I believe that introductions should be reflections of the individuals being introduced. I don’t think you necessarily need to know that Eric May is a recent graduate of Northwestern’s MFA program; but he is. And I don’t think you necessarily need to know that he runs a Roots and Culture project space in Chicago; but he does.
What I do think you need to know is that Eric is currently exploring new ideas and practices between the food and art communities, and he does it well as a chef, artist, and cook. He operates E-Dogz-Mobile Community Culinary Center, which will be slinging food the first weekend in April at The Speakeasy. – Eric’s Website
1. What is the greatest thing you have learned from opening, operating, and facilitating E-Dogz?
The greatest thing I have learned from operating E-Dogz is how collaborative the cooking process is/can/should be. Concocting recipes with my collaborators is inspiring and super fun. Sharing ideas about cooking is essential to the project, it really is the core of what I am intending to do- an exchange about food that intersects technique, cultural tradition, and contemporary politics. On a basic level though, working as a team is the most rewarding aspect to this- knowing that my homies got my back.
2. What book(s) are you currently reading?
I just saw the General Idea retrospective at the AGO in Toronto and was blown away by the seemless mythmaking, agitprop, and polished visuality of the work. Its rare to find work that can operate successfully on all these levels. So yeah, I bought the awesome catalog. I was also reminded of fellow Canadian and media theorist/ prankster, Marshall McLuhan after seeing this show and so I picked up a copy of “Medium is the Massage”.
Well, I am kind of being a wuss about running E-Dogz in the winter- I don’t have heat on the trailer. I know that come thaw I’ll be riding down to KC to jam on some Midwestern foodways for this here Speakeasy show. I’m hoping to work with Entom Foods, a project launched by a crew of University of Chicago students that are developing insect- based food products. I’m developing some hybrid Chicago street food recipes for a show I’m in at the DePaul Art Museum in the fall. Until it gets warm out I am focusing on launching The Piranha Club, a monthly supper club at Roots & Culture that has a similar collaborative approach to E-Dogz which I am hoping can bridge food and art audiences. I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve with the project though- menus will be kept secret until the events and all I will say now is that I have been researching Death row inmate’s last meal requests.
4. How do you balance the R&C/work and your personal studio?
Its not that tricky really. Balancing grad school and running the gallery was tougher than my current schedule- I mean the gallery survived just fine, but I feel like I may have lost a little momentum- I hope that the programming at R&C stays fluid and evolving. In grad school it ran on autopilot. My various practices feed each other and I see it all as part and parcel of a unified project which includes running the gallery, cooking, writing, and teaching. Oh and calling stuff art.
5. What is your favorite dish these days?
Hmm, tough one. I’ve got a few all time faves that never go out of style- pho, birria, and curries of all stripes come to mind immediately. Dishes I’ve eaten out lately that I’ve been stoked on are tripe tacos at this little grocery store taqueria in the Little Village neighborhood and Famous Hunan Peppers at a new Hunan spot in Chinatown that are super simple- fried peppers with garlic in black bean sauce. The best thing I’ve cooked lately would have to be- and bear with me it sounds corny, but is incredibly decadent and delicious- Jamie Oliver’s Kate and Will’s Wedding Pie. Its essentially a beef stew with barley cooked in flavored with stout, mustard, and sharp cheddar cheese with a rich pastry crust baked on the top. Damn good eating.