Posted on March 07 2019
V&V team member and author of The Edible South, Marcie Cohen Ferris, sat down to chat with James Beard award winning chef, community leader, author and activist, Andrea Reusing. Read their conversation and then come hear more from Andrea at the next Vert & Vogue Happy Hour event on Friday, March 15th, from 5:30 – 6:30pm.
Knowing that the path to our passions are circuitous and often surprising, what initially brought you to North Carolina? What happened NEXT?
I was 28, wanting to see what life was like outside NYC and also chasing a guy. I got him.
Why is food one of the most important lenses to view a place? How so for North Carolina, specifically? And what do we fail to see?
The process of growing, cooking and eating food is really our last remaining connection to the physical world and the only daily decision that allows us to make change.
Here in North Carolina, the choices we are making about how we produce food are fundamental to finding solutions to our biggest challenges: eradicating hunger and poverty, reconciling the rural-urban divide, preserving and growing culture and ecological diversity, and creating independent, self-sustaining localized economies.
What do we fail to see?
That our focus on producing cheap food for export and out-of-state profit has held us back and failed many farmers and rural North Carolinians.
Your family epitomizes creativity. Tell us something about your favorite people—your husband, Mac McCaughan (founder of Superchunk and Portastatic; and co-founder of Durham’s Merge Records), and your two children, daughter Oona, and son Arthur.
Mac makes it all happen, especially the fun and adventure. Oona and Arthur are both inventive and independent. Right now they are into making books, taking pictures, and drawing. Oona just started driving, and she is a good driver and loves it. They both have a pretty solid skepticism about how their parents spend their time. Rock shows and farmers markets are a hard pass. We all come together on visiting new places, politics, art, and sleeping late.
Your restaurants are set in beautiful and evocative spaces. We see that same style in your personal aesthetic. What speaks to you in design?
The scariest project to me would be one with a totally blank slate, like creating a big space in new construction or building a brand new house. The things that are the most compelling and satisfying to me are usually the outgrowth of a weird existing condition or solving a problem.
In a 2015 article examining the vibrant “North Carolina food sisterhood” of chefs, writers, entrepreneurs, farmers, and producers in this state, NYT’s journalist Kim Severson noted your much lauded management philosophy. How does the notion of ‘family’ intersect with your core beliefs about management (and being managed?)
Family and work have many similarities, but also important differences. Boundaries for one. Treating them like they are interchangeable creates friction.
Images courtesy of Kitchen Patrol.
As a powerful writer and public intellectual (including this TedxUNC talk), you have pushed back against the elitism and branding of the ‘farm-to-table’ movement, and even described how that style of eating can become “a kind of theater.” How so, and what is a corrective?
How and what we eat has become a statement about status and perceived values. Foodie-ism and so called 'farm-to-table' is a cultural phenomenon that largely exists without the input of the people who grow, cook and serve food and who are also both the largest and poorest workforce in the United States.
It’s a fact that women are excellent multi-taskers and collaborators. I cannot imagine two places that better represent the successful outcome of these talents than Lantern and the Durham Hotel where the community can dine, meet, work, envision, create, play, relax, engage, celebrate, ponder, and, of course, revive. Your thoughts on “third spaces”—those places between home (‘first’ place) and work (‘second’ place), where we exchange ideas, have a good time, and build relationships?
I’m in an eternal third place mindset. I’ve never had an office and wrote my book at a coffee shop.
And, as it is Happy Hour, tell us your favorite liquid refreshment and cocktail-time snack, please!
Popcorn & negronis
We hope you'll join us on the 15th to visit with our special guest, Andrea, and enjoy a drink on the house!