Having spent most of my adult life working in professional kitchens, I’ve come to realize that there are just some indispensables when it comes to cooking properly. Yes there’s sharp knives, quality pans, comfy shoes, an organized recipe/prep list, blah, blah, blah. But most importantly, you’ve gotta have the right jams. Cooking is fun, and the great thing about fun things is that they are rendered even more fun with a soundtrack!

So keeping with the food and music theme, here’s a peppy collection of (mostly) food-related songs that get me going in the kitchen when there’s work to be done and fun to be had. It kicks off with the undisputed champ of culinary songs by King Curtis (Memphis Soul Stew) that adds individual instrumentation like ingredients in a recipe and builds to a simmering-hot musical conclusion that will get anyone in the mood to get down in the kitchen.

Soul, New Orleans jazz, country, rock, folk, hip-hop are all represented in this eclectic mix which (like a good menu) will have something for all tastes. And while food as a metaphor for love and/or sex is a theme revisited throughout the history of pop music, leave it to R. Kelly to just come right out and say it in his own seductive way with In The Kitchen. Trust me; it’s a hilariously raunchy ballad that’s in heavy rotation in some of the finest restaurant kitchens around and has provided the soundtrack for the preparation of some of the most refined meals imaginable. Just put a pot on the stove and go with it. You might have to cover the kids’ ears, though.

Check out the Test Kitchen Tunes playlist below, and follow Cooking Light on Spotify for more editor-curated playlists.

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