“I have no idea what I’m going to cook!” says well-known C3 Presents music promoter, Amy Corbin. “But I pride myself on being able to put together a good meal in thirty minutes.” She decides to make “Chicken Bow Wow,” but whatever ideas may form upon hearing the name of the dish are likely incorrect. Corbin explains that the recipe is a family favorite, and actually the German Hähnchen nach bauernhof (loosely translated as “chicken from the farm”)—words that are a bit difficult to pronounce for Corbin’s two young daughters, Gemma (almost 8) and Milla (4) who coined the dish with its new name at some point over the years.
Corbin was born in Germany and spent her early years on a U.S. military base near Stuttgart where her father was stationed. Her mother was interested in local foods and customs and learned how to prepare many traditional German dishes while there. Corbin has fond memories of village life in Germany—the lay of the military base, her mother’s preparation of meals and packed lunches, the daily deliveries of fresh pastries. Her brother even took on the equivalent of a newspaper route, she says, only he delivered fresh brotchen (bread rolls) to the neighborhood every morning from orders placed the night before.
“I like to cook,” Corbin says, as she washes and peels six large potatoes. “But I find if you put a lot of time into a meal, it never turns out great. Getting a good healthy meal on the table, quickly, when I get home is very important to me.” Expedience is important partly because Corbin’s work is so intense. At C3 Presents, she oversees the division that produces more than 1,000 concerts a year, as well as books and curates large-scale events such as the ACL Music Festival. It’s a career she got into just out of college when she took a job answering phones three days a week for local promoter Charles Attal. Always a music lover and concert-goer, Corbin slowly began to help book bands with increasing success, and over the years, the effort she put in—working with high stress, long hours, lots of travel and little sleep—paid off big. Her name is now synonymous in the industry with ACL, and she keeps six staffers and several assistants busy. It’s a world full of people, contracts, negotiations and travel at a relentless pace, but there’s also downtime. “I don’t think about work when I cook,” she says.
Today, with her kids in the kitchen, the pace is relaxed and unhurried. She opens the door to a wall-mounted Miele steam oven, pulls out two trays and arranges the sliced potatoes. “I don’t have a microwave,” she says. “In a recent renovation of the house we decided to keep the steamer and forgo the microwave.” She uses the steamer to prepare most vegetables and doesn’t miss the microwave. As Corbin pulls out an onion and cuts it into large slices, one of the girls wrinkles her nose. “I only add a little onion,” she says—enough for the taste, but in large enough chunks that the kids can pull them out if they’d like.
The enticing smell of onions frying fills the kitchen. “My mother-in-law passed on a great trick to me,” she says. “She said to fry onions in a pan and then everyone will think from the smell that you’re a great cook!” As Corbin cubes the chicken breasts and bacon, her girls (accompanied by 10-year-old Riley, their cousin visiting from Dallas) wash tomatoes and lettuce for a salad. “She’s a pretty good cook,” Gemma chimes in with 8-year-old seriousness. “We also like sloppy Joe night…and I like Caesar salad.”
The family sits down to eat and there’s a brief discussion about who gets which fried egg to top their plate, then suddenly Milla turns and, with the great conviction of a 4-year-old participating in an ongoing adult conversation about food, declares “And…I want you to know…that I can’t live without queso.”
By Georgina O’Hara Callan • Photography by Melanie Grizzel