May/June 2015 California Bountiful magazine
Story by Barbara Arciero
Photos by Lori Fusaro
Former punk musician serves up comfort-food hits
Terri Wahl melds her love for food and music at her L.A. café—and chronicles it all in a new cookbook, "The Auntie Em's Cookbook."
As lead guitarist and vocalist for the all-female punk band The Red Aunts, Terri Wahl spent much of the '90s doing what she described as "yowling" about death, deceit, muscle cars and roller derby queens. These days, her mind is on sweeter topics—like cupcakes and French toast.
Wahl is a caterer and chef/owner of Auntie Em's Kitchen, a hip L.A. café best known for its breakfasts, brunches, seasonal salads and indulgent desserts.
For the Orange County native, going from rocker to restaurateur wasn't quite the radical transformation it might seem.
"They're both art," she said of the similarities between music and cooking. "That whole 'creativity thing' is serving me well. I love creating with all the beautiful produce and other fresh ingredients we have here in California."
Wahl's choice of tattoos offers vibrant testimony to that passion: Eggplant, tomatoes, squash, carrots and asparagus are among the fruits and vegetables inked on her arms.
"Yes, that's what I love," she said, laughing.
Wahl's fascination with food is rooted in her childhood—her mother is an avid gardener and cook—and her years traveling from gig to gig only fueled it. The Red Aunts van, she said, was piled with cookbooks and food magazines, and the band members regularly sought out the culinary specialties of each town they visited.
After a decade of touring, though, "I got tired of sleeping on floors," Wahl said. "I knew I wanted to cook. I wanted to build my life around making people happy by cooking for them."