It’s hard not to feel happy for Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway, the young Los Angeles-based duo behind Thug Kitchen, the extremely popular website, and the best-selling cookbook Thug Kitchen, Eat Like You Give a F*ck. What started as a Tumblr page of tasty vegan recipes that Davis created (and Holloway photographed) while she wasn’t cashing out groceries, got a big dose of star power when Gwyneth Paltrow gave it some props. While touring to promote the recent release of their hilarious — and still profanity-laced — second book, Thug Kitchen, Party Grub, the down-to-earth duo talk about their new experiences of life on the road.
Do you have a travel essential? “A good book,” says Davis. “Because that way, when your flight’s delayed you’re just not as angry because you have something that you want to spend time doing.” Holloway adds, “And you don’t need an internet connection for it. I’ve gotta have headphones because I do like listening to music, and podcasts also really help to pass the time. But even if I don’t have an internet connection I’ll still keep them in. We’re really passionate eavesdroppers. And sometimes you get to eavesdrop on amazing conversations but you need headphones [so it doesn’t seem obvious].”
What’s your favourite place on Earth? “So far, one of my favourite places I’ve ever been is Big Sur,” says Davis. “I’m a California native so I’m gonna give it up for my home state.” Holloway agrees, adding, “The whole Pacific Northwest because I come from Texas where everything is really flat, dry and desert-like, so to go where everything is lush, green and hilly, to me, is very beautiful and interesting. We also just came from Nova Scotia and that was really beautiful too, so yeah, California and Nova Scotia.”
Where are you travelling to next? “We’re going to British Columbia so we’re really excited about that, it looks so pretty and we’ve never been,” says Davis. Holloway adds, “For me, even going to Austin is [exciting] because we couldn’t afford to travel before, so I’m just happy to go somewhere. The opportunity we have now is so much more than what we used to have.”
Do you have any packing tips? “Sit down and think before you start grabbing everything. You don’t need as much as you think; you can wear the same jacket over again and nobody is going to notice if you only have two pairs of shoes,” says Davis. “Pack light otherwise you’re going to hate yourself for dragging all that luggage around.” Holloway agrees: “What a lot of people do — and I’ve found myself doing this sometimes — is what I call panic packing, where you’re just tearing shit off hangers in a frenzy thinking you’ll need it, but you never wear any of it.”
Have you discovered any really good places to eat on your travels? “Absolutely. [In Toronto], we went to Pai and holy crap!” Davis says. “I had the green curry. Now, everyone’s had a bajillion green curries. You think they’ve all been good. You’re wrong. [Pai] serves it in a coconut and you scrape the flesh out along with the curry. The paste … you can just taste the freshness of all the ground spices and the lemongrass. It made me re-evaluate every other curry I’ve had.” Holloway adds, “Yeah, it has set a new bar, for sure. But every city has had a stand out restaurant. We also had really good Italian at Franny’s in Brooklyn.”
Do you have any favourite souvenirs? “I love going into used bookstores and try to find an old regional cookbook, like an old-time, ‘This was someone’s grandmother’s’ type of cookbook. You get a real snapshot of the city or area that way,” says Davis. “In Nova Scotia,” says Holloway, “there was an envelope in the hotel room and inside was a certificate with my name on it for the ‘Order of the Good Time.’ Visitors get one as a welcome. It was so sweet, just the warmth and friendliness that came with it. It’s a piece of paper but everything that stood behind it was really cool. I was like, y’all are out of your f–kin’ minds if you don’t think that I’m going home and framing this immediately.”
Thug Kitchen, Party Grub is available in book stores now ($29.99).