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November 13, 2012 By admin

Brooklyn's Agrarian Avant Garde

Mark Andrew Gravel examines the relationship between people and food, drawing on visual mediums as "wellsprings of education and inspiration". He's a cook, a designer, an artist and more recently, the author of a cookbook and visual guidebook entitled, Kill the Recipe. Based in Brooklyn, Mark launched Good Farm, an initiative created to showcase and celebrate what he refers to as "the agrarian avant-garde — the forward thinking farmers, cooks, eaters, educators, activists, and artists reclaiming our land, our communities, and our health." Mark also works alongside brands to source and create food for their events; his most recent endeavour, a collaboration with Converse and Fader at the CMJ Fader Fort. Further publishing endeavours include, the college art food zine, Food + Sex and a social cooking app, that he's currently working on. As supporters of sustainable, local farming practices, and in light of our upcoming launch party for the Brooklyn Magazine curation collaboration, we caught up with Mark to find our more about Good Farm, Kill the Recipe and where to eat well in Brooklyn. With design, photography, film and video, painting and drawing as the inspiration, Good Farm works alongside agrarians to source local ingredients for restaurateurs and chefs across the country. It began in 2008 as an art and agriculture blog, but has since expanded to draw on an extensive network of place-based producers and artisans to directly connect clients with the best of their food-shed. According to Mark, "the forces behind Good Farm are people and their stories, and as Good Farm exists now, the stories are told through their ingredients and products featured on menus instead of through visual art featured on the website." Restauranteurs have become more active in their sourcing practices over the years, establishing an artisan trend that positions themselves within a market focused on locally sourced and sustainable practices. Brooklyn sits at the forefront of this trend. When quizzed about local hotspots, Mark recommends all the Marlow-family restaurants, including, Marlow & Sons, Diner, Romans, and Reynards. Further recommendations include Vinegar Hill House, Roberta's, The Meat Hook, Mission Chinese Food and Brucie. To celebrate the release of his book, Kill The Recipe: A Cookbook and Visual Guide on The Basics of Radical Bean Making and Plant Based Eating, Mark hosted a party and live cooking demonstration at Kinfolk Studios in Brooklyn, creating improvisational bean salads throughout the evening. A self-proclaimed "Bean Activist", Mark initially created the Brooklyn and San Francisco-based "Bean-Ins," a space for the public to come hang out in and sample one of many, free bean-based meals. So what's the key to creating hearty, varietal bean-based meals … "I always use all or a combination of onion, garlic, bay leaf, coarse salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper, olive oil, butter and some sort of vinegar as essential ingredients when I’m cooking. It’s basic, but you really don't need much more to make good food aside from fresh ingredients. It’s a matter of having a good base of seasonings and balancing the salt, fat, and acid to produce the best flavor. As far as condiments go, hot sauce brings a lot to the table."   Words by Emma Meres.