Sky Full of Bacon

Mendez on Liccioni

A while back I was talking to a chef who had just been written about by a national publication, and one of his comments, not in anger but just in wonderment, was “They left out so much!”

Which is what we all do, no? Chefs or video-makers, we all leave lots of scraps behind. And nobody moreso than me, since a lot of times I just start shooting and wait to see if a subject will reveal itself. (A benefit of having no particular deadline, I suppose.)

Back around the beginning of the year, Mark Mendez, the executive chef of Carnivale, expressed interest in being involved in a Sky Full of Bacon in some way. I said sure and was on his doorstep almost immediately. I shot about four hours of video, most of it interview, and only over time did my subject appear— using a giant restaurant like Carnivale to explore how realistic a lot of the Michael Pollan-esque goals for reforming our food system are. Because if small farmers and better agricultural practices can’t serve a restaurant that seats 600, they’ll never serve a country of 300 million.

So four hours— and in the end his part will be ten minutes. (In the end it also meant I had to sit on his part for a few months, because there’s not really much point in talking to farmers for the other side of the story until you have something green to shoot for B roll. I’ll actually be shooting the last bits of that this week. UPDATE: Nope, probably next week if it rains a lot this week.) Along the way as Mark and I talked (and he’s a great talker), there were any number of other things that came up that didn’t fit into this narrative, and I decided to pull out one I really liked and put it up as a standalone outtake— and a little bit of a preview. It has to do with an experience that he found really inspiring, and a chef he respects: Roland Liccioni, who was then at Le Francais. It’s about 2-1/2 minutes, so enjoy— and watch for the final piece, soon.

Chef Mark Mendez talks about Le Francais from Michael Gebert on Vimeo.

P.S. Speaking of chefs, the greatest meat market in the world, Paulina Meat Market, is continuing its spring-summer series of in-house demo/tastings, “Meat the Chef,” this Saturday with Carol Wallack of Sola. If I recall correctly, Jean Joho will be next month. It’s from 10 to 1, 3501 N. Lincoln at Cornelia (not Paulina).

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