Male Chef Is Food Porn’s Worst Nightmare
If you’ve never been aroused by an Instagram picture of an arctic char or a bowl of chocolate-ganache pudding, it’s not for lack of stimulation. At any given time, food porn occupies roughly 80 percent of all Instagram uploads, according to this sentence. Photographer and filmmaker Chris Maggio has had enough. A self-proclaimed outsider to the artisanal-food movement, Chris has created a fictional, character-driven photo blog called Male Chef as a response to the “democratization” of food media on the internet. A site dedicated to displaying disgusting images of home-prepared meals, it’s unclear if the Male Chef is a lonely bachelor, hoarder, late-night drunk with a cooking fetish, or clueless omnivore. Regardless, he’s the one you hope never invites you over for dinner.
Dr. Oz believes that food porn is making Americans fatter. Psychiatrist Dr. Valerie Taylorthinks taking pictures of your food is a sign of mental illness. Whether it’s displaced sexual frustration, lust, hunger, or a good old-fashioned desire for sploshing, food porn is a pervasive social affectation that’s taken over food-centric circles of social media. Out are civilized conversations about the velvety texture of foie gras; in are sepia-tinted pictures of a dead duck above “#OMFG” and “#delish.”
The Male Chef blog, which features stuff like disturbing photos of a bowl of chicken soup filled with peppermints and a nauseating picture of raw chorizo and black beans, is like giving oneself a visual Taser as opposed to praying down a food-porn boner.
VICE: From what I understand, you’re not the type of person who would generally be considered a foodie. Why did you start this blog?
Chris Maggio: I’m a complete outsider to the culture of food. It’s a little painful for me to live in Brooklyn because there seems to be some sort of food renaissance happening here that’s culturally relevant. I feel completely excluded from it, but that may just be my own doing. It seems like I’m clueless enough to participate in the food movement in a satirical way. Most of the fodder stems from looking at food photography on food blogs and Yelp, where the idea of going out to a restaurant and almost stealing someone else’s piece of artwork is frequently exhibited for a wide audience to see.
You’re arguing that taking pictures of your food at a restaurant is like stealing art?
In a way, yes. I think going to a restaurant where the chef takes pride in the presentation and construction of a meal is something both chefs and consumers consider to be works of art. Photographing these dishes and riding the line between the creator and curator is a blurred path, a space where the photographer gains credit for someone else’s work.
In part two of Fresh Off the Boat - Mongolia, Eddie checks out some questionable meat at a market in Ulan Bator, attends a massive outdoor metal festival, and learns how to make khorkhog at one of the country’s first truly modern restaurants.
Watch Fresh Off the Boat – Mongolia, Part 2
Fresh Off the Boat – Mongolia, Part 1
In this episode of Fresh Off the Boat, Eddie heads to Mongolia to take part in the Naadam festival, which celebrates the “three manly sports”—archery, horse racing, and Mongolian wrestling. Then he discusses the effects of Mongolia’s recent shift to democracy with some camel herders over a cup of home-brewed camel vodka.
This Guy Has Eaten Nothing but Raw Meat for 5 Years
Meet Derek Nance. Five years ago, Derek had some mystery illness that killed his appetite and made him puke up everything he ate. The doctors suspected it was an allergy thing so Derek changed his diet. First he cut the wheat and dairy, but he still continued losing weight. Getting desperate, he was soon online, chatting to people pushing all manner of lifesaving diets. Derek tried a Mediterranean diet (fish and vegetables) before ditching the fish and eventually becoming a vegan, but nothing worked. Finally, a guy who’d had similar symptoms recommended a carnivorous version of the Palaeolithic diet. With nothing to lose, Derek gave raw meat a try. That was five years ago and he now goes so far as to brush his teeth with animal fat. For reasons I don’t properly understand I wanted to watch Derek eat a meal and he obliged. I found him with his girlfriend, Joanne, in Lexington, Kentucky and we talked about vital organs, rotten meat, and health, which is the main point of this according to Derek. He’s never been healthier.
VICE: Hi, Derek. Can you tell me more about this diet? Whose idea was this?
Derek: So it was started by a dentist named Weston Price who in the 1930s studied the health benefits of eating more raw foods including meats. He studied the Native Americans and a few of them who lived on a guts and grease diet. He found people in primitive communities were much healthier than we are today, and I thought, all right, I’ll give it a try.
Was there any deliberation?
Not really because I’d been sick for such a long time that I was willing to give anything a try. I had a couple of goats in my yard that I was using for milk and you know, I was tired of milking them so I slaughtered them. I ate both of those goats, all raw, and just switched over like that.
Dear God. Did it make you sick?
No. Maybe what you get at first is a little diarrhoea, but that’s just your digestive system adapting. After the first week I felt absolutely great and I never went back.
Derek’s dinner. Chunks of lamb and fat.
And you’ve eaten nothing else since?
Yeah, for nearly six years. I’m into lamb, mainly. It’s just easy to go out to farms, barter over a decent price, slaughter it and throw it in the truck. It’s a lot harder to deal with beef because it’s a lot bigger. Pigs are kind of a no-no because they shoot them full of hormones and raise them on grains, which promote bacterial growth.
How to Be Vegan in Prison
I am a vegan. Nineteen years deep into a lifelong commitment to avoid eating anything from an animal. In following this moral code I have found myself at protests turned riots, donning cow costumes at meat processing conventions, and creeping into slaughterhouses in complete darkness to film the inhumane treatment of animals. When I was arrested in 1998 and faced “Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act” (AETA) charges that could have put me in prison for 82 years, I chose an underground life over a potential life sentence. I became a fugitive on the run from the FBI until 2005, when I was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison for releasing thousands of minks from fur farms.
While living on the lam I put as much effort into vegan dining as the FBI did into catching me. I ate seitan marinated in sesame ginger sauce and roasted red pepper hummus on sprouted grain pizza crust. I double-fisted dried strawberries and malted carob balls, drank rice shakes every morning and sipped kombucha every night. Agave nectar was my table sugar, and organic carrot-juice my wine.
Once I was thrown into a prison cell, this comfortable reality instantly evaporated. Three times a day, the slot on my cell door opened, delivering trays piled with every variety of animal flesh and byproduct. The trace amounts of iceberg lettuce barely pushed my caloric intake into the double digits. I launched a nightly letter-writing campaign, targeting anyone with influence. Everyone from the prison captain, to the kitchen manager, to Congressperson Barbara Boxer received my letters. My demands were simple: No meat, dairy, or eggs. In this one-sided negotiation process, leverage was in short supply.
After two years and seven prisons, I learned a thing or three about how to get meat-free food in prison.
Here’s my playbook for imprisoned vegans who refuse to compromise.
What Celebrities Eat at Golden Corral
Kanye West gets a plate of cake with ice cream and sits and watches that shit melt into a puddle. Once it has, he signals for the waiter to come over and get this fucking plate out of his face. Then he goes into the bathroom and washes his hands and face with the hottest water they’ve got while looking at himself in the bathroom mirror. Then he goes back out and does it again. Two hours, 17 cakes, and 80 gallons of ice cream later, he leaves a $30,000 tip in cash.
Chan Marshall of Cat Power scalps the awful and bland plaques of pastry off of the peach cobbler because they are the closest food equivalent she can find to the Void. She picks mournfully at the plaques until her date drops his fork and asks in a stern whisper why she must make her illnesses so ‘showy’ and ‘disruptive’ to everyone around her, which finally allows her to feel at home.
Season 2 of Fresh Off the Boat – Trailer
In Fresh Off the Boat season two, Eddie takes you on a global excursion examining cities in transition. From the abandoned Packard Plant in Detroit to migrant Kyrgyz workers in Moscow to the yurts of the Gobi Desert, we see the wreckage that global capitalism has left behind and get a glimpse of what could be its next meal in the Mongolian steppes. From high-powered meetings with the pandas of Chengdu and pasta with self-proclaimed celebrity gangster Dave Courtney, we ask the people on the ground whether the changes we’re seeing and the progress we’ve been promised are actually helping the every day man in his pursuit of happiness. Of course, this all happens through the lens of food, across a table, on a plate. Fuck with the kid.
The premiere episode of Fresh Off the Boat season two will air September 30 on VICE.com.
Watch the trailer
VICE Eats – Action Bronson
We followed the multi-talented Action Bronson from the kitchen to the stage during this year’s Bushwick Block Party. Action headlined the party and also ran his very own food truck, supplying the masses with gourmet goodness. Check out these videos to see how his vision of combining his two passions became a reality.
Watch the video
Watching Three People Eat a $384,000 Burger Is Surprisingly Boring
As the world’s population hurtles towards an estimated nine billion by 2050, global food shortages are becoming a very real problem. In no sector is this more apparent than the meat industry. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that around 70 percent of all agricultural land on Earth is currently used for meat production. It also predicts the demand for meat will increase by more than two thirds in the next 40 years as the middle classes grow in newly industrialized countries in Asia and South America.
Aside from awful humanitarian and animal cruelty issues, the meat industry is thought to have a significant effect on global warming as belching, farting livestock produce huge quantities of methane—a greenhouse gas33 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. It’s obvious that the meat industry as we know it is unsustainable, but for the vast majority of us the prospect of turning vegetarian is pretty grim. Vegetables aren’t filling, Tofurkey tastes like wet Band-Aids, and the prospect of mass farming insects to squish into bugburgers makes me want to sew up my mouth and anus.
Fortunately, Professor Mark Post thinks he’s come up with a way for us to save the planet and gorge until we get the meat sweats. Unfortunately, it’s not all that cost effective yet.
Professor Mark Post.
By harvesting muscle tissue from a living cow, Professor Post is able to cut the tissue into individual muscle cells. Each cell can then yield up to one trillion more, which will then naturally join up to form new muscle tissue. Five years and approximately $384,000 after he started, Professor Post had created the world’s most expensive burger patty, ready for an unveiling and tasting ceremony in London. As the world’s media descended on the presentation in Hammersmith, I went along to see if “cultured beef” really was the savior the meat industry needs.