Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Our story so far.....

If this is your first time here, let me welcome you.

If you've been here before, you're probably asking: "why is he writing this?"

What's going on is, first off - I'm on a trip to Southeast Asia, and second off - USA Today telephoned a week before I left asking if I could put together three recipes based on three of the ten (I'm sorry, but how lame is it that they went from five to ten?) Best Picture Oscar nominees for an article which is appearing sometime in the next 24 hours from now. And so I thought I should write something and get it ready to post since I'm not going to have great Internet access nor will I have time to write much right when this thing hits the newstands. Why do I care? Because I'd like to give some new folks who might be arriving based on that article, a quick summary of what the heck this is that I'm doing so you won't have to weed through all my ramblings to figure it out.

So... Our story so far.

This adventure began about six months ago when I started a new series of classes at Central Market's Cooking School in Austin. The idea was (and remains) to come up with a four course meal that pairs somehow to a movie. I do an hour cooking demonstration wherein I talk about the movie and the food. Then, after a short break, we eat and watch the movie. Seems easy enough, right?

From the start, I divided the information to be discussed in class into three categories:

THE MOVIE, wherein I include anecdotes, interviews, and other material relating to the making of the movie, the actors, the director, the production, etc.;

BACKGROUND & CONTEXT, the section I most enjoy because I can pretty much rant about anything related to the movie. For example, in the first class, which was Casablanca, I discussed why refugees were in Casablanca, and why they were trying to get to Lisbon. The idea is that it can be anything which offers you some insight, and enhances your viewing experience, of the movie;

THE FOOD, where I discuss things - sometimes serious, sometimes trivial - about the food I'm making and how it relates to the movie.

So then the blog began as a way to supplement the classes. But right away I realized how much fun I was having researching and writing for the class that I wanted to do it more often (since the classes are usually months apart from each other) and that got me to start the posts called TV Bites, which I do, oh, about every two weeks or so, where I discuss a movie, but only have to come up with one recipe instead of for a whole class. This month, there'll only be two films as I'm adventuring in the real world. So there'll be one film from Thailand, the other from Vietnam - the two countries I'm visiting (and taking cooking classes in).

While the classes are skewed towards more popular movies, the blog is a place where I can explore movies I like but may not have broad enough appeal for a class.

As with everything in life, there are some rules (though they're rules I've self-imposed) for this adventure.

The first is that there are movies I will not consider. Why? Because they're too obvious, mostly. You know, you're basic "foodie movies." I have a list here, which is by no means definitive. If you're interested in these kinds of food-related films, here's a book for you. But barring that, there are no rules or any master plan for movies I'm choosing here. Whatever strikes my fancy at the moment. Also, you'll note lots of links within the posts which will either take you to the source of the quote or information I'm imparting in the post, or to some further information I think you might find interesting.

The other self-imposed rule is that the dish(es) are conceived through three basic criteria. The first is that it can be a recipe from something eaten or discussed in the movie. The second is a celebrity recipe from possibly the actors, writers, directors - you get the idea. The third is a dish relating to the location of where the movie is set. There is a fourth which has no name, but could be thematic or just riffing off the movie. For example, for North by Northwest, there is scene where Cary Grant & Eva Marie Saint are in a dining car of a train and order brook trout. Earlier in the film, Grant is forced to drink an entire bottle of bourbon. What I wound up making was Bourbon Cured Smoked Trout. See how it works?

Someone once said that “Cuisine and music both exist in the form of performances” and I think the same is true of cuisine and movies. Eating and watching movies have a lot in common and maybe that’s why they go so well together. I think no matter where in the world you go to a movie theater, there's someone selling food to eat while watching the movie. And there's nothing like sitting home and enjoying a good movie with a good meal.

Now there are good recipes and bad recipes, but there are also dishes that some people like and others don’t - but that doesn’t make them good nor bad, what it makes is that when we go to a restaurant we don’t all order the same thing. And it's the same with movies. I do think some people get a little too wrapped up and get all tribal about their likes and dislikes. Opinions these days are like Taco Bell tacos, made quickly and don’t have a lot of meat in them. Of course, that’s just my opinion. And if you don't like a particular movie, or a particular dish, that's okay. But hopefully if you spend some time visiting this blog, you will discover both new and interesting movies and dishes. And that will make me feel like my life has some purpose.

As for me, let me be clear - I am not a chef. I'm just a guy who likes to cook... and watch movies. About a decade ago, I decided to really learn more about cooking and began taking classes at Central Market's Cooking School and in that time I've been very fortunate to learn from not just local, but also world-famous chefs like Martin Yan, Michel Richard, Bobby Flay, Diana Kennedy, Rick Bayless, Marie Simmons, and Madhur Jaffrey, among many others.

Beyond this culinary diversion, I've just completed co-writing Ok Buckaroos!, a documentary on singer/songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker, which will be hitting festivals around the country shortly. I'm also currently associate producing another excellent documentary, Record Man, which is nearing completion. I've also got some scripts I'm being coerced into developing when I get back home (another reason I'm in Thailand - mixing business & pleasure - visiting friends on the set of their film The Impossible, starring Naomi Watts & Ewan McGregor, which is based on a true story about a family that survived the tsunami a few years ago.)

So now this should bring you up to speed. Please browse around, read up on some favorite and new movies, and enjoy cooking up some great meals to watch them with. The tagline is: cook, watch, eat & enjoy! So please do....


1 comment:

  1. Like what you do. Discovered you on Criterion's website. Thanks for the food.