Solid Dudes In The Kitchen

If Rachel Ray is your own personal kitchen guru; if the gobble-y tones of Julia Child's cooking intonations are music to your ears; if Emeril Legasse's liberal ejaculations of "Bam!" are just too edgy for you – then you are not the target market of Solid Dudes Kitchen.

It is, after all, as co-creator/co-star Dave Graw puts it, "Mostly eating and dick jokes."

At the turn of this century, before the decade-friendly moniker of "the aughties" had yet made itself widely known, Dave Graw was playing drums in a band called Heads Will Roll. Holding down that rhythm section with him was Derek Swanson on bass. The band may have made like its titular heads and rolled off into the sunset, but Dave and Derek had developed a rhythm that would outlast the lifespan of the one they formed within their band – one that would have them remaining great friends through the years, evidenced by Derek even fulfilling the ministerial duties at Dave's own wedding.

Then about three years ago, Dave received a call from Derek, who was hyped up on the idea that the two of them should put together a cooking show. Dave was quick to agree – readily recognizing that Derek was the undisputed superior chef of their duo – and with a theme song and some graphics put in place right off the bat (both of their backgrounds in music and present positions in the post-production industry proving to be indispensable), they decided they should really follow through with the idea.

Originally scripted and shot to be a full-length 22-minute program, Dave and Derek were quick to realize that Solid Dudes Kitchen is much more appetizing in bite-sized chunks. So the pilot was chopped down into two five-minute segments and the dudes, finding their acting to be less than Emmy-worthy, decided to do away with most scripting. As Dave puts it, "I'm no Matt Damon."

And while the producers of the Bourne films won't be calling anytime soon, Dave and Derek do have a distinct rapport with both the camera and each other, finding an easy on-screen chemistry that can't be faked. And so the two decided to create rough outlines for each show, then basically wing it using Derek's Ferndale apartment as their set. The final result is a six to nine minute episode, modestly described by Dave as "something to keep your attention and get the point across."

"Each show is the preparation of one dish, and then we'll put the recipes and cooking instructions up online," he goes on to explain. "The show is not really one of those things you can cook along with, it's more something you'd watch and hopefully enjoy for the entertainment and the humor, and then you can go use the website to get the resources to make the food on your own."

True, the duo doesn't have any formal training in cookery, nor do they have any restaurant experience tucked under their apron strings. But that doesn't mean they can't cook!

The food featured in the first five episodes (season one of Solid Dudes Kitchen) includes beet salad, macaroni and cheese, venison pasty (their tribute to Michigan), weed brownies coupled with bacon ice cream (Dave crediting his "college kid" cooking tendencies for the weed brownies, and Derek's legitimate chops in the kitchen for the bacon ice cream) and, the piece de resistance: The Bacon Burger.

Featured in season one's finale episode, The Bacon Burger was one of Dave's flashes of culinary dude-errific genius – some might say arterial homicide – that ended up being perhaps their standout dish. Says Dave, "I think it was based on America's ridiculous call for The Baconator or whatever Burger King can do to cram more bacon into somebody's mouth. I figured, let's just make a whole burger … made entirely out of bacon. It ended up being a pork celebration."

In case a menu offering weed brownies hasn't already clued you in, Solid Dudes Kitchen ain't your parents' cooking show. The dudes are reaching out to a decidedly younger, er, less genteel audience. To best exemplify the show's sense of humor, take, for example, Dave's response to an inquiry about the best use of a microwave – "Besides microwaving a cantaloupe and fucking it?" he immediately queries. While the joke is from a yet-to-be-completed episode (let's hope that bit remains on the cutting room floor), it makes clear that little is sacred on Solid Dudes. It's telling that the guys consider it more of an "anti-cooking show" than anything else. 

"I think food is a reason to congregate," offers Dave, "everybody meets in the kitchen. So the cooking show is maybe more of a vehicle for us to hang out and talk."

With season one under their belts and available as free viewable clips on their website and for purchase on DVD (also through the website), the dudes are already at work on season two, with plans to expand the format – perhaps taking it on the road to capture some "on location" episodes.

When asked about the potential future of Solid Dudes Kitchen, Dave Graw remains realistic, optimistic, and open-minded. Satisfied with the fact that a majority of people, himself included, seek out media online more than they do on their televisions at this point, Dave is content to keep the show web-based. Of course, the dudes acknowledge in their series trailer that it's pretty unlikely the Food Network will come calling.

Still, when asked whether there's any possibility of a future in television, Dave is quick to explain, "I guess if somebody's gonna throw a chunk of money at us and tell us they wanna put the show on a network, that would be great … but I think more importantly we just wanna keep doing it, loving it, and trying to make it better." 

Kirk Vanderbeek is a freelance writer and film reviewer for Real Detroit Weekly. His previous article for Metromode was Go Comedy, Go.


Derek Swanson & Dave Graw of Solid Dudes Kitchen

Screen shot from trailer - courtesy Solid Dudes Kitchen

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Screen shot from trailer - courtesy Solid Dudes Kitchen

Boys will be boys

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