The Perennial Plate is an online weekly documentary series dedicated to socially responsible and adventurous eating. The episodes follow the culinary, agricultural and hunting explorations of chef and activist, Daniel Klein. Season One took place over a calendar year in Minnesota where every Monday for 52 weeks, Daniel and cameragirl Mirra Fine released short films about good food. In Season Two, they will be traveling across America, taking the viewer on a journey to appreciate and understand where good food comes from and how to enjoy it.
Bay Area Bites asked Daniel about Season Two's Real Food Road Trip -- the mission, the project, the plan for the Bay Area and how people can participate.
Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine jump for joy in front of the vehicle that will take them on the Real Food Road Trip. Photo: Tim Klein
BAB: What is the mission of you trip? How does a road trip around the country fit in with your project? What do you expect to accomplish? Why did you choose the specific destinations you plan to explore?
Daniel: The mission of our trip is to explore and promote what good food is in this country. What “good food” or “real food” means is, of course, up for question. And we don’t pretend to know. This trip is about engaging and learning with the people who are passionate about their food.
The first phase of The Perennial Plate was about Minnesota. It was extremely local and/or regional. There is fantastic stuff happening here, much like the rest of the country. We couldn’t move on and just do a year in Iowa, so we decided to take on the whole country and show glimpses of these places in all their similarities and differences. It also just seemed like the logical next step for the show.
We expect to learn a lot. What I film is generally something I want to learn about, so we just bring the viewers along on that same educational and entertaining journey. Beyond learning, we hope to meet (and entertain) a lot of people, and develop a project that is a real celebration of all that goes into food (animals, the earth, water, money, politics, humans, love).
The destinations on our map are not set in stone. We want this journey to be guided by the people who submit ideas, or have stories to tell. We drew a map of places we wanted to visit, but it will surely change and develop.
Real Food Road Trip Map. Illustration: Mirra Fine
BAB: After a year documenting local Minnesota food + farming what kinds of local stories will you seek from specific regions? Are you going to try to capture the essence of the local cuisine? Or are you just looking for compelling stories?
Daniel: There are some regions where we really want to focus on the food that makes that place famous, but other places we’ll avoid the obvious choices. The truth of the matter is we don’t know yet. In the first few days of announcing the project, we received hundreds of story ideas, we are still sorting through them.
We are looking for compelling stories most of all. But each episode will vary. One week may just cover “Iowa” and have several short stories about food in that state. Another week could be a more in depth look at just one fisherman in Louisiana. We don’t like to repeat a format each week, and we think that changing things up keeps people coming back. One thing that will stay constant is that each week will keep moving, we’ve only got 6 months to cross the country.
BAB: When do you anticipate being in the Bay Area? What types of stories are you looking for to capture the food culture of the Bay Area? Do you have anything lined up yet? How can people submit their stories?
Daniel: We expect to be in the Bay Area in late June, early July. I am really excited about the Bay Area, but also a little nervous. There are so many stories there, it seems like everyone and there brother is involved with food in some way. So we could do something on just how prevalent and awesome good food is. We have been in touch with a number of folks in the Bay Area, but nothing is confirmed yet. On our website we also got hundreds of stories from across the US, many were from the Bay Area. We are still accepting ideas on our site, please: Tell Us Your Local Food Story.
Mirra Filming with second camera. Photo: Chuck Peterson