Splendid Table: Turning Food into Theater with Steve Jenkins

Splendid Table: Turning Food into Theater with Steve Jenkins

Emma Christensen
Aug 20, 2008

On this past week's episode of Splendid Table, Steve Jenkins of Fairway Market reminds us that there was indeed a time before foodies were foodies. He knows because was there to when it all began!

Of his time with Dean & DeLuca in the 1970's, Jenkins says, "By golly, we changed everything because of what we did with food! We turned it into theater."

He goes on to describe how they took the food out of the glass cases and put it where people could really see it and pick it up. Jenkins talks about first starting to write descriptive signs for everything that told customers "what it was and why it was significant." No one had ever done these things before.

We especially loved hearing his descriptions of sneaking artisan cheeses from Europe into the US before the USDA caught on that this was something they could regulate!

All of the things that Jenkins described are so commonplace now. We've come to expect a choice of fine Italian olive oils, and when a product can't be imported because of government regulations, we roll our eyes in annoyance. We've even come to expect the witty descriptions of all the artisan products being offered!

Among the despair over the meat industry and our struggle to make healthy food choices, it's good to remember how lucky we still have it.

Lynne Rossetto Kasper's talk with Steve Jenkins really put a smile on our face, by golly! What about yours?

• If you missed the show, you can download the podcast from the Splendid Table website.

Related: Good Food with Evan Kleiman: Tips for Homemade Ice Cream

(Image: Flickr member Gaetan Lee licensed under Creative Commons)

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