Set the Turntable

Four BBQ-ready playlists from our favorite chefs and DJs

What good is a cookout without the proper soundtrack? The right songs help set the vibe, whether you're responsible for flipping burgers or just showing up and eating.

Make sure your summer hangouts sound appropriately awesome with these playlists from some of our favorite chefs and DJs.

The party starters: Ratha Chaupoly and Ben Daitz, owners of New York Cambodian sandwich shops Num Pang, like to kick it old school. "This is a mix of the best '90s hip-hop out there—golden era," they say. "We threw in a little surfer soul, too, to get the perfect blend of summer songs that are relaxing but still upbeat. Having the right playlist sets the mood for the party, and it's essential in keeping that vibe going all night." Those are wise words, indeed—you'd do well to kick your afternoon or evening off with this mix.
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The crowd pleaser: Darin Bresnitz, co-host of SnackyTunes, a Heritage Radio Network show that combines food world heavy hitters with indie bands, is all about keeping it easy. "BBQs are all about gathering your friends to catch up and to eat delicious food, but as the afternoon rolls on, the party vibes get a little stronger," he says. "The proper soundtrack should have both background music and a few hits everyone will sing along to." Queue this one up and crack a beer. Your work here is done.
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The purist: "You can't grill without white wine and music," declares Texan chef Tim Love of Fort Worth's famed White Elephant Saloon (among others). Love's soundtrack of choice is heavy on American rock and roll, with a bit of country twang thrown in for good measure. "A fun, upbeat playlist keeps everyone in good spirits," he says. "Mine always includes classics like Van Halen, Willie Nelson and [newer acts] like Kings of Leon."
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The cool kid: Craig Thornton, the mad genius behind L.A. supperclub Wolvesmouth, is known for his eclectic taste in the kitchen, so it's no surprise that his playlist is similarly diverse. "This list has fast-paced, aggressive songs, and poppy dance tracks, too. It's the ultimate contrast of guilty pleasures and stuff to put you outside your comfort zone," he says. Turn this one on to impress even the snobbiest of your vinyl-collecting pals.
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