New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Benny Blanco visits NYU to celebrate the launch of his cookbook

In an exclusive interview with WSN, the award-winning songwriter and producer discussed his passion for food and the inspiration behind his new cookbook, “Open Wide: A Cookbook for Friends.”
Matt Petres
(Matt Petres for WSN)

On May 1, NYU’s Steinhardt Music Business Program and the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music teamed up for a panel discussion to celebrate the launch of award-winning songwriter and producer Benny Blanco’s new cookbook, “Open Wide: A Cookbook for Friends,” released on April 30. The event, held at the Kimmel Center for University Life, featured Blanco in conversation with author and record company executive Dan Charnas before having a Q&A session with the audience. 

Blanco is best known for producing global hits like “Lonely” by Justin Bieber, “Payphone” by Maroon 5 and “TiK ToK” by Kesha. “Open Wide” is the songwriter’s first-ever cookbook, featuring recipes from his kitchen, legendary dinner parties and even some from his famous friends, including SZA, Lil Dicky and Eric André.

Growing up in Northern Virginia, the celebrity producer always had a passion and love for food. Now, as a multifaceted artist, Blanco says cooking is a way for him to decompress. 

“It’s such a part of my life and what I do on a daily basis and how I work in music,” he told WSN in an exclusive interview. “I’m always using food as a lubricant.”

For a while, he didn’t think making a cookbook was in the cards for him. “An agent called me up and she was like, ‘Hey, do you want to make a cookbook?’” Blanco said. “And I was like, ‘What? Yeah, of course!’ And since then, everything’s been a real pinch-yourself type of moment.” 

A guest looks at an event poster that displays a headshot of a man and the words “BENNY BLANCO.”
(Matt Petres for WSN)

After meeting Jess Damuck, his co-author, through “Dave” director Ben Sinclair, he began working with her and his friends on “Open Wide,” which talks about everything from cooking to throwing the best dinner party, and even getting your guests to leave afterwards. 

“Everything about me is building a community,” Blanco said. “I want people to come into my house and be like, ‘Wow, I don’t want to leave here.’” 

The songwriter hasn’t left his music behind for cooking, though. He even curated a unique playlist of songs to run while you’re making his recipes. 

“You don’t want to worry about what music to play,” he said. “You want someone to pull out a bunch of sick music and just tell you what to do.”

Before leaving, he also left some wisdom for NYU students who want to pursue the arts. 

“Just try anything,” Blanco said. “When I started, I thought I was going to be the best rapper in the world. I am not the best rapper in the world. But I started on a journey. Before I knew it, I was doing something that I truly loved.”

Contact Amelia Chang at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Matt Petres
Matt Petres, Photo Editor
Matt Petres is a first-year studying Economics. He is from Chicago, Illinois and likes to bike and kayak. You can contact him on Instagram @matt.petres

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