Evan Kleiman's taste of life, culture and the human species.
Pie is not a drag, coffee for all, dry-aged fish
40:09If RuPaul, Rose Nylund and Julia Child had a baby, she'd be Bertha Mason, a Midwestern pie-baking drag queen with a killer sour cream and raisin pie recipe. Shanita Nicholas and Amanda-Jane Thomas put their legal careers in the rearview mirror to open a coffee spot in Inglewood to inspire community. “Fresh is boring,” according to fishmonger Liwei Liao, who operates the only market dry-aging fish in the country at The Joint along Ventura Boulevard. Neither rain nor hail can stop chefs from frequenting the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market.
Fungal apocalypse, Cambodian food, cream pies
56:51Joe and Celia Ward-Wallace opened South LA Cafe with a mission to fight racial, social and economic inequality. Their next project? Overseeing the Natural History Museum's entire food and beverage program. The first season of "The Last of Us" concluded last Sunday, and mushrooms played a big role in this new, dystopian world. Tejal Rao asks: Are fungi here to destroy us or save us? Visoth Tarak Ouk aka Chef T was born in a refugee camp in Thailand to parents who survived the genocide of the Khmer regime in Cambodia. His family eventually settled in Long Beach, where the chef developed a love for cooking and became a pillar of Southern California's Khmer community. Planning to enter the cream category of this year's PieFest? Margarita Manzke of Republique, Manzke, and Sari Sari is a judge, and she has tips on how to win a ribbon. From Haruki Murakami's stir fry to Maurice Sendak's chicken soup with rice, Adrienne LaFrance recalls the 12 most unforgettable descriptions of food in literature. Finally, Bill Addison finds Shanghainese cuisine among a field of Sichuan-dominant restaurants.
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Celeb restaurants, Irish desserts, making tacos metal
57:06Just in time for the Academy Awards, journalist and historian Hadley Meares uncovers two of LA's earliest celebrity restaurants. Tejal Rao, critic at large at the New York Times and a KCRW PieFest judge, talks about the beauty, the versatility, and the wow factor of savory pie. "The McSatan" and "The Bruja" are on the menu at Evil Cooks where Alex Garcia and Elvia Huerta are on a mission to "Make Tacos Great Again." JR Ryall went from student to pastry chef at Ballymaloe House in County Cork, Ireland. At the farmers market, blood oranges are getting a squeeze.
The Pie Contest returns, Parsi food and pantry cooking
56:56After a three-year, in-person hiatus, KCRW's Good Food PieFest & Contest returns — with a vengeance. Claire Saffitz answers the most burning after-dinner question with a new cookbook. Noah Galuten opens the cupboard and looks at pantry staples with fresh eyes. Reclaiming her identity, Homa Dashtaki abandons a legal career to make yogurt. Chef Farokh Talati explores his Parsi roots in his first cookbook. Finally, Alex Weiser brings fingerling potatoes to Santa Monica Farmers Market and chef Chuy Cervantes of Damian puts them to work.
California winemaking, plant-based Chinese, the history of rare seeds
56:40From Malibu to the San Gabriel Valley, the documentary "The Oldest Vine" explores the history of winemaking in Los Angeles. Amy Luftig and her business partner launched the first winery to open in Los Angeles since Prohibition. Hannah Che reimagines classic Chinese dishes for the vegan palate. Serena Alagappan explores the techniques and culture of eating with our hands. Former filmmaker Adam Alexander discovered an unusual pepper on location in Ukraine. It set him on a quest to unearth rare varieties of vegetables. A traveling farmers market celebrates its second anniversary at the California African American Museum.
King cake, bees, composting, chicories
56:26Matt Haines has sampled more than 80 king cakes from New Orleans bakeries, just in time for Carnival season. Professor Psyche A. Williams-Forson considers the stereotypes and stigmas of race and diet. Beekeeper Adam Novicki breaks down the exacting process of almond tree pollination in California. Michael Martinez of LA Compost has an update on the ins and outs of the green composting bin. Malli chefs Elizabeth Heitner and Nestor Silva pop up in Virgil Village at Jewel for a President's Day brunch.
Female and Indian sports bars, Korean comics, edible underwear
56:40With a modest Kickstarter campaign, Jenny Nguyen decided to flip the script on the traditional sports bar, opening a watering hole dedicated to supporting women’s athletics. Avish Naran puts a twist on traditional sports bar fare with an Italian-American and Indian mashup at Pijja Palace. Beny Ashburn and Teo Hunter of Crowns & Hops team up with Allagash to curate beer with purpose. Mara Herbkersman and Emily Bielagus are poised to bring the lesbian bar back to LA with Ruby Fruit. Sunyoon Choi and Eric Watkins document the meals and menial tasks of domestic life in Korean American Cooking Comics. Finally, independent producer Gideon Brower uncovers the quirky tale of edible underwear.
California soul food, matriarchal Indian kitchens, chickens
56:47Tanya Holland recalls her family’s migration and how settling in California influenced her own brand of soul food. Asma Khan runs the only professional Indian kitchen with an all-female staff and her latest cookbook pays tribute to the women behind the food. When Sonal Ved decided to untangle the origins of Indian cuisine, she decided to tackle one specific dish — the samosa. Chef Johnny Lee steps back from Pearl River Deli to reassess the model, despite its accolades and notorieity. Jacques Pépin has been painting chickens almost as long as he has been roasting the poultry. Finally, peas are already at the farmers’ market.
Mexican vegetarian, corn smut, tortillas, veggie sandos
56:41Mexican chef Margarita Carrillo Arronte says Americans have the wrong impression of food which isn’t all about comfort — fat and fried. When a chef told Carolina Aboumrad and Ricardo Olvera that his dream product was huitlacoche, they decided to import it to the U.S. Ricardo Ortega aims to make tortillas using honest ingredients at his tortilleria, Kernel of Truth Organics. Lexis-Olivier Ray of L.A. Taco rounds up the city’s best meat markets and carnicerías. New York Times critic Tejal Rao runs down her favorite veggie sandwiches across Los Angeles. Finally, the Crenshaw Farmers’ Market has relocated again, with better visibility and a match program for CalFresh benefits.
Fungi, fermentation, vinegars, ground meat
56:46Simran Sethi explores how to reconnect with the earth through mushrooms in her series “Fruiting Bodies” for the Museum of Food and Drink. Andrea Gentl shares how her experiences photographing mushroom hunters inspired her to reconnect with her upbringing and bring mushrooms into her home kitchen. Rain means mushrooms for Tutti Frutti. Barbara Whyman tells us about foraging them and Travis Hayden has ideas for how to cook with them. Food historian Julia Skinner explores the roots of fermented foods, from bread and kimchi, to coffee and cheese. Forager Pascal Baudar uncovers place-based vinegars across various landscapes. Finally, Lisa Gill of Consumer Reports outlines dangerous bacterias found in ground beef.