In April 2011, kevinEats’ blog spread the word: “This
‘traveling kitchen band’ is the most exciting thing to hit
the LA underground dining scene since Wolvesmouth, so I
recommend that you get in while you still can.”
Frizzell had done only one previous underground event, and
now he was golden. Since then, he’s done about 25 dinners,
using his underground restaurant reputation as a springboard
to expansion. He’s waiting to make it on TV and has moved
into food design, as well as consulting, presently, on Trailer
Park Truck, an LA food truck featuring a refined version of
Southern lowbrow Tobacco Road food.
“Because food is at the center of all we do, we must never
stagnate. I like constant, flowing creativity, and get physically
upset by repetition,” Frizzell says. Still, he admits, “This is
rollercoaster living. After I do an event, I don’t get out of bed
the whole next day. I cry a little bit. I have to be alone.”
Cooking is emotional. Plus, Frizzell battles “the demon that
eats me from the inside,” the need to live up to the artistic levels
achieved by his grandfather, country music legend Lefty Frizzell.
And to climb to such heights, Frizzell embraces what he values
most: “light, love, magic, truth, freedom, justice, beauty.”
rollercoaster, creative evolution or just PR?
While most of us crave stability, defining ourselves by set
places, professions and possessions, others are in tune with
the endless flux of it all. Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher,
taught us long ago that “nothing endures but change.” You
know it in your bones. You’ve heard it said, “You cannot step
in the same river twice.” (Heraclitus)
And aren’t alternative ways of dining reflective of this unending
flux that we all experience every day in our lives? It’s small
wonder, then, that more and more people, businesses and
institutions no longer rely on a uniform handbook of operations.
“If you’re not making it up as you go along, you’re out of
touch with reality, because it’s changing constantly,” says
leadership/organizational speaker Margaret J. Wheatley
in “Command and Control Only Leads to More Chaos”
(FreedomLab, The Netherlands).
Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano says, “I’m concerned
about what’s happening now . . . And what this present time
tells us of another possible time yet to come. But what that
will be in the end, I don’t know.” He compares this state to
love, which makes you relish being alive, saying not that love
will last forever, but rather that “it’s infinite while it lasts.”
(Eduardo Galeano, “Keeping the Gods Inside”)
The already famous are taking heed, too, especially when
organizational theorists tell us that living on the edge can
promote innovation and growth.
At Next in Chicago, Grant Achatz changes his concept every
three months as diners move through imaginary culinary
time and space. His most recent event pays homage to Ferran
Adrià, who closed El Bulli in Roses, Spain, in 2011, proving
that even the most famous can be victims of transience.
Once a creative alternative for struggling chefs without
restaurants, pop-ups have gone mainstream and the underground
is chic. In October 2011, Thomas Keller set up a pop-up
restaurant for 10 days at Harrods, London’s famed department
store. In December 2011, Rick Bayless, Stephanie Izard and Gale
Gand popped up for five days at Chicago’s Drake Hotel selling
“Cookies for a Cause.” Until June, New York’s Le Cirque will
pop up for one night only in private clubs across America.
In late August 2011, the big alternative dining event was Diner
en Blanc, where 1,150 elegant picnickers dressed all in white
agreed to pay $50 to dine al fresco in New York’s Financial
District, where money juices the world. There were white hats,
white shoes, white hair, white feather boas and white balloons.
Yachts swayed in their slips on the nearby Hudson River,
creating a magical backdrop (complete with a sunset) for
diners who brought their own food, folding tables, chairs and
nondisposable glasses, silverware and plates, not to mention
garbage bags for cleanup. Everything seemed spontaneous,
exquisite and spotless.
Three months later, on Thanksgiving Day, the biggest
temporary food event in New York took place in Zuccotti
Park, where diners, wearing whatever they had on
their backs, ate 5,000 complimentary meals donated by
restaurants and others in support of another well-planned yet
seemingly spontaneous phenomenon, Occupy Wall Street.
When John Fraser’s What Happens When opened in SoHo in
January 2011, it announced its own end. Fraser would continue
to run Dovetail, his successful Michelin one-starred New York