Chef and activist Daniel Klein and James Beard Award–winning filmmaker Mirra Fine — the duo that is The Perennial Plate — travel across the world to tell the stories of sustainable eating through film.
With roots in Minnesota, Klein and Fine branched out across the United States exploring Sri Lanka, Spain, Italy, Ethiopia, Japan and more. They are now in their fourth season, spending a summer in Colorado, autumn in Ireland, and winter in Mexico.
We caught up with the team to learn more about their project and the lessons they’ve been learning along the way.
Experience Life | Where did you get the idea for The Perennial Plate?
The Perennial Plate | Daniel started this project to combine his passions for activism, food, and filmmaking. And he roped me into it (his girlfriend at the time) when he was in need of a camera person while he butchered a full lamb on our kitchen counter. I didn’t have any experience in film before he taught me.
EL | What have you learned about food, people, and culture throughout this project?
PP | I think we’ve learned that everyone really appreciates being listened to. It’s important to give people that time to share their story.
EL | Do you have a favorite food destination from your travels?
PP | That’s a tough one. Though I would say the one country where every single meal was amazing (whether it was at a fancy restaurant or being dished out on a street corner with a cow standing nearby) would be India. Never a bad meal.
EL | What does adventurous and sustainable eating mean to you?
PP | “Sustainability” might be the word that connects the episodes, but the path to sustainability lies in the human connection. If we continue to value profit over people, to see the earth, our bodies and our fellow citizens as things to exploit, then we are doomed. But when we remember that someone had to spray pesticides on those vegetables at the expense of their health, or that a pig had to suffer in confinement to bring us cheap meat, or, on the positive side, that a farmer worked hard to raise that chicken on grass or that they used a method that has been passed down for generations, we begin to remember that our choices have a human impact. So we strive to make movies that make those connections, that make you think and reconsider and be inspired to make good choices. Our films are about food, but they are really about people.
EL | If you could encourage or challenge our readers to look at food and culture in one way, what would you tell them?
PP | I’d ask people to remember that we aren’t alone on this world. Every piece of food has touched someone else’s hands and been a part of someone else’s life — be it human or animal, in the United States or in a place halfway around the world.
Keep up with these foodie travel adventurers at www.theperennialplate.com as they create 10 videos in their next three locations — Colorado, Ireland, and Mexico. Follow them on Facebook at @theperennialplate, Twitter at @perennialplate, and Instagram at @perennialplate.