On March The 23rd I went back to Radio Nuova York. Alberto Polo, the founder of the radio and an Italian rapper in the known, invited me to join him for a friendly talk about my latest project Car to Farm, the gastro-tour that I've produced over the past year. It's always an experience traveling to the radio headquarters, located in the heart of Chinatown, or as the RNY team calls it in Italian lingo "Cinacitta", which obviously refers to the almost homonymous and famous movie set location in Rome CinEcitta' (In Italian Cina is China, where Cine is a short for Cinema). Get it?
Between a coffee, a friendly conversation with the sound engineer and "maestro" Lorenz Gavi, and some personal music suggestions that I brought along with me, we started chatting about what is going on with Car to Farm. Below find the English transcription for my non-Italian speaking friends.
The project is currently on Indiegogo until May The 1st. Make a quick visit before or after you read or listen to the interview below, and see what perks we have set up for you if you decide to donate.
Alberto Polo: Welcome to Radio Nuova York! This morning with have our dear Mauro, who came to talk to us about his latest project Car to Farm, a project that Radio Nuova York is very happy to support!
Mauro Clerici: Yes, Car to Farm. Do we want to say it in Italian? "Vai Dove Ti Porta Il Cuoco" - literally: Go Where The Cook Takes You
AP: Let me tell you, Vai Dove Ti Porta Il Cuoco is too cute. It really makes you think, that yes, I want to follow the chef, because that's where the good food is going to be! So, what is Car to Farm?
MC: Let me be honest with you Alberto. This one was supposed to be a vacation. In reality, it was because we had fun and it has in fact all elements of a true vacation. But, me being me, I wanted to attach to it something more involved and special. A little background on my personal story: in the past two years I turned around my life. As I recently stated to a friend of mine: "I turned my life 360 degrees around", after an awkward pause she corrected me to say: "You probably meant 180 degrees as you don't want to be doing a full circle to come back where you were before!". Long story short: I quit my office job, I became an Health Coach, and having a whole free summer ahead of me, a rare occasion in the life on NYC people, I called up my mom and literally asked her: "Mom, what are we doing this summer?". This brought up stories of my mom taking us around Italy with our little utilitarian car looking for the perfect accommodation and for good food (full disclosure: it was NOT a cinquecento as you have been tricked to believe but the beautiful cartoon illustrations that we have produced). My mom would literally stop in the middle of a town we liked, rolled down the window, and asked to the first person that she liked: "excuse me, where can we have some good food?". Nowadays we don't do that any longer. If anything, we'd double park and check our Yelp app to see what's around based on other people's experience.
AP: Which is not the best, I rather follow Mauro's advice!
MC: Thank you! I do believe that the in-person advice or advice from people we know locally is still the best way to get around when traveling. So, Car to Farm was born when I said to my mom: "Let's do that again!". My mom was very excited at the idea, obviously completely oblivious of the whole project that I was already masterminding in the back of my mind!
AP: But we know the Italian moms would do anything to accomodate their son! So, where this Car to Farm take you?
MC: The tour was mainly focused on Northern and Central Italy; we drove down from Lombardy to Liguria, Tuscany, Lazio, and then across Abruzzo and up north again in the Romagna region. I'd have loved to do more but we had to keep it short and sweet for many reasons.
AP: So your mom was with you, but in the illustrations I also see your girlfriend Alaina part of the tour, at the end it was the 3 of you. Is that correct?
MC: That's correct! Although Alaina joined us down in Lazio thanks to my good friends Manuel and Mary that drove her down right after she landed in Milan one afternoon. By the time they arrived, other friends from the area has joined us, and it was a big dinner party that lasted until the early morning. I got to say, that location was the only one that was not planned as part of the word of mouth strategy, so we did not what to expect. And yet, we had an amazing welcoming, people came out the farm to greet us, and the dog hopped on the side of the car until we parked the car.
AP: Wow, it's a very "Bukolic" scene you are describing. So, you basically went around collecting videos and interviewing people..
MC: Exactly! Imagine that my initial idea was to film everything with iPhones and self-sticks! While my mom was home packing the bag, I was scrambling from one friend's restaurant to the other testing equipment and logistics with my friend videographer Olivia Booker, and eventually the person I brought along with me on the trip.
AP: So, Olivia obviously accepted the hard task of following you around Italy eating great food while admiring the beautiful Italian landscapes. It must have been an hard decision to make. By the way, I'm totally free next summer to go along for Car to Farm South, I'll drop everything I have to do to come along. At the end you filmed the trip and made it into episodes...
MC: Exactly! 11 episodes plus some special content that we haven't decided how to use it yet. We have tons of video content, so much that sometimes my mom talks nostalgically of some specific moment during our vacation, and I can point exactly to the episode number and the minute when that happened. It's quite a powerful thing to have!
AP: What is the real meaning behind this project?
MC: I'm happy that you asked! The project marries very well with my ultimate goal as a Health Coach to - I don't know how to say that word in Italian- "de-glamourize" food and making it more accessible to people. We are bombarded every day by messages of terror or salvation about one ingredient being the culprit of some terrible disease versus some other ingredients which will save you from your Diabetes, and that added on top of the intimidation around cooking. All of this is dividing us from food as being pleasure, sustenance, and ultimately life. I personally call it Food with a capital F.
AP: And also on the cultural side, we have food tied to a region or the a nation. I understand that for you this tour in Italy, which everyone recognizes is the capital of food, was about unearthing small and remote places that still maintained a traditional way of growing, cooking, and eating food inherited by a certain culture and historical background. As you said before it's about the Food with a capital F, so how you eat the food and the fact that you might eat it sitting around the table surrounded by your loved ones.
MC: OK Alberto, I'm totally making you the testimonial for the tour!
AP: I got to say, I was inspired by the little book that you brought me with pictures from all over Italy, where you can see a lot fresh food, vegetables, the colors and the shape of the produce, aside from being of great quality - compliments to your girlfriend Alaina - which by the way got me so hungry, totally tempted to put to boil some water and talk over food. It would be a great idea, actually, jokes aside. So what is the next chapter for Car to Farm?
MC: I'd like to film in the South of Italy. I already have a lot of invitations to go visit hidden gems in Calabria, Puglia, Sicilia and I can't wait to go to explore the definition of food with them. You are still coming with us, right, Alberto?
AP: Absolutely. Going back to the Car to Farm you have just produced, where and when we will be able to see these videos?
MC: The episodes will be about 10 minute long and they will be available to watch on YourTube but also on my website at Don't Stop Eating.com. Obviously, I need to finish the post-production of the videos first. To be clear the content has already been filmed and the recipes already been gathered. Every aspect so far has been financed by myself, and with the mostly free time of the wonderful collaborators that have been accompanying me so far. From this point onward, I still need their help plus some additional professional help to stitch together the episodes, shoot the food for the cookbook, and to publish and market the whole series. It's a very expensive proposition, and what I actually ask is downsized compared to the film industry standards.
AP: To support this project, you set up a Indiegogo campaign where family and friends, and also strangers can donate money and help you reach your goal and publish the episodes as well as the cookbook. I can see how well produced this initiative has been so far; the caricatures and every detail has been covered very professionally. Where can we find the campaign online?
MC: You can find the online campaign directly at https://igg.me/at/cartofarm. You can also visit the landing pages at www.cartofarmtour.com and www.vaidovetiportailcuoco.com where you also can find your way to the Car to Farm blog and other articles - like this one that you are reading now.
AP: I already saw some of the videos that you guys have already produced and they look great and I must say I've been captured by the images that I've seen so far; your and your mom driving around, images to us Italian very familiar to us. That really made me feel like I was Mauro for a moment.
MC: That is wonderful. It's always good when someone identifies with what you are trying to express in images and sound.
AP: And we are happy that you have returned to our studios to tell us more about this project, especially since this is the first day of the Indiegogo campaign. As I said before, we greatly support this initiative. Not only it's an interesting idea, but it is also very well produced with lots of love and where you already spent a lot time, effort, and money. And we appreciate that a lot. Thanks for joining us and see you on the road for Car to Farm South !
MC: I'd like to close the show with a reminder to continue eating Food with a capital F even when it seems confusing or challenging. I also would like to thank all of my wonderful collaborators near and far for believing in the project but also for having fun with us.
AP: I really can't wait to see the first episodes! Ok, let's go eat now!
THANKS TO THE RADIO NUOVA YORK FOR HAVING ME. SEE YOU ON THE ROAD
FROM THE SHOP