SF’s Only Show with Live Cabaret & Live Baking!
I don’t know about you, but when I was a tiny little roly-poly of a child, one of my dearest dreams was to someday appear on a 90s cooking show with a live studio audience. Not as the chef, mind you, but as an audience member in one of those VIP counter seats right up close to the action. You know, in the seats where you actually get your own tableware and you get to eat what the chef makes by the end of the show. That girl – I wanted to be that girl.
I can’t describe or explain my 7 year-old self’s crush on Emeril Lagasse, nor can I put into words how deeply I desired the chance to taste something from teh chef’s own spoon. I think it was something about the explosive showmanship, the sensuality of food, and the combination of my two favorite things: delicious snacks and sexy, loud performance art. BAM!
And now, I’m gonna get to live my dream – and so can you, dear Broke-Asses! Because the DNA Lounge is playing host to the sparkliest, steamiest, silliest, and sexiest baking show that I could ever have asked for this Sunday, 3/27, at 7:00 pm – Just Add Heather! (And check out our giveaway right here to win tix!)
What is Just Add Heather? Well I sat down with THE Heather herself and got the inside ice-cream-scoop (lol food punz!) about the whole show.
Like a lot of artists, when March 2020 and the Coronavirus pandemic came along, chanteuse Heather Thiel found herself pivoting. Thiel, who until then had served as Berber SF’s emcee and also fronted a band called Heather Thiel and the Aces, was devastated by the lockdown that prevented her and other artists from performing before live audiences – effectively preventing them from working, connecting with their community, and sharing the joy of self-expression.
Thiel was also moved by the devastation she saw in her fellow performers. Thiel says, “I thought to myself, I need to contribute to this situation and make people laugh.’”
What came next was, in Thiel’s words,” just an effort to bring performance to the Bay Area,” and “a safe place to play” for artists.
It started with a dessert – remember how all of a sudden during lockdown, everyone was baking? “Nobody could go out and buy pastries,” Thiel says. “I thought, why don’t I just do my recipes and sing?”
Because in addition to being an experienced musician, Thiel is also a trained pastry chef. That’s right folks – she’s a quadruple threat: singer, dancer, emcee, and BAKER.
Thus, Thiel began her web series, Just Add Heather. Airing weekly on YouTube, the show consisted of Thiel breaking into song a capella, siging both covers of classics and original, improvised tunes, while showing her audience how to bake something delicious.
Things progressed quickly from there. Thiel says, “By the [ninth] episode, Jazz Mafia drummer Aaron Kierbel came on the show and that changed everything.”
The two improvised a number of songs and comic bits together, playing off of one another perfectly – despite that Kierbel and his drums were placed more than six feet away from Thiel and her baking counter at all times.
Eventually, the rest of the band joined them – but because of lockdown restrictions, the show had to move outside, which brought a new set of challenges. “If we’re gonna wheel a piano out onto the lawn, how am I gonna cook?” Thiel laughs, then says, “I learned to bake on the barbecue!”
And with her new barbecue-baking skills and a wide-open lawn for herself and her band to jam in, guest artists began to join Thiel, adding a cabaret-style variety to the show. Musicians, dancers, flow artists, and aerialists joined her for what was becoming a true “culinary cabaret.’
Thiel was often told that she ran her show like Dean Martin might – drink in hand, zingers flying left and right, and living by the show’s motto, “Fuck it, do it anyway!” But Thiel says that when she’s onstage, she’s merely “settling into the most zany part of [herself].”
Pretty soon, Just Add Heather was gaining notoriety – mostly among performers. “People didn’t really know who I was before,” says Thiel. “Before I knew it, when we opened up at Berber again, every musician knew who I was.”
And once things did open up again for live performance, opportunity came knocking. Jim Sweeney, producer of The World-Famous Hubba Hubba Revue, approached her about potentially creating a live stage show for the DNA Lounge. With his encouragement, and with a new direction to go in with the show, Thiel found herself an old portable Wolf convection oven that could be brought onstage – and the rest, as they say, is history. Just Add Heather Live premiered in the DNA’s intimate upstairs lounge, and after an extremely successful first show, they’ve been upgraded to the main stage for this Sunday’s blowout showcase.
Just Add Heather live onstage is not the same beast as the YouTube show, but it is just as special – if not more so. You’ll find the same, almost 100% improvised banter and charm, the same musical quality, the same delicious treats. But you’ll also be treated to an expanded band, five new dancers, a special appearance by some Fou Fou Ha clowns, AND a live, hot, onstage baking show that will titillate all your senses and make your mouth water.
There aren’t many backyard pandemic web series that can say they’ve found their way onto the DNA’s Main Stage (trust me, I tried it myself), but of all the ones that can, Just Add Heather might just take the cake – because at this show, you might actually get to EAT the cake!
And yes, those puns were all extremely necessary.