists were considered renegades and pretty much blackballed by mainstream pop culture," Nadia G, 35, says of her formative years during the '90s.

"Finally that's changed and feminism is no longer a dirty word.From Lena Dunham to Nicki Minaj to Laverne Cox -- strong women are front and center in the mediascape, and that's what Riot Grill is all about, celebrating kick-ass chicks with one fist in the air."

Twitter: @Toddmartens


Riot Grill Festival

Who: Babes in Toyland, Le Butcherettes, Nadia G, Sara Schaefer and more

Where: Regent Theater, 448 S. Main St, Los Angeles

When: Friday

Cost: $34.99-$99.99