If you haven't already discovered him on your own, let me introduce you to my new friend Daniel Klein, the chef and star behind web series cult favorite, The Perennial Plate (ThePerennialPlate.com). This young lad does it all; he forages, he hunts, he fishes, he cooks. His skills take him from terrine's to ceviches, from homemade ice cream frozen in the snow to braised squirrel -- all in the pursuit of socially responsible, adventurous eating. And lucky for us, he is also a gifted filmmaker too.
A graduate of NYU, Klein made a sharp left turn into the kitchens of some of the worlds best restaurants including Bouchon, The Fat Duck, Craft and Applewood. Culinary stops in Spain, India, France and a childhood spent in the kitchen of his mom's bed and breakfast in England rounds out the profile. Two years ago Klein left NYC for hometown Minneapolis with the thought that maybe it was time to open his own restaurant. As is his pattern, he got sidetracked there too and instead of laboring above a hot stove, he decided to go out and tell every local food story he could find in Minnesota.
One year and fifty-two short films about good food later (and no culinary rock left unturned) Daniel discovered his passion and has now set his sights on the rest of the country. Yay for all of us!! Two weeks ago, Daniel packed up his apartment, loaded up the car and set out on his "Real Food Tour" heading south to visit farms, co-ops, fishing holes, restaurants, gardens and home kitchens. Keep your eye out for a grey Toyota Prius packed to the gills with film equipment, two bikes, sleeping bags, a cooler, treasured cast iron pans, a few knives, one signature red sweatshirt, a few cookbooks (Harold Mcgee's On Food and Cooking as well as some edible mushroom and plant field guides) and his vegetarian girlfriend/ camerawoman Mirra Fine (one side note: she wasn't a vegetarian until she started filming some of Daniels "butcher your own meat and use head to toe" episodes!)
This is a journey worth tagging along on (especially since we get to sleep in our own beds at night). It's truly inspiring to watch Daniel explore the many faces and stories of local food. A walk in the woods turns up treasured morels which he later sautés on his small apartment stove; an interview with a family farmer movingly reveals why so many young people are returning to small scale farm life.
The Perennial Plate's weekly short webisodes not only entertain and inform but also have the added magic of leaving you feeling happy. Maybe because Daniel and Mirra are the real deal and we feel lucky to be included on this adventure that brings us so close to a simpler, cleaner way of life, one that is authentically real; homegrown food, respect for the animal, the land, the farm, the people who make it all happen, the joy of cooking and sharing food. The way life used to be and could be again if we choose it.
Culled from over 500 email submissions from every corner of the country and funded by over a hundred small donations from fans and friends, the Perennial Plate's Real Food Road Trip kicks off with their first video posting right here on the Huffington Post. No need to pack your bags, just cozy on up to the computer, bring the kids and watch!