The cooking scenes showcase such a real take of everyone eating deliciously, and the music and graphics are fantastic. How did you come up with this idea?I had been speaking to Brian about making a cooking show for some time past. In 2016, we moved into our current loft which has a large kitchen, and there were even more opportunities to cook. We often had parties at our place where we’d call friends for a jam session, then when it was over everyone would eat the that food I made, and I thought that it would be pretty interesting if we could capture that on film. That’s the sort of atmosphere that’s shown in Grand Street Milki. Last year (2019), we had taken a short break from hosting parties but we became friends with younger people, such as the filmmaker Woods and the artist Grave, so we decided to make a cooking show together; and what we filmed in January 2020 became that pilot. It’s filmed as if at a party, without a script or plan like a standard cooking show, and since it wasn’t shot to show the step by step process to the finished product, it seems that the editing process was quite a struggle… When I think about it now, we needed someone like a filming producer (laughs). But, I’m relieved that everything came together well in the end. To be honest, there’s another episode in the same series, a video where I am simply cooking alone. Maybe I’ll have it shared on Positive Messages too.
I would love to see it. Could you tell us what was it that caused you to start cooking seriously?The simple reason is that I had no choice but to cook for myself once I came to NY. At the time, my roommate was an artist who loved Japan and Japanese food. Since they were thrilled with the simple Japanese dishes I made for them, I started from there, little by little. Japanese food is very popular and everyone loves it, but none of the restaurants are affordable. When it comes to Japanese food, I usually make it at home since I can approximate it by myself. When I make simple foods from Japanese-based cuisine, my friends are really happy and they also express surprise to me like, what was the Japanese food that they had eaten so far!?. When I first made hand-rolled sushi, Brian was so impressed that he said to me, “I can’t believe that the day has come that I can eat sushi at home!” (laughs). For anything really, my motivation comes from making things for someone else, and sharing with them. Hearing their responses, and thinking of how I would like to try feeding them that the next time. So, you could say that getting into cooking was the biggest factor for me to start dating Brian.
Have you had any failed attempts at cooking?I’ve never considered them failures. I only make simple dishes so there isn’t any chance of failure. But, like making sure to drain the ingredients well after washing them, making sure that the frying pan is well heated before starting, knowing that adding sake or ginger will make the dish taste much better, I feel that continuing with these basic things when cooking has become the method that assures that I will not fail. It’s little things built up that you call experience.
How do you come up with your recipes?For example, I don’t eat meat so I take care to include beans a protein source, but on the other hand, Brian doesn’t particularly like them. In this situation, I think about what the both of us can enjoy eating together, and while considering these things, I try out different things like an experiment. During lockdown, I sprouted some lentils and made them into pickles. I hear that if you let them sprout, the toxins within are released, and since Brian loves sour foods he would eat it. Also, there are 46 recipes planned for the cookbook I’m currently putting together, and each recipe is catered to one of my 46 friends—like this dish is meant for this person. For me, maybe this is how recipes are born, like an extension of everyday life. I’m pretty easy going – and that’s not something limited to only cooking.
I would love to take a look at your cookbook. How is it progressing?The draft and the recipes are finished, so it’s close to completion. Photos of my dishes were taken by my friend Naoko Maeda, a photographer living in NY. I think that I will use images that are collages of those photos and Brian’s CG, and these are over halfway finished. I’m looking for an interested publisher!
In your collaborative works with Brian, both of your tastes are pleasantly blended in a special atmosphere that is wonderful.Hahaha, I’m thrilled to hear that! Brian is a hardworking creative spirit filled with energy, and I respect his inquisitive nature every day. He does a lot of commercial work but he’s always making music, images, or something in the time in-between. On top of that, he’s so quick to create. Everyone’s blown away by how fast he is (laughs).
By the way, how did you spend your time during lockdown?Looking back at it, I did a lot of various things, such as sprouting lentils from the recipe I mentioned before, and I started growing mushrooms.