Josh Groban dishes on growing up eating his dad's Jewish recipes: 'I learned to love matzo balls and pickled fish'

Josh Groban says
Josh Groban says "we all have a lot to clink glasses for this holiday." Here's what he's thankful for this year. (Photo: Getty; designed by Areta Gjicali)
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Josh Groban is well known for his outstanding vocal abilities paired with a long list of accolades and achievements. Set to star in the upcoming Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the Grammy-award winning performer also happens to be a passionate philanthropist and a major wine-lover.

You might say wine has always been in the blood of the "You Raise Me Up" platinum-selling artist — who also enjoys raising up a glass. "Growing up a Cali guy," he says, "I'm very lucky that having been a Los Angelo that I was — once, you know, I turned 21 and had a car — able to go up to Napa at any time I wanted, and go up to Sonoma and Santa Barbara."

The entertainer recounts always having a particular joy for wine education and love for learning the stories of where wines came from. As his career — and ultimately travel opportunities — grew, so did his footprint for wine exploration.

"Probably my favorite wine region on the planet is Burgundy, France," Groban tells Yahoo Life. "You're experiencing stuff that was bottled a few years ago in buildings that are 2,000 years old. There's so much rich history because of this and so many stories that get written because of wine. That made it a really fun journey."

The immense opportunities his gift has given him are not lost on the 41 year old. "Every time I travel for music, there's always a glass of wine involved, there's always a bottle of wine, there's always a winery nearby, there's always a region I never considered before," he says, including South Africa and Australia as up-and-coming spots he might otherwise never have experienced without his career.

"Music gives me a ticket to so many different experiences like that," he says, "and I think wine is the same when it comes to creativity."

When it comes to pairing wine with food, Groban adds, "I try to eat my way through just about everywhere."

He recently returned from Italy. "That was a great country to eat a lot," he says, "a lot of cheese and pasta and delicious things." His favorite foodie city? "Tokyo was probably the most incredible city that I've been to for food," he shares. "I love Japanese food."

He also appreciates places much closer to home. "California is an incredible state to grow up in," he says. "There are so many different parts of California to eat and there's such a rich melting pot of styles and cultures that all come together."

Groban recounts fond memories of family barbecues in the backyard with his mom, brother and dad — whom he playfully calls the "grill master."

"I don't eat a lot of red meat, but food is love," he says. "If my dad is cooking it, I'm eating it." The Groban family loves their cornbread and baked beans, but they also have a Jewish background. "I learned to love matzo balls and pickled fish," he adds.

But it wasn't always Dad in charge of the cooking. "My mom makes a great chili," says Groban. On Christmas morning every year, she also makes an egg casserole, loaded with cheese that's anticipated by the entire family. "That's just underneath being excited for what Santa brought us in the morning, is smelling that dish when we wake up," he says.

Yahoo Life chatted with the artist ahead of a rare night off — where Groban had big plans. "I'm going to roll some pasta," he says. "I'm going to make some sauce — it's going to be garlicky, it's going to red and it's going to have some cheese." Not surprisingly, he was planning to pair that with a bottle of Merlot.

Groban spoke with Yahoo Life as part of a philanthropic collaboration with Josh Cellars and its founder, Joseph Carr. "Josh Wine is a wine that I've enjoyed for a really long time," Groban says. "Friends used to give me bottles of Josh wine as a kind of a gift and a joke [because the two share a name] but it was one that I would enjoy and love and continue to buy."

Josh Cellars is enlisting people named Josh for the first ever "Joshgiving." With the goal of putting the thanks back in Thanksgiving, the campaign is focused on giving back through meaningful acts of kindness. These acts of kindness can be anything from fundraising for a local bookstore to hosting a community coat drive.

The synergy between Groban and Josh Cellars was instant, he adds. Josh Cellars uses its platform of wine as a means to give back — to the tune of over $1 million to various charity organizations in its lifetime — much in the same way Groban does through music.

Yahoo Life spoke to Groban from the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center where he, along with Josh Cellars and the non-profit, Sing for Hope, were unveiling a piano designed for the facility and a $100,000 donation. "We all have a lot to clink glasses for this holiday," Groban adds.

Giving back feels natural for the acclaimed vocalist. "I recognize that I was afforded so many incredible opportunities in my life," he says. "The reason I'm sitting here is because there were people kind enough in my life to give me access and opportunities to be able to follow my dreams."

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