With so many fields relying on technology and invention for progress, the food culture in and around San Francisco is largely connected through notions of preservation. And in the Bay Area, 'preservation' is more than just canned goods and dried fruits. From the ecological activists who strive for sustainable agriculture, to the local homesteaders who work to preserve their own heirloom produce, the landscape is rich with foodies dedicated to preserving both environment and tradition.
In this first BAN6 conversation, YBCA welcomes three local food luminaries, Bryant Terry, Leif Hedendal and Novella Carpenter, to shed light on the culinary culture around us. Bryant Terry is an eco-chef and activist from Oakland whose work and writing reconciles contemporary thinking with old practice. His recent book Vegan Soul Kitchen re-examines soul food traditions with innovative recipes and political grace. Novella Carpenter, author of Farm City, is a journalist and farmer, who for ten years has been transforming her Oakland vacant lot property into a flourishing urban environment. Leif Hedendal is chef and founder of Dinner Discussions and Secret Dinners, Bay Area culinary events which combine art and food.
Bryant Terry is an eco chef, food justice activist, and author of two critically acclaimed books–Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African–American Cuisine and Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen (called 'ingenious' by New York Times). For the past ten years he has worked to build a more just and sustainable food system and has used cooking as a tool to illuminate the intersections of poverty, structural racism, and food insecurity. His interest in cooking, farming, and community health can be traced back to his childhood in Memphis, Tennessee, where his grandparents inspired him to grow, prepare, and appreciate good food. Bryant contributes essays and recipes to a number of online and print outlets, and his work has been featured in Food and Wine, The New York Times Magazine, Yoga Journal, Jet, Vegetarian Times, and many other publications. He was also a host on the first season of The Endless Feast, a 13–episode public television series that explores the connection between the earth and the food on our plates. Bryant's first book (coauthored with Anna Lappé with a foreword by Eric Schlosser), Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen, was the winner of a 2007 Nautilus Award for Social Change. From 2008–2010 he was a fellow of the Food and Society Policy Fellows Program, a national project of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In 2002, Bryant founded b–healthy! (Build Healthy Eating and Lifestyles to Help Youth), a multi–year initiative designed to empower youth to be active in creating a more just and sustainable food system. Bryant is currently working on his third book and a television project. He lives and creates in the Laurel District of Oakland, California with his wife Jidan and their bird Kiwi.
'Bryant Terry knows that good food should be an everyday right and not a privilege.' — Alice Waters
A child of back–to–the–land hippies, I grew up in Idaho and Washington State. I went to University of Washington in Seattle where I majored in Biology and English. I’ve had many odd jobs including: assassin bug handler, book editor, media projectionist, hamster oocyte collector, and most recently, free–lance journalist.
I studied under Michael Pollan at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism for two years. My journalistic work reflects my interests — in farming, food, the environment, and culture. In a nutshell, I like to tell stories about people who follow unconventional paths.
As for the urban farmer in me, I’ve been cultivating the city for over ten years now, and my neighbors still think I’m crazy. It all started with a few chickens, then some bees, until I had a full–blown farm near downtown Oakland. My memoir about this farm was published by the Penguin Press June 11, 2009, and is available at most bookstores. If it’s not at your favorite shop — just ask them to order a few copies. Farm City is now in paperback, as of May 25, 2010. novellacarpenter.com
'If you think the local food movement is getting a tad precious, then you'll relish Farm City ... By turns edgy, moving, and hilarious, Farm City marks the debut of a striking new voice in American writing.' — Michael Pollan
Leif Hedendal is a San Francisco–based independent chef and cultural producer. His work focuses on weird vegetables, conviviality, whole foods education, food justice, and community building. He has done food–based work at Southern Exposure, Triple Base Gallery, Studio for Urban Projects, Space All Over (NYC), Open Engagement (Portland), He Said She Said (Chicago), Roots and Culture (Chicago), and InCUBATE (Chicago). His project Dinner Discussion recently went to Copenhagen, NYC, and Chicago. Dinner Discussion is a monthly dinner bringing together contemporary artists, food activists, and researchers to discuss their projects and form connections. Leif also organizes underground and pop–up restaurants, teaches cooking classes, and has a catering business. His cuisine focuses on highly seasonal and under–utilized vegetables, urban agriculture projects, and wildcrafted ingredients. He recently returned from an internship at restaurant noma in Copenhagen. Leif is involved with the Slow Food movement and was a recent delegate at the Terra Madre conference in Turin. Leif has or will be a guest lecturer at California College of Art, San Francisco Art Institute, and the Danish Royal Academy of Art.