Host of KCRW’s Good Food (CA)
Chef Evan Kleiman is one of Chefs Collaborative’s founding Members. Our founders acknowledged their leadership in the celebration of food, and they recognized the impact of food choices on our collective personal health, on the vitality of cultures and on the integrity of the global environment.
Angelinos might enjoy giving food some thought. That’s how chef/owner Evan Kleiman saw it when she opened her beloved Angeli Caffe on Melrose in the mid-1980s. She sought to ignite her city’s food consciousness by taking what she learned traveling in Italy and serving it to her guests through a California lens. “It was always about creating an openness to new food,” she says, “about making people understand food is a prism, a window, a reflection of society.”
Evan gained a megaphone for her mission when she discovered Chefs Collaborative. “I knew good food couldn’t just be ‘isn’t this a beautiful peach,’” she says. The Collaborative urged her to join other American chefs and speak truth to power by taking swordfish off their menus to protest the depletion of the fishery. “I was so relieved. I could act and I didn’t have to do it alone.”
It was early days for the Collaborative and a first step toward chefs becoming educators. “We had to train our staff to explain why I wasn’t serving swordfish. That was my entrée into how chefs could take stands and start a meaningful conversation about food. It was radical.” Through the Collaborative, she connected with her peers. “It was power – both political and cultural – and a way to communicate that power.”
Evan’s melodious voice now reaches around the world as the acclaimed host of KCRW’s Good Food. “It’s been a 21-year-long master class in food that has taught me the world is so small, really, and un-reproducible.” Chefs are critical to explaining that fragility. “We think of ourselves as separate and discrete. But we are not. There is power in banding together.”
Everyone needs to think expansively about where their food comes from and the impacts of producing that food on our health and the health of the earth. Cheap food is never a good deal when you know its true cost. “We need to come up with a sexy way to say that,” she says with a mischievous giggle.