Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine have traveled around the world looking for stories about sustainable and socially responsible food production — while eating plenty of great food along the way. Their online documentary series, The Perennial Plate, started with an exploration of Minnesota, where Klein was living and working, and has since crisscrossed the United States and jumped to exotic locales like Sri Lanka, Turkey, Ethiopia and China, earning two James Beard Foundation awards in the process. And this summer, The Perennial Plate is settling into a two-month residency in Colorado to take an in-depth look at our state's lesser-known culinary stories.
Klein is an accomplished chef with a résumé that includes some of the world's top restaurants: the Fat Duck and St. John in England, Mugaritz in Spain, and Bouchon, Applewood and Craft in the U.S. He also directed and produced several other documentary projects before launching The Perennial Plate. Fine is a graphic artist, producer, marketing specialist and former cheesemonger. After 52 weekly episodes in the U.S. and two years spent exploring twelve countries around the world, the two had their first child and realized that they needed a little stability. So they decided on a series of two-month stints that would allow them to travel while providing a sense of place at each stop.
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Klein says they chose Colorado for their first stop because their friends who live here were telling them wonderful stories and because they were able to get plenty of additional support from the Colorado Tourism Office. "We've collected 150 stories from across the state," he notes.
Those stories include that of Bessie White, who founded the Cortez Farmers' Market 43 years ago and has only missed one Saturday during that time; Keri Brandt, a former vegetarian who married into a ranching family and is now a proponent of sustainable agriculture; and Beverly Grant, who founded the Mo' Betta Green Marketplace, which brings fresh produce and nutrition education to Denver's food deserts.
So far, two shorts — "Bessie White" and "For Place and for Animals" — have been produced and are available to view on The Perennial Plate website; the company is in Denver this week filming upcoming videos. Then they're headed back to southwestern Colorado, where they'll be visiting with Guatemalan refugees who settled in the San Luis Valley some thirty years ago to farm, and Basque sheep ranchers who have made a home in the San Juan Mountains.
After Colorado, Klein and Fine plan to take The Perennial Plate abroad once again, with two-month stops in Ireland and Mexico.