In August we got an interesting proposition -- we were asked to make a relaunch of The Victory Garden -- that perpetually running PBS gardening show. The new show would be called The Victory Garden's Edible Feast and it would be a partnership with Edible Magazines. This all sounded fine and great, except when we found out that we had to finish all 13 half hour episodes by the New Year. We at The Perennial Plate are used to releasing 3-10 minute films without any structure, timing or release constraints. So this new venture was daunting. Thankfully, we had the network of Edible Magazines across the country who already had great knowledge of their local food communities. So we got to work trying to film in 13 locations as fast as we could. We teamed up with some of our favorite online filmmakers and I spent a week with each of them, getting them used to the Perennial Plate's "style" and the structure of the new show.
We knew from the beginning that the Bay Area was a must stop (if nothing else so we could eat well after our daily shoots). I reached out to Bruce Cole of Edible SF, writer Samin Nosrat (Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat) and Naomi Starkman of Civil Eats for their quick recommendations for possible story ideas. The problem with filming in the Bay Area is that there are too many options and we had too little time. We ended up filming a gardening segment with Bruce (he also served us oysters and chablis), an incredible herb salad and tomato toast with Samin (she cooks exactly how I want to eat, all the time), jam making with Dafna Kory of INNA Jam, a day at the Mandela Foods Coop in West Oakland and a Chardonnay soliloquy from Kevin Kelly of Salinia Winery (Sadly that segment had to be cut, but we will be releasing it online or as a special).
It was a fun group to film, because a lot of them are friends (or became friends). Bruce has a sweet little garden, and he lives life to the fullest. I've been following his instagram longingly for years, and so it was fun to do the oyster and wine thing on his deck. Samin and I worked together for a dinner at Tartine years ago, and she is probably the most fun cook to film -- her laugh alone warrants a primetime TV show. Kevin Kelly is making some of the coolest wines in the US -- his Saint Marigold dry dessert Chardonnay is like nothing I've ever had. It was pretty disappointing to leave out his segment. And then Dafna is just a joy to film -- she's all bad jokes, puns and high energy...and, of course, makes an incredibly pure and delicious product.
Finally, we filmed at Mandela Foods Coop (you can see the segment in the video below). It's a pretty inspiring grocery store, owned by its workers and trying to bring healthy food to the neighborhood. They subsidize their produce by charging higher prices on more snack or high-end trendy items (kale chips, kombucha). Please enjoy the full episode below and tune in to KQED Plus TV on Saturday, January 24 at 4pm for the Bay Area episode and check local listing for the rest of the shows.