Funding for these mini food films has come from Klein's fans via Kickstarter and the National Cooperative Grocers Association. Some 15,000 people see the weekly videos, with Californian viewers coming in second behind Minnesotans as top watchers. The savvy shooter distributes his web work via The Huffington Post, Grist, Serious Eats and Take Part.
Daniel Klein and Samin Nostrat cook dinner at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco.
In the Bay Area this week, Klein teamed up with Tartine Afterhours chef Samin Nosrat to cook a memorable family-style meal for 40 last night at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. The guest list, gleaned from Nosrat's considerable good food advocate contact list, included Chez Panisse Foundation folk, Eat Real Festival organizers, and a CUESA staffer. On the menu: Simple yet satisfying salads featuring new potatoes, roasted beets, and shaved summer squash. Followed by bronze-cut rigatoni served with Riverdog Farm pork for the meat eaters and cherry tomatoes generously doused in oregano from Oakland's Pluck and Feather Farm for the veg heads.
Chad Robertson's famed rustic bread at Tartine Bakery.
Oh, and some "little snacks" to nibble on initially, mostly seasonal veggies sparingly and elegantly presented with a posse of boiled eggs topped with herbs that wowed the gourmet cooking crowd. Did I mention that Chad Robertson's famed rustic bread was in abundance (and went home with diners)? Don't get me started on the Sunny Slope Orchard's apricots al cartoccio (think parchment paper) with whipped cream and lavender shortbread that provided the sweet end note to the meal.
Lavender Shortbread at Perennial Plate dinner at Tartine Bakery.
Klein and Nosrat swung through the temporary dining room, gracious, grateful and generous hosts both. Fine filmed the event, which featured music by Sonya Cotton and Gabe Dominguez. The 28-year-old chef, who has trained and worked in many top Michelin starred restaurants around the world (The Fat Duck, St. John, Mugaritz, Bouchon, Applewood, and Craft) and made films about Africa and oil politics, took some time at the end of the evening to chat about year two of his real food tour.
Guests feast at The Perennial Plate's dinner at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco.
Can you give us some of your initial impressions of the food scene in the Bay Area?
Obviously, local food here is huge, it's easy and everywhere. There are even some people who are tired of the whole idea. But I could do another 52 week series right here.
How about some highlights from your visit so far?
On the farms: Riverdog is huge but they've been able to get big without sacrificing their values or quality. Sunny Slopes is small and I ate a plum there that was probably the most delicious plum I've ever tasted. Those apricots speak for themselves. And then there's the local urban farming phenomenon personified by Esperanza Pallana of Pluck and Feather.
On the food front: We had a very good meal at Gather. It's refreshing when a high-quality chef does really interesting things with vegetables.
As for people: Samin is the most generous, relaxed, fun-filled, well-connected person to work with -- she organized this whole event -- and she's a great chef as well. And then there's the incredible generosity of the woman in Glen Park, a random stranger, who heard we needed a place to stay and put us up for three nights.
Has anything surprised you in your travels?
People's generosity and willingness to share their stories. We've met people who work really hard and maybe don't have much but they still take the time to show us their world and teach us new things about food. People have fed us, given us a bed, and while we've certainly been in situations where some subjects are off limits, nobody has murdered us.
What's the message you want viewers to take away from your films?
We want to educate and entertain and project a positive image of food around the country, without making it seem like things are perfect out there, because they're not. We're not trying to tell people what to do. We're trying to make people think about their food and become more engaged with what they eat.
Foraging with Hank Shaw before we head to Ashland for a coop cookout on July 3rd. Once the road trip is over we'll have time to think about related projects like a cookbook or a long-form film based on our travels. But right now we're only a third of the way into it, so we're busy hitting the road, editing en route, and meeting and eating with a diverse range of food and farming people around the country. The adventure continues.
Stay tuned for The Perennial Plate's Bay Area installment coming soon in this space.
Check out The Perennial Plate's website and blog.