Vika Bull is one of Australia’s most respected, powerful soul singers and this February Vika is set to tell the story of one of the most influential soul singers of all time: Etta James. ‘At Last Is a narrative concert written by critically acclaimed UK author John Livings, At Last: The Etta James Story will premiere at Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre from 19 February 2013, just over a year after Etta James’ death in January 2012.
We recently chatted with Vika during rehearsals for this incredible stage show to find out what music venue she loves to eat at and what her ultimate Etta James cooking play list is.
What were your food influences when you were growing up and what kind of food did you eat at home or with your family?
We were a meat and three veg kind of family because of Dad. He worked with cattle and we could never understand how he could eat meat!
The Tongans were around a lot so there were many Tongan feasts – suckling pigs, raw fish, octopus cooked in coconut milk and other traditional dishes that could only be prepared when the boat arrived from Tonga with the ingredients like purple sweet potatoes, yams and taro.
Mum is a great cook and loves curries so she prepared curry about twice a week oh and another favourite was spaghetti marinara.
What would be ultimate Etta James cooking play list to get ready for the upcoming theatre show performing as Etta?
Roll With Me Henry (The Wallflower) Good Rockinʼ Daddy
Somethingʼs Got A Hold On Me Tough Lover
Strange Things Happening
The Pick Up
My One & Only
Iʼd Rather Go Blind
What type of food do you make sure to avoid before a gig or going on stage?
Anything stodgy – heavy food a big no no – impossible to sing!
Imagine for a second you can request anything on your rider each night for the upcoming Etta James ʻAt Lastʼ season, What food do you put on it?
Fish tacos from Mamasita. Watermelon
What has been your biggest cooking disaster to date?
I am a crap cook – too impatient and I find the kitchen very stressful. I prepared scones once for an afternoon tea and when I served them everyone called them biscuits!
When you tour overseas, what food from home do you miss the most?
Vegemite! One of my favourite things to eat is toast, butter and vegemite with a cup of tea.
Whatʼs the most adventurous meal youʼve ever eaten?
Escargot! I tasted more garlic than snail so it was not too bad.
This is your last day on earth, what is your final meal?
My final meal is – ham steak and pineapple with home made chips and peas.
Mum would prepare this for us as a special treat when she and Dad were heading out for a night out on the town.
She would grill the ham steak and then cook the pineapple (ring) in butter so it had that caramelised thing goinʼ on.
She make the best chips. She would slice them thinly (but not too thin like a french fry) then cook until golden brown and tossed in a decent amount of salt – then she plates it up – ham steak with pineapple on top with chips and boiled peas on the side. Linda and I thought this was the best dish in the whole wide world. The last time I ate this was 1979!