This month’s Food Forethought is a Q&A with Micah Freeman, a server at Bon Ton in Midtown and an up-and-coming musician.
You’re signed with Awful Records, best known for boosting weirdo, artsy acts with an R&B or synth-pop bent like Playboi Carti and Abra. How will you know when it’s time to quit your day job as a server at Bon Ton?
I’m currently wrapping up my next project and planning the rollout, so I suppose when I get too busy to continue to devote my time there, or ideally when music money replaces Bon Ton money, I’ll leave.
Most days, Bon Ton closes at 1or 2 a.m. Doesn’t that put you out of commission for prime musical performance hours?
Yes. But I haven’t been performing lately because I want to have new content to promote when I hit the stage again. I miss it, but will be reunited with the mic soon.
Your work experience revolves around both food and music. How are those different creative enterprises, and how are they similar?
I love food, and by default, have learned a lot about it through my work in and around it. That part has been cool because I appreciate cooking and mixology as art forms. They’re much like music production; they involve creative expression through putting together various fundamental pieces. You could draw parallels between the way you use aromatic spice in a food or herbal liqueur in a cocktail to the timbre of a synthesizer in the making of a song. I suppose serving the food and beverage is an art form too, but honestly it’s not one I have the same level of appreciation for.
When you need both good food and good tunes, what are your go-to spots in Atlanta?
I like 8arm, brunch at Negril Village when my friends DJ Hourglass or Whitney Abstract are spinning, Sound Table, Victory and S.O.S. in Decatur. Most of the time it’s hard to find both with the same level of intention in the same place, so I compromise usually in favor of the food.
Could you see your own tracks on rotation in the dining room at Bon Ton, or is it a different vibe?
Definitely. I’ve snuck some of my stuff in to the rotation before, especially during late night when the vibe changes from funk/jazz/soul to more “urban.” My music has some of those elements as well so it’s not a harsh transition. I’ve tested out new unreleased records in there too, to see people’s reactions. That’s fun.
Kitchens are an intense atmosphere. What does the Bon Ton kitchen sound like? Is it deadly silent, does somebody pick a radio station or playlist, or do they just fling witty banter?
It just changed, thank God. We got a new chef running things back there so lately the kitchen is pretty chill. I hear laughter or the usual clang of pans and running of water. The last chef was a dick, so we used to hear a lot of cursing and frustration. I don’t miss that too much. The change is welcome.
Though you’ve been in Atlanta awhile, you actually hail from Baltimore. What foods or spots from back in the day do you miss the most?
Growing up, my dad cooked a lot, and I was a bit too young to really get acclimated to the food and beverage scene. There were some spots in the Inner Harbor I used to really like to visit, like the Fudgery. That was a place where they made fudge while singing. But singing really well. Sisqo, from Dru Hill, was apparently discovered there.
Do you cook at home? Where did you learn to cook?
Not to sound like the Dos Equis man, but I don’t cook a lot—but when I do, it’s fire. I suppose I’ve picked up some sensibilities from the Italian, Spanish, Tex Mex, Indo-Pak, and Cajun Creole cuisine I’ve been around. Honestly, I never knew I’d be any good at it until my ex threw me in the kitchen and told me to whip something up. I improvised, and turns out I knew more than I thought.
How many times a night do you see people taking selfies with Bon Ton’s neon pink “Fancy Service” sign?
Every night. At least three times. There’s probably a “Fancy Service” sign in my purgatory.