1.) What is your education background?
Graduated from Pratt Institute with a degree in Illustration / Communication Design. Also my parents (and grandparents) were artists and illustrators so the education started early.
2.) What came first the cooking for drawing?
Both really. I worked crappy food jobs and worked on freelance jobs at night, then somehow found myself working in a French kitchen, then combined the two things and it worked. The discipline and ethos of working in a real kitchen definitely influenced my artwork, and vice versa.
3.) What medium do you usually work in when creating your pieces?
I do loose sketches with soft wood less pencils and then tighten them up with colored pencils before doing a tighter version on tracing paper. The final pieces are gouache and ink on printmaking paper. For illustration jobs that need to be done faster I do ink (brush not pens) on bristol board and color it in Photoshop.
4.) How long does a typical image take to complete?
The full color food paintings take a few days from sketches to finished painting, although I can do them in a day if I have to - although they aren't as tight as I'd like them to be, or I have to keep it really simple. Although I often have to do small illo jobs in a few hours, and 2 days is the most I usually get for an alt weekly cover.
5.) Who have you worked with? Who would you like to work with?
Tons of Alt-Weeklies, especially back when I was doing mostly editorial illustration: Philadelphia Weekly, Baltimore Citypaper, Las Vegas Weekly, Village Voice. Cincinnati Magazine has given me some good work. On the food side of things, there's the menu at Hot Diggity in Philly, I also recently did a series of paintings for The Burger Map, a really cool burger joint in Brazil. I'm currently working on a menu for a Tex-Mex burger and taco food court stall in Malaysia (if you're wondering how these people find me, it's all from Serious Eats) and a giant mural for Pizza Brain, a pizzeria slash pizza museum opening in Fishtown this summer.
I'd love to paint a food truck top to bottom, I've been close to doing it a few times but it hasn't happened yet. I'd also love to do more projects that combine writing and art, like the hot dog article I worked on with Serious Eats for Rachael Ray magazine and also illustrated. Like if Sauveur or Vice sent me to document hot dogs in Uzbekistan or seafood restaurants with live music by bad cover bands in Pensacola, yeah I'd be into it.
Then there's my pipe dream of doing television. I used to do a lot more narrative comics about working in a kitchen, and always thought that a serious TV show about line cooks would be amazing, not a cute foodie show but more along the lines of the Wire. The crazy characters and dedication people have to that life is insane. Bourdain & co definitely got it with Treme and those scenes are probably my favorite in the show.
6.) Is your work in other cities than Philadelphia?
Yeah I've done illustration for publications all over (see last question) and I have my hot dog prints on display / for sale in a handful of restaurants and shops across the country.
7.) Have you collaborated with other illustrators?
Before I was writing for Serious Eats there was Drawing For Food, a food blog Kris Chau (also an amazing illustrator) and I started a few years back - we did a bunch of illustrated posts and even worked on some collaborative illustrations. These days we're both too busy for it which is sort of a bummer. I also recently worked with Thom Lessner on this crazy backdrop for a Comcast kids' show about magic tricks. I love working with Thom and think our styles look great together, maybe somebody will hire us to paint that food truck i was talking about earlier.
8.) What should we look for when your website is fully up and running?
Ha! Yeah I need to get that together. I'd like to sift through the last 10 years of work I've done and really edit it down to the best stuff, and get a bunch of my older editorial older work up there so people realize I draw something other than hot dogs.
I've also got a few shows coming up this year, Space 1026 in July, which will probably be all non-hot dog related, and a bigger show at Hot Diggity the same month (July being National Hot Dog Month) as well as a possibility of something at American Sardine Bar maybe in the fall.