ABOUT THE QUEENS CHEF PROJECT
DREW REID KERR
Creative Director, Queens Chef Project
Chefs and their teams are like second families to all of us because they feed us with their craft.
They are central to all of our communities.
Communities are not inanimate objects served on a plate. A community is the team of cooks in the kitchen working hard to create the meals on those plates with love and care. The host greeting you when you enter. The owner chatting with you about your vacation. The server dashing on their feet the entire shift but keeping a smile and staying helpful when you order.
You are visiting my one-year passion project: an online exhibition of 50 chefs from Queens telling stories about the objects in their kitchens that mean the most to them. The ones you look at, carry with you, keep on display, or use every day.
I shot more than 17,000 photographs, taped countless interviews, recorded lots of video, and traveled to all corners of Queens by subway, bus, and railroad.
Why did I do this? Because outside of our families, these are the people who take care of all of us. After getting kicked down during this pandemic, I wanted to make sure these chefs and owners are recognized for more than pretty food pictures and recipes. I wanted them to be seen as real people with great stories to tell, underscoring that they are still standing.
Two simple rules when choosing the objects: It could not be an award. It could not be a dish on their menu.
COMMUNITIES ARE NOT
SERVED ON A PLATE.
The tiniest object was a hand-carved chopstick holder shaped like a duck, and the largest was a grand piano.
Many of the chefs never set foot in a cooking school, and a handful had never even run a restaurant before. Watching their mothers or grandmothers in the kitchen was a common theme, and there are some who had their culinary fates bestowed upon them while in completely different careers.
I do not cite any awards these chefs may have won – all their stories should be seen as equal and deserving.
The bottom line is: we have to support food heroes today so they will all be here for us tomorrow.
BY THE WAY: Before starting this project, I received a blessing from my friend Bill Shapiro, whose book “What We Keep” was also about personal treasured objects. Let’s just say my idea was inspired by Bill, much the way The Beatles and The Beach Boys were inspired by Chuck Berry.
This labor of love project would not be possible without all the chefs and owners who are part of this exhibit. Thank you for your time, memories, and patience.
SPECIAL THANK YOU'S TO:
Queens Food Guru
and Tour Guide
No food was harmed in the making of this project.