“Family Ingredients” Review and Analysis
by Marissa Fong
“Family Ingredients” is, “a cooking/traveling/ancestral series that celebrates our multicultural history by following the recipe.” –Family Ingredients’ Facebook Page
Distribution: This Food/Travel series was first aired on PBS Hawaii, Hawaiian Airlines, and was shown in CAAMFest 2014. This summer, the show will air as a primetime series on PBS nationally after earning a regional Emmy in Hawaii with a 6 episode series in 2014-2015. Producers are still searching for additional distribution.
Host – Chef Ed Kenney, owner of TOWN in Honolulu, Hawaii
Director of Photography – Renea Veneri Stewart
About the Director – Ty Sanga
Sanga is a Native Hawaiian up and coming director and filmmaker. He has gained experience and recognition for his short films in particular. His most recent short film, Stones, won best short at the Maui Film Festival, was screened at New York’s NMAI’s Pacifika Showcase, at the Native Cinema Showcase in Santa Fe, and honored by the Sundance Film Festival in 2011.
Producers – Heather H. Guigni, Renea Veneri Stewart, Dan Nakasone
Produced by Juniroa Productions
Scene Analysis: Race and Ethnicity
Right away, it’s apparent that race plays an important role in this show. Hawaii is a multicultural state, and the results of the multiracial and multi-ethnic experience are apparent in the host’s and guest stars’ lives and in the food itself.
In general, the episodes portray the perspective of the multiracial Chef Kenney, who is local, relatable, and authentic.
In one scene from the episode, ““Pipikaula and Carne Seca,” Chef Kenney, and Hawaiian musician and artist, Kuana Torres Kahele, end up in Sonoma, California, after tracing the origins of Pipikaula or Carne Seca, the Hawaiian and Spanish words for “dried beef”, back to the mainland. Upon visiting a ranch where Mexican cowboys and European settlers and ranchers worked and lived (early and mid 1800s), they discover an old record of Hawaiian people staying in the same complex. This is important because it demonstrates how early cultures and ethnicities were exchanging ideas, food, culture, and more, and not just limited to Hawaii. It was explained that the Mexican cowboys who taught the Hawaiians how to herd cattle also passed on the tradition of making and eating carne seca or dried beef.
I thought this piece of history was especially interesting because hardly anyone thinks about how cattle got to the islands or that there could’ve been such a deeply rooted Mexican influence on a part of Hawaiian food and culture. Each culture may have altered the adopted the dried beef/Carne Seca/Pipikaula. slightly to fit their needs, but they share common roots. This scene told a different story and perspective by opening the audiences eyes to a small but significant part of Hawaiian history that is not completely European-centered.
A scene featuring the process of making and packing poi at a community center also touched on class. Poi is essentially made by pounding boiled taro roots and mixing the pounded taro with water until it is the desired thickness. Although the traditional process of making poi by hand can be tedious and laborious, this is a food item that is a staple in all kinds of families and households, rich or poor.
While the poi-making scene at the community center was shot for an outsider audience to be able to understand, the content of these shots was the insider’s perspective.
The average tourist wouldn’t normally be able to observe this scene. The people making poi were dressed modestly and worked carefully and diligently. For Chef Kenney, mass producing poi at the community center, outdoors, under a tent, was a new experience. And lastly, it was mentioned that the people receiving the poi were in need of support. At least three distinct classes and generations were brought together by a common need, food.
Although the experience of a local who is making poi as part of their weekly ritual, compared to Chef Kenney’s experience of making poi outside under a tent for a change, versus a foreign audience’s experience of the process for the first time, are all extremely different, the cinematography captured each step beautifully, thus weaving each experience together and giving everyone another reason to appreciate and admire the art in this simple and routine, yet crucial, process.
My CAAMFest 2016 Experience
At CAAMFest 2016, I saw two episodes of “Family Ingredients,” at the Roxy Theater in San Francisco. The first episode followed Chef Kenney as he traced his childhood favorite food, poi, to it’s origins and explored different ways that people have come to prepare and consume it. The second episode featured Chef Kenney and guest star, Hawaiian musician and artist, Kuana Torres Kahele, as they explored the origins of “Pipikaula and Carne Seca,” the Hawaiian and Spanish terms for dried beef. This exploration led the duo to travel from Hawaii to San Francisco and also to delve into the origins of cattle herding in Hawaii.
Overall, I had a great experience. The theater was small and the viewing was well organized and presented. We even got to hear a few word from the directors and Chef Kenney himself! I would highly recommend the series and CAAM fest to others. Also, Roxy theater makes some of the best popcorn! Bonus!
My Response In Art:
Watch the Family Ingredients Trailer here!
Click here for the Family Ingredients Facebook Page
Click here to visit the Family Ingredients website
Click here to read SFGate’s article on Family Ingredients in CAAMFest 2016