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August 19, 2014

At Home with Diana Kennedy

Inside the Chili-Filled Kitchen Garden of Mexican Food's Grand Dame

“In 1976 I decided to create a centre for my learning and cooking,” says Diana Kennedy, the 91-year-old doyenne of Mexican cuisine and culture. “I bought some land and gradually built my ecological house.” Quinta Diana in Mexico’s Michoacán state has been the longtime home of the legendary food writer and culinary anthropologist—and following a private lunch and post-prandial stroll through her garden—is explored in today’s film by James Casey, founder of New York-based Swallow Magazine. Kennedy’s publishing career began in 1972 with the epicurean classic, The Cuisines of Mexico, most recently winning a James Beard Award for her 2010 journey into the heart of her adopted country’s eating, Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy. Nestled in the verdant hills above the small town of Zitácuaro, the fertile grounds of Kennedy’s home support an embarrassment of riches. Vast selections of meticulously sourced chilies are flanked by numerous edible plants, herbs and fruits, celebrating Mexico’s extreme biodiversity in miniature. “There’s a lot I want to do,” she says. “When I make this place a foundation it will keep my ideas of conservation and sustainability alive.” Plans are afoot to turn the property into the Diana Kennedy Center, a non-profit space housing Kennedy’s vast archives of literature, writing and collecting, a fitting tribute to a life’s work both edible and otherwise.

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Bay Leaves

Californian Chef Leif Hedendal Forages a Micro-Seasonal Meal

San Francisco-based chef Leif Hedendal creates an exclusive meal for NOWNESS with ingredients foraged locally in the Bay Area, from Laird’s Landing in Point Reyes and Slide Ranch in West Marin. In the resulting photo series by Jake Stangel, the delicate petals and leaves of pennyroyal, lemon balm and bachelor buttons feature alongside the more robust flavors of lardo, abalone and oysters. Hedendal has always operated across both food and art worlds, exploring those points where the two converge. This August he is taking up residency on artist-run Rabbit Island, in Lake Superior, and in September he will be feeding those artists aboard Doug Aitken’s cross-country train project, Station to Station. The chef has staged in the kitchens of Noma and Chez Panisse, and in 2008 created Dinner Discussion, a bi-coastal dinner series where invitees have included designer Yves Behar, his partner, the art advisor, Sabrina Buell, and food-centric artist, Jennifer Rubell. "The next one will be hosted by Alice Waters, which is pretty special,” he says. "I want to put together a curatorial project where I commission new work by artists doing dinner-based work.” Shot at the J.B. Blunk House, with its majestic views of the Pt. Reyes seashore, our shoot looks at those flora that form the basis of Leif’s signature dishes. "These days it would definitely be wild flowers and medicinal herbs. You will be eating ingredients you have never heard of before.”

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In Bread With: Special Request Magazine

Celebrities Dish Out Their Sandwich-filling Secrets for the Newest Arts and Culture Magazine

Actor John C. Reilly opts for the classic New York bagel with salami and provolone cheese, while songstress Florence Welch prefers a hearty ham and mustard bap in this gloriously kitsch photo story from the inaugural issue of Special Request. An homage to the British snack famously created by the 18th-century Earl of Sandwich, who preferred to eat lunch on the go using his hands, the feature lays out the favorite fillings of model Daisy Lowe, Olympian Jessica Ennis and the GZA, spiritual leader of the Wu-Tang Clan—who leans towards a lean vegetarian option. Taking food culture as a starting point, Special Request aims to dissect modern human culture piece by piece. Creators Paul Sethi, brother Marc—who also photographed today’s exclusive, curated by Sandwich Editor Josh Jones and styled by Nicole Herft—and Tom Viney brought on a top-notch roster of contributors that includes novelist Geoff Dyer discussing American photographer Jacob Holdt, and cultural commentator Jonathan Meades examining the food fads of the 1950s. “We took inspiration from publications such as Wet, released during the 70s, which celebrated water with brash photography and stunning visuals, combined with good, intelligent writing,” explains Paul. “We enlisted the help of photographers who normally work in music and fashion to photograph food, bringing a whole new aesthetic to a journal like this—the whole thing is very pop, colorful and fantastic.”

Blek Le Rat

Pan bagnat from the city of Nice

  • boule
  • tuna in oil 
  • radish
  • tomato
  • pepper
  • onion
  • hard-boiled egg
  • anchovy

Daisy Lowe

A reuben from Mishkins

  • toasted rye
  • salt beef
  • melted Swiss cheese
  • sauerkraut 
  • mustard 
  • a big pickle on the side 
Florence Welch
  • wholegrain bread
  • ham
  • mustard
"Very specifically, it would have to be made by my dad... he’s got some kind of special touch. Then you steal half." 


  • rye bread
  • tomato
  • cucumber 
  • spinach
  • mayonnaise 
  • mustard

Jessica Ennis

  • ciabatta, spread with pesto
  • fresh roast chicken
  • rocket
  • Portobello mushrooms 
  • parmesan-infused mayonnaise 

John C. Reilly

  • open-faced toasted bagel
  • salami 
  • provolone  
"Grilled so the cheese melts." 

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