Stories from the Kitchen

After lunch one day at Earl’s Grocery, photographer Peter Taylor was inspired. He’d spent the last hour listening to the banter between two friends and seasoned chefs Marc Jacksina and Clark Barlowe. “This is the conversation we should be sharing,” he told them. “Chefs talking to other chefs.” That’s when the concept of “order/fire,” a web series that explores untold stories of the local culinary scene, was born. Now in its third season, Jacksina is the series storyteller and Darius Monte Evans helps with photography in the 20- to 30-minute episodes featuring notable local chefs, mixologists, purveyors, and farmers. We caught up with the talented trio to talk good food and great stories. 

What inspired you to start a culinary web series?

Jacksina: I was done with fine dining and was trying to figure out which way to go. I actually had time to get together with chefs and farmers for lunch again. During the course of these meetings I thought, “You know what people don’t get? This conversation.” As a chef, I’ve spent a lot of time being with other chefs. That downtime has always been where the narrative is.

How do you decide who you’re going to feature on order/fire?

Taylor: We pick people based off things we’re interested in and people who we feel have interesting stories. For instance, Clark Barlowe: he’s got a great story, and not just what he’s doing in his restaurant. He worked at two of the No. 1 restaurants in the world before he was 22 years old. When you hear a chef say “Oh, I got some ramps in today,” they have ramps because someone came with ramps and knocked on their back door. But when Clark says he has ramps or morels, it’s because he spent the morning foraging for them.

Why is it so important for you to tell these stories?

Taylor: I’m a storyteller. It’s what I’ve done my whole career, visually, and now through videos. I ended up in Charlotte at a really great time in the food scene. My wife had been here a long time and you can ask her and she’ll tell you stories about how dead this town used to be 15 years ago. Uptown would roll up at 4:30 p.m., and that was it. I’ve been here seven or eight years now, and it’s just blown up. I do a lot of food photography and I’ve been able to meet and get to know a lot of these chefs and now call them my friends. I want to tell all of their stories.

What are you trying to accomplish through this series?

Evans: I think one thing we really want to come across is the three-dimensionality of the chefs and people we interview. Chef Greg Collier of The Yolk Café, for instance. I was able to relate to him on a lot of different avenues. I really appreciate his ideals and his intentions for his community, where he comes from, and how he’s using his talents to give back to his community. There’s more to it than cooking food.

You host all of your premieres at Free Range Brewing in NoDa. Why there?

Taylor: We share all of the same values regarding community and quality. We knew that they were down with exactly what we were doing, and they wanted to be a part of it. And we wanted to be a part of what they were doing. We don’t ever want to leave. I’d rather have 400 people stuffed in that back room than go somewhere else.

Each episode of order/fire premieres at Free Range Brewing, where the community is invited to hear the stories during a pig pickin’ or other food-centric gathering. All funds raised from events are given to the charity of each featured guest’s choice. To watch past episodes or to find out more about upcoming premiers, visit www.orderfireclt.com.

Photo by George Lainis