While making documentaries began as a hobby for Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine, the married couple turned movie making into a full on career when they launched their sustainable food-centric documentary series, The Perennial Plate, six years ago. The couple travels the globe creating digital episodes, which are shared via the web series, and now, they’re shining the spotlight on Colorado’s community of food artisans.
The couple launched the Perennial Plate with the goal of creating 52 films about their home state of Minnesota in just 52 weeks. The project snowballed, and Klein, Fine, and their young son, James, have now traveled to 16 countries to capture the stories of more than 151 farmers, hunters, chefs, and creators around the world. “When it started, it was about local, organic, and sustainable food,” Klein says. “But over the years, it has become more about helping people remember that food is grown by people, and that this is the connector and common thing among us all.” Since the family has landed in Colorado for their two-month stay, they’ve been on the hunt for interesting, untold stories.
“We knew we wanted a story about a rancher and one about fishing,” Klein says, “but we also want stories that are unique, different, and diverse.” And with the help of the state of Colorado Tourism Office, two stories—one following Bessie White, who founded the Cortez Farmer’s Market 43 years ago, and another about Keri Brandt, a former vegetarian whose life was flipped upside down after she married a Colorado cattle rancher—have already been released.
The duo relies on local sources for inspiration for their stories—which range from everything from truffle hunters in Italy to dumpster divers in Washington, D.C. The stories delve into the depths of people’s lives and reveal their passionate—and often personal—relationships with food. These narratives serve to deepen the bond between the viewing public and those creating the food we consume. They’ve been a highly personal and impactful endeavor for Klein and Fine’s lives as well. After the couple’s very first video, “Turkey“, in which Klein brings home a Thanksgiving turkey and kills, butchers, and cooks it for dinner, Fine decided she no longer wanted to consume meat. “Everyone has their wake-up point on various issues,” Klein says. “Our whole lifestyle is based on this show and it enables us to interweave our life and work.”
Klein’s impressive culinary background includes time spent in Spain, France, England, India, and New York and at top Michelin starred restaurants including The Fat Duck, St. John, and Craft. But, like Fine, he also has a background in film and holds two James Beard Awards. Through their deeply personal films, the couple has the ability to make you fall in love with the subjects of the short, five- to 10-minute films. And while they hope to create a dialogue about environmental and social issues surrounding food, they also aim to capture the human moments, too.