"Bacon Crack" is a freakishly delicious combination of chocolate and bacon, and the secret ingredient of Kai Kronfield's blossoming chocolate business Nosh This. Kronfield is a trained architect who launched the project in 2008 after the economic downturn left him out of work.
In 2009, ForageSF, an organization that promotes foraged and local cuisine in San Francisco, brought together a diverse group of aspiring chefs, bakers, and gourmets under the umbrella of an "Underground Market." Kronfield is one of the many vendors who got their start at the market; now he sells his chocolates in stores and online. In this series, filmmaker Eric Slatkin has teamed up with ForageSF to document the craft and passion of some of the foodies that make up San Francisco's growing "underground" food scene.
Iso Rabins, the founder of ForageSF, talked about the evolution of the organization earlier this month in an interview with The Atlantic, accompanied by another documentary portrait of Laura Miller and her raw vegan desserts. The documentary series will continue to expand as well; Slatkin shares his thoughts on the project in an interview below.
The Atlantic: What inspired you to pursue the vendors at the Underground Market as a documentary series topic?
Eric Slatkin: All it took to get inspired was to visit one of the markets and see the energy of these young, creative people making all kinds of interesting foods. I've shot with many professional chefs in the past, and while the vendors might not have as much experience, their talent and motivation is extremely admirable, and something I felt important to capture on video.
What do you look for in a person when you decide to profile them?
I first make sure the food is great and the process is intriguing -- that they're pushing the envelope in some way. And because many of the operations are pretty grass-roots, they often have non-conventional stories of how they got their start and built up their business. Kai of Nosh This was an architect before he was laid off in the recession. And at the insistence of his friends (who were noshing on all of the chocolates he made them) he decided to make a go of it.
How do you see the series developing? Who are you profiling next?
I'd like to cover as many vendors as possible, in diverse fields of foods. And while the Underground Market is on hiatus, the series is naturally developing as vendors are branching into all sorts of unique pop-ups and alternative eating spaces. Next up, we're featuring Rice Paper Scissors, who make Vietnamese street food. They've been rocking it, partnering with companies like Blue Bottle and Mojo Cafe, and were even visited by Anthony Bourdain a few weeks ago. I see the series following the stories of these vendors from setting up booths on the street and at the market, to landing in kitchens and storefronts of their own.
Having taken photos at the Underground Market, I know the food is the biggest perk of shooting there. Do you have any culinary favorites from the Market?
Ha, so many! One of the great aspects of the market is that there's always new vendors and foods to try out. But on top of Nosh This and Sidesaddle Kitchen, The Meat Baller (!), Ooh La La Lumpia, and Emmy's Pickles and Jams are pretty awesome.
For more videos by Eric Slatkin, visit http://www.hitthehighbeam.com/.