Sitting Down with the Promoter Behind Brooklyn’s Best Underground Music Shows

On why he doesn’t cook much, his favorite Mexican haunts and why you shouldn’t knock Popeyes until you’ve tried it.

Todd P

If you’re over 30 you probably haven’t heard of Todd P–né Todd Patrick—but to struggling bands around the country he’s a household name. The Texas native ran shows in Portland, Oregon, for a few years in the 1990s before coming to New York more than a decade ago. Now three to four times a week, the man—he’s actually 35 himself—books the best and cheapest underground venues in Brooklyn, mainly at a handful of not-very-legal warehouse-y spaces with names like Monster Island Basement, Shea Stadium, and Above the Auto Parts Store, which is just what you’d expect. (He also puts out the pretty weekly newsprint mini-zine Showpaper, which includes the work of up-and-coming artists and listings for every all-ages gig in town.)

The Market Hotel, a stunning if seriously shabby old Bushwick bank building Patrick leased, was crown jewel of the operation, until the city recently shut down its near-nightly shows. Hidden behind the room where bands and deejays play and cheap beer and plastic cups of liquor are sold for a few bucks is a DIY apartment that’s Patrick’s kitchen-away-from-home. It’s also the real kitchen of Alaina Stamatis, Tavish Miller and Ric Leichtung, all of whom work for Todd, live there and help with the place’s post-punk productions. The Market Hotel has now formed a nonprofit organization and is seeing suggestions for how it can legally survive as a space for shows, but, in the meantime, Patrick let us peek into its kitchen.

Duncan’s Scotch and Cat Chow in the freezer

You want a drink? Only the best. We also have Bacardi. Yeah, you know it’s better cold. This is the booze we sell. We sell a cheap booze and a good booze. The beer we keep out there [where the bands play]. We’ve never had a vermin problem, at least not a bug problem, and we’re very sensitive for having one, cause we’re a big house. And so hence [the Cat Chow is] in the freezer. I mean, we’ve had individuals who lived here who had bug problems. On their bodies. But we’ve never actually had a bug problem. We’re very sensitive about it.

Punkhouse stir-fry and the new range

I pretty much don’t cook. These guys cook some, to varying degrees. Tavish I think cooks every day. I don’t cook ever.  I don’t think I’ve ever eaten any food prepared at Market Hotel. Market Hotel only got a range like four months ago.  Electric: It’s hard to find an electric range in New York. We had a hot plate before. It’s hidden back there somewhere. It was a good one, too. It gets as hot as this does. We wanted an oven. At one point someone was going to move in here who was going to bake all the time. And so we kind of got the range in advance of her moving in. She grew up in a very traditional Filipino home, so she wanted to do a lot of cooking.  But then she didn’t end up moving in, so we didn’t get our baker and so we so have a range, though. Tavish, are you cooking anything in the oven?

Tavish: No, there’s just some dishes.

Todd: I think cookies have been made here, right?

Alaina: Um, we made a cake. We made a birthday cake.

Todd: Yeah, there’s been a surprising amount of cooking around here lately. Mostly you, Tavish. And it seems like it’s mostly like, punkhouse stir-fry.

Tavish: This is quinoa, steamed kale. And, uh, some onions, garlic, mushrooms, avocado. I only eat meat from the garbage, so I’m pretty much vegetarian.

Todd: That was the original microwave right there [pointing to an ancient microwave].

Ric: The microwave is broken. It broke a couple of weeks ago.

Todd: It’s old. We could carbon date the wood grain.

Takeout chicken

When I’m working, I’m in a hurry. But I’ll sit and eat and kind of revert to my animalistic form and crouch over my food and growl at anyone who comes near me. There’s some leftovers right there from a place called Las Mayetas. There’s a menu from it. It’s right outside on Broadway. It’s half a rotisserie chicken, you get rice, beans and sweet plantains. It’s like this herb encrusted rotisserie chicken, and it’s like seven bucks for all that. It’s so fucking good. It’s encrusted with all kinds of shit. That’s what I’m going to eat later tonight. I was going to eat it before, but then you came and instead it became a prop.

On working near Popeyes

I was like, awesome, there’s a Popeyes! Popeyes is the best fast food. We go to Popeyes a lot. Mostly for the biscuits.

The pots and pans and cups

This has all just been acquired in various ways. Most of the things we drink out of are jars. It’s not that we’ve never had glasses, they just don’t last very long. They get lost in the vortex of someone’s room, they get broken. A lot of aftershow parties happen in this space.

The best Brooklyn Mexican food

And then I also go to . . . I don’t remember the name of it unfortunately. It’s a new Mexican grocery/taqueria on Broadway. It’s really good. I’ll usually get tacos al pastor. Or I’ll get tinga de pollo. I’m pretty into Mexican food; I’m from Texas. I go to Mexico all the time. Zeppe’s is the best one, frankly. It’s on Myrtle and Central. And that’s the best one, but it’s further away to walk. The best Mexican in Bushwick, it’s closer to Wyckoff on the L. The stuff out here is good, but there’s way better stuff over there. There’s a couple places between Knickerbocker and Wyckoff that are terrific.

The thing about Mexican food in New York that people forget or don’t know about is that all of the food is from Puebla. And you see that reflected in the names: Matamoros, Puebla. Pueblan food is good food but it’s not as good as Oaxacan food or Mexico City food, it’s just standard food. If you’re gonna get Pueblan food, I recommend getting a cemita or get tinga de pollo.

Mayonesa con limon

I love this. Have you guys ever heard of this? It’s the most popular mayonnaise in Mexico. It’s weird cause McCormick makes spices in America, but in Mexico they are the main brand for mayonnaise and ketchup.

One cookbook

Alaina: I got it from the Martha Stewart TV show. We got free books.

My friend just called me and said, “Wanna go to Martha tomorrow?” And I said yes.

Mad props

We bought the catfish. It’s wrapped in an issue of Showpaper. We bought it from the fish market across the street. And this [kimchee] is from downstairs, from Mr. Kiwi. Kiwi is the best Korean market. They have all kinds of kimchee and shit. It’s basically white people-centric. And, like, it’s where you go to buy tofu. Kiwi also has a large selection of liquids with floaties. This one is coconut and aloe.

Kombucha krazy

Everyone in the house but me is super into kombucha. They’re actually gonna start making it. Kiwi is the only place in the neighborhood where you can buy kombucha.

What’s inside your real refrigerator?

Less. You would see a lot of condiments. Mine is worse. These condiments are edible. Mine are more just artifacts.

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Rachel Wharton is the former deputy editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. She won a 2010 James Beard food journalism award, holds a master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University, and has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and reporter. A North Carolina native and a former features food reporter for the New York Daily News, she edited the Edible Brooklyn cookbook and was the co-author of both Handheld Pies and DiPalo's Guide to the Essential Foods of Italy. Her work also appears in publications such as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Saveur.