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Anisha Aditya

Anisha finds a strong entrepreneurial calling in her work and believes battling with typhoons is half the fun. She interviews professionals from unconventional career options and so far has covered people from different career options - from film makers, racing drivers, musicians, chefs, athletes, entrepreneurs, photographers, writers and many more. She is also a fellow of StartingBloc Washington DC.

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Award Winning “Taste With Kevin Longa” On Building Food Documentaries Across Continents

On 14th July 2015, Longa launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the post-production editing of the first part, “TASTE: Europe,” which will premiere in 2016.

Award Winning “Taste With Kevin Longa” On Building Food Documentaries Across Continents
Award Winning “Taste With Kevin Longa” On Building Food Documentaries Across Continents

San Francisco based Kevin Longa was in dearth of jobs, career options and monetary satisfaction after finishing his graduation from UCLA. Infact, the evening he received a rejection letter from Google, he thought life had reached a paucity.

When Longa found himself at such a crossroad, he resorted to his passions – food and films. Between film club meetings and swim practice in high school, he would hit the farms and food markets to create his first food documentary. 

The UCLA alumnus is the maker of “TASTE with Kevin Longa”, which is split into three parts called “TASTE: Europe,” “TASTE: The Americas” and “TASTE: Asia”, which contain three- to-seven-minute episodes that focus on a different food, entrepreneur and location.

In order to capture the diverse interests of local food entrepreneurs, Longa said he filmed not only chefs, but also farmers, candy makers and fishermen. When it came to choosing who to film he looked primarily at the entrepreneurs’ stories, personalities and diversity. Much like the film industry, the culinary industry is based upon ‘working your way up the career ladder’ and classic apprenticeship and stages.

These episodes cover a wide range of food entrepreneurs from fancy European restaurants to Malaysian street vendors. For example, one episode stars a Viennese snail farmer and another highlights a Jewish baker in Budapest, who hopes to battle anti-Semitism with Hebrew-inspired cakes.

On 14th July 2015, Longa launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the post-production editing of the first part, “TASTE: Europe,” which will premiere in 2016.

“I want people to feel the heartbreak Chef Jacob feels when he finally sees his kids after weeks of endless catering work. I want the viewer to feel the joy when cake designer Rachel Raj adds a final flourish to her marzipan cakes. And if through that entertainment audiences begin to think about the people who make our food, then I have done my job”, says Kevin Longa, the mind and maker of TASTE.

The second unit producer of TASTE, Brian Tan invited Longa to the ASEAN International Film Festival and Awards in Malaysia. During his stay in Southeast Asia for the festival, Longa said he spoke to different food entrepreneurs to know how they began their food businesses. He was inspired to create “TASTE” through these stories.

These conversations wear a great revelation for Longa. He speaks of a former drug addict in Cambodia, Rithy, who became a master baker. “(Rithy) found baking as a way to not only bring himself up, but also bring up his fellow Cambodians,” Longa said. “He swapped syringes for whisks.”

He mentioned about Andrea, a man who left his job at IBM so that he could resurrect the lost art of snail (escargot) farming in Vienna.

Towards the end of 2013 and after extensive travelling across the globe, Longa said he officially began working on “TASTE”. He reached out to tour guides and travel and food writers to recommend locals who could be potential episode subjects. Eventually, Longa conducted Skype interviews with the interested applicants.

“Some of these entrepreneurs are really paving the way for what food and cuisine will be like years and years down the road,” said the “TASTE” story developer Steven Sterrett. “These are the stories of real people who are making a change in the world of food.”

TASTE has won numerous awards internationally, including official selection in both the Devour Film Festival in Nova Scotia, Canada in 2014 and the International Culinary Film Fest in Athens, Greece in 2015.

With a small amount of startup capital, an aspiring food entrepreneur can make a pop-up restaurant or rent a food truck and tweet/post about their food event to thousands of people. When asked about the future of food industry, Longa opines, “I could easily see filming astronaut food in space and working with technologies like Occulus Rift, which could help viewers embark upon virtual culinary tours around the world”.

Kevin Longa’s journey with TASTE took him from China to Copenhagen. He says there are very few things which unite us in this fragmented world, whereby, food and films sit at the epitome of such matters.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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