Every week, we’re turning to a trusted tastemaker and Talking Taste in all its forms. From favorite meals to must-have music for eating, drinking, and making things happen, we want to know what makes creators and influencers tick—don’t you?

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Illustration by Paige Vickers

You might not know it, but you may have this week’s tastemaker to thank for some of your best nights out and for keeping you functioning the next morning. As a former owner of The Liberty NYC , consultant to Bluestone Lane Coffee Group , Justin Timberlake’s personal mixologist, and a brand ambassador for Sauza 901 Tequila , Aussie-born, New York-based Eddy Buckingham has played many roles in the hospitality industry.

His latest projects—restaurants Chinese Tuxedo and Tong Noodle Bar, slated to open in September 2016—are sure to bring a cool new flavor to Chinatown. With a palate so on point that he’s got JT’s trust, we couldn’t wait to talk taste with Eddy.

Name: Eddy Buckingham

Age: 33

Occupation: Problem Causer/Problem Solver. Owner of Chinese Tuxedo and Tong, opening September 2016 in Chinatown, Manhattan

What you’d do if you weren’t doing your day job: Bench-warming for the New York Knicks

One food or drink you couldn’t live without: Club Soda with Bitters. I drink it all day at work and it is the best spacer when playing at night.

What do you have great taste in? Friends. I have good people.

What do you have bad taste in? Haircuts and tattoos. I accrued some stinkers back in the day.

Who, to you, is an influential tastemaker, and why? Today people seem to covet authenticity above all else, so increasingly the real tastemakers seem to be those doing what they do passionately without pretense or hubris. It’s super cool to think how a street food vendor in Singapore might influence the great restaurateurs of New York City, or high school kids from the outskirts of Paris the world’s great designers.

How do you expand and refine your sense of Taste? (i.e. where do you go for inspiration) I just walk out my front door in downtown Manhattan. We’re spoiled by the world’s best in so many fields, and it’s never the same two days in a row.

What is the best-tasting thing you’ve ever eaten? A fig straight off the tree on a 100-degree afternoon in Chianti, Italy.

What does taste mean to you? Our tastes are informed by our history, values and desires. So I try not to think in the metric of good and bad taste but rather consider what speaks to our experience and aspirations (and that’s how I try to explain Affliction t-shirts and cargo shorts).

In Eddy’s own words, “I [try] to start it pretty lo-fi and then transition into some favorite old bangerz.” It’s clear this hospitality guru knows how to please a room. Take a listen to some of Eddy’s favorites below: