Zac Brown Band are used to traveling the country, with the group's namesake not only serving as lead singer but also as head of his Southern Ground empire, which is not only a record label but also a gourmet food venture. That gives the passionate foodie a chance to perform both on and offstage as he serves locally-sourced cuisine for an intimate gathering of concertgoers at each stop on the band's tour.
Now TV viewers can get a front-row seat at the food table (virtually) as Chef Rusty Hamlin, Executive Chef at Southern Ground, teams with the Grammy-winning group for the new series, Rusty's RockFeast: Backstage With Zac Brown Band on cable network FYI. Seven half-hour episodes of the culinary series will air beginning July 23rd, at 10:00 p.m. ET.
Each episode will feature Chef Rusty and the band cooking up southern cuisine in a state-of-the-art, 18-wheel mobile kitchen named "Cookie." At every tour stop, Hamlin and his culinary team prepare for their popular "Eat & Greets," an intimate, one-of-a-kind, sit-down meal for a few hundred fans of the chart-topping group.
"Our love for music and food had me and Rusty thinking about how to give our fans the most memorable experience," Brown says in a statement. "It breaks down all barriers with the fans when we are at their service. We serve them up amazing food and it's the perfect way to really get a chance to meet them and do something different. I'm constantly impressed at how Rusty pulls it off every night not knowing what groceries he’s going to have. It's off the cuff every day and he makes it look so easy."
Giving viewers a look at the entire process, the pressure is on for the Chef and his crew as they arrive in a new city on the band's tour, with only has a few hours to source all the ingredients needed for the meal. Each menu is improvised on the spot with the freshest ingredients available that day from local farms and markets. Adding to the experience – and the pressure – the same menu is never served twice.
"It may seem like an impossible task to roll an entire restaurant around the country and whip up a completely new meal every night, but we truly love what we do" says Chef Rusty. "What the crew and I pull off every night is nothing short of a culinary miracle. We feed fans and the band in a farm-to-table experience unlike any other."
Zac Brown Band's latest LP, Jekyll & Hyde, which hit stores in April, is the first from Brown's Southern Ground Artists to be released in partnership with three other labels: Big Machine Label Group, John Varvatos Records and Republic Records. The album debuted at Number One and features the chart-topping single, "Homegrown." At the time the LP was released, Brown acknowledged it was a rule-breaker.
"What I've always loved is to try things and take chances that other people are scared to do," he told Rolling Stone Country. "We've got a team of visionary people and people who've proven they can be successful in their own way, by breaking the rules of what is normal."
The group's latest single, "Loving You Easy" is now in the Top Ten.