Sana Javeri Kadri is a sometimes salty, permanently hungry, rather creative human. She was raised in post-colonial Bombay, wound up in the produce aisles of California and can be currently found @sanajaverikadri on Instagram or in person wherever there are vegetables to be found. She is also schemer-in-chief for Diaspora Co-Op. In this episode, Sana talks with Chelsea about living between Mumbai and the Bay Area, the role of aesthetics in telling difficult stories, and decolonization as a series of questions.
Karla Diaz is an artist, writer, and activist. Born in Los Angeles and raised both in Mexico and L.A., her work uses performance and writing to question institutional power, explore social practices and cultural relationships, create collaborations and provoke dialogue among diverse communities. She received her MFA from California Institute of the Arts and has exhibited her work in local, national and international venues including MOCA, LACMA, the Whitney, the ICA Boston, and the Serpentine Gallery in London. She is co-director and founding member of Slanguage Studio. Her ongoing project, Prison Gourmet (2010-present) is a multi-media project informed by prisoners’ recipes made from commissary food items. She recently received an Art Matters award to continue its development. In this episode, Karla talks with Chelsea about cooking in prison and the migration of recipes and food traditions in and out of incarceration.
Ayhan Aydin is a meal ecologist. His interdisciplinary practice consists of projects that consider art, science and food. He is interested in creating stories through meals and challenging the idea of what a meal is. As a cook, he likes to take ordinary food items and creates something unexpected but still familiar. He is one of the founders of Nordisk Matutveckling AB (Nordic Food Development), a company that creates new food products from Nordic ingredients, applying various culinary traditions to existing foods in order to utilize and repurpose them. His artistic work includes collaborations with OPENrestuarnt, a theater play called “Restaurang Allemansrätten” (the Restaurant Right of Commons) featuring a meal as a central part of the story, and several conceptual dinners. In this episode, Ayhan talks with Devon about making tempeh from Swedish fava beans, what it means to create something new from very old food traditions, and drawing on the richness of immigrant food traditions.
Norma Listman is a Mexico City and Oakland-based chef and artist. Her practice is shaped by her heritage, and she is most interested in traditional cooking methods and the historical periods of Mexican gastronomy. Norma’s passion for the preservation of her culture and her father’s life-long work with maize have ignited her interest for working with native varieties of the crop. She began her career in some of the most prestigious restaurants of the Bay Area, managing the nationally acclaimed Camino Restaurant and long-time Bay Area institution BayWolf Restaurant in Oakland, before deciding to follow her passion and become a professional chef. As a food scholar she teaches Mexican culinary techniques at 18 Reasons in San Francisco. She currently lives in Mexico City and is focused on her research on Mexican native corn and nixtamalization. In this episode, Norma talks with Chelsea about preserving traditional corn varieties in a changing cultural and economic landscape, and the meztizaje of food traditions in Mexico and California.
Amy Franceschini is an artist and educator who creates formats for exchange and production that question and challenge the social, cultural and environmental systems that surround her. An overarching theme in her work is a perceived conflict between humans and nature, and her projects reveal the ways that local politics are affected by globalization. In 1995, Amy founded Futurefarmers and in 2004, she co-founded Free Soil, an international collective of artists, activists, researchers, and gardeners who work together to propose alternatives to the social, political and environmental organization of space. In 2008, Amy worked with the City of San Francisco to transform the plaza in front of City Hall into a modern victory garden, and to build gardens in people’s back yards. She is currently sailing from Oslo to Istanbul as part of Seed Journey, bringing seeds found in Norway and other points in the northern hemisphere to their center of origin in the Middle East and connecting with seed savers, farmers, bakers, activists and others along the way. Amy grew up on a farm in the Central Valley of California. In this episode, Amy talks with Chelsea about her victory gardens project in San Francisco, a Seed Journey to the Middle East, and the importance of not finding a common language.
Photo: RS 10 Christiania by Martin Høy
Lexa Walsh is a longtime artist and cultural worker based in the Bay Area. She has also lived, worked, exhibited and toured internationally. She founded the experimental music, performance and film venue the Heinz Afterworld Lounge, worked for many years as a curator and administrator at CESTA, an international art center in Czech republic, whose team created radical curatorial projects to foster cross-cultural understanding. She co-founded and conceived of the all women, all toy instrument ensemble Toychestra. She founded and organizes Oakland Stock, the Oakland branch of the Sunday Soup network micro-granting dinner series that supports artists’ projects, and launched the Librarification tumblr, which hosts artist resources. Her silo-busting project Meal Ticket brings people who don't normally eat with each other together for a meal. In this episode, Lexa talks to Chelsea about meals that bring people together across difference, creating temporary utopias, and collecting recipes for food end everything.
Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik is an artist, writer, and educator who understands art as a strategy to connect personal and public histories. Her research focuses on decolonizing the hierarchy of the senses and impact of migration. Raised in Los Angeles and based in Oakland, she is Indian and Japanese Colombian American. Sita holds a B.A. in Studio Art from Scripps College, an M.F.A. in interdisciplinary art and an M.A. in Visual and Critical Studies from California College of the Arts. She is a founding member of the People's Kitchen Collective in Oakland, California along with Jocelyn Jackson and Saqib Keval. Together, they produce community meals that narrate our migration. The goal of The People's Kitchen is to not only fill our stomachs but also nourish our souls, feed our minds and fuel a movement. In this episode, Sita talks with Chelsea about the People’s Kitchen Collective, decolonizing foods and remedies, and magical ingredients that travel the world.
Jonah Raskin is a writer - a poet and journalist - with a love for food and the people who make it. Jonah is the author of fourteen books on subjects ranging from women in rock n roll, marijuana culture and politics, Jack London, Alan Ginsberg, and a personal exploration of the food and farming culture of Sonoma County called Field Days. One thread that connects these works is a loving, exuberant sense of place. His countless articles in the local press in Sonoma County, where we both live, very often profile the eccentric characters here, and quite often, these people are immersed in lifetime projects of growing and making food. Jonah was raised on Long Island, got a PhD in England, and adopted Sonoma County in the late 1970s, where he taught literature and journalism at Sonoma State University. We met Jonah at a community meeting on oysters in West Marin County, California, and some of my favorite writing of his explores the bitter controversy over the closing of Drakes Bay Oyster Company. He is currently working on a book about the drought. In this episode, Devon and Jonah talk about the oyster wars, what nature is for, and the need for many kinds of creativity in response to the California drought.
Niki Ford is an artist, writer and chef. She worked at Chez Panisse for six years, then at the American Academy in Rome as a part of the Rome Sustainable Food Project. As a Culinary Fellow at the Montalvo Arts Center in California, she spent a year testing out a more “plant driven” menu concept in a community of artists from around the world, where she also kept a menu blog called Mountains in my Spoon. She was the opening Chef of Healdsburg SHED, and now works as a freelance chef and food editor for GFF Magazine. Chelsea and Devon met Niki at Salmon Creek Farm, on the Mendocino coast, where she is working on a place-based cookbook with artist Fritz Haeg. Her website is NikiFordCooks.com, and she posts delicious pictures at nikifordcooks on instagram. In this episode, Niki talks to Devon about plant-driven cooking, getting tired of dining, and food at the nexus of creativity and poverty.
Victoria Wagner is a visual artist, educator, and baker based in Sonoma County, California. Her work is comprised of organic, multilayered paintings, sculptures and drawings that vacillate between objective and non-objective notions. The main thread of her work is found in tonal vibration, electricity and naive human understanding of the simplicity of the natural world. Recently her work has been shown at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Southern Exposure, theLab, Headlands Center for the Arts, Sonoma County Museum, and the DiRosa Art and Nature Preserve. She teaches at the California College of the Arts. This past summer, she ran an experimental biscuit business out of her hatchback called Hello Nomad Roadside Biscuits. In this episode, Chelsea and Victoria talk about the overlap and symbiosis of baking and painting, the selling biscuits in the least likely corners of Sonoma County, and getting to know your neighbors through food.
In this episode, Chelsea interviews husband and wife team Kati Greaney and Pete Rasmussen about their collaborations in farming, activism, and filmmaking. Kati is a photographer, filmmaker, and educator who has for the last ten years worked internationally creating documentary photography and film about farmers and farmers movements. She holds a MA from the Social Documentation program a at UC Santa Cruz. Most recently she directed and produced Los Guajiros, a film that follows two young Haitian agronomists, exploring Cuba's world-renowned agricultural model. Pete is a farmer and educator who founded Sandhill Farms in the Wasatch Mountains in Utah. There he grows over 30 varieties of rare, gourmet, heirloom garlic from around the world. Pete worked for the Community Agroecology Network where he organized and led farmer exchanges from Latin America to the US, and planned student trips to farming communities throughout Latin America.
Farnaz Fatemi is a poet, a writer and a teacher of the craft of writing at UC Santa Cruz, and a gardener and lover of tomatoes. Her poetry has been published in the Ekphrasis, Red Wheelbarrow, and several other poetry journals, and in the anthologies Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been, and recently, Love and Pomegranates: Artists and Wayfarers on Iran, both compilation of works by the Iranian writers outside of Iran. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. A favorite recent work of hers is in the Tupelo Quartlerly, a very personal and lyric essay about visits to Iran called The Color of the Bricks. Devon and Chelsea speak with Farnaz about tomatoes; the interplay between gardening, cooking, and writing; travel; and the necessity of poetics and creativity in a movement.
In this episode, Chelsea meets up with Amanda Eicher at Southern Exposure in San Francisco to talk about food and eating in the context of art and activism; about the OPENrestaurant project, and her long-term community-based art project in rural El Salvador.
Amanda’s projects investigate the roles artists play in development processes; the ways groups engage in creative thinking; and intersections between traditional community-based art practices and contemporary approaches to social engagement in art, relational aesthetics, and dialogic practices. Her work often touches food, especially in the OPENrestaurant project, which experiments with the daily activities of food and restaurant workers in art spaces.
Her work has been shown and/or supported by SFMOMA, Berkeley Art Museum, UC Berkeley's Arts Research Center and the UC Futures Working Group, the Botkyrka Konsthall in Tumba, Sweden and their residence in Fittja, the Fittja Pavilion at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, in projects at CCA's Wattis Center for Contemporary Art, and in an upcoming residency at the Di Rosa Preserve and Stag's Leap Winery in 2015.