From the Editor: Pass me the cashew brittle
I feel the same way about theater as I do food—while I prefer excellence, I’m OK if it’s mediocre as long as it nourishes me in some way. The worst part of that surprising April snowstorm for me was that dance at the Northrup and Corduroy at the Children’s Theater were both canceled on a weekend when every sport was playing on TV.
It was during a Jungle Theater board meeting that I was reminded the star of its upcoming play, "Lady Day," was also a food purveyor. I had wanted to meet Thomasina Petrus ever since she was on stage at the Charlies, but I had forgotten I had a legit reason to interview her. Before she set foot in her favorite neighborhood coffee shop, Fireroast Café, I heard her calling. She was ordering a sandwich over the phone and when she mentioned she was meeting someone there, the owner pointed to me and I nodded. She breezed in a few minutes later and after we settled into a booth and started talking, I was mesmerized. Thomasina was telling me she’s sometimes recognized in Target and how her sons, will whisper, “Mom, that woman’s staring at you.” Often, it’s because she played the mother of a young black man who was killed over a pair of basketball shoes in "The Gospel of Lovingkindess." “There’s something about that play,” she tells me. “I have black sons” and every night on stage when she opened the door to see the killer has returned the shoes, she had to act out her own worst fears, a son’s death.
Right after her story, two older women rounded our booth and announced, “We know you.” Ironically, they didn’t know her from all the performances she had played Billie Holiday or from her "Hot Chocolate Christmas" show or from all the various singing gigs she’s had around town. One woman was her teacher in elementary school, the other knew her from high school.
Maybe that’s why she’s never been drawn to the bright lights of either coast. “I can be poor here,” she says, with a laugh. “I don’t want to be poor in L.A. or New York where nobody knows me.”
I’ve already seen Thomasina play a mother whose son doesn’t die in Latte Da’s "Five Points." Ironically, when she was cast for the part, the play was still being written and rewritten. The authors decided it didn’t make sense to kill the son off, which meant losing her beautiful, soul-wrenching solo. She just shrugs her shoulders in a what-can-you-do motion.
I can’t wait to see her in "Lady Day at Emersons Bar and Grill" at the Jungle in June. I will miss the Chihuahua the real Billie Holiday had on stage, but I bet Thomasina belts it out of the ballpark.
Artwork from the Artists in the Kitchen show at the Textile Center by Beth Barron and Nettie Colon.
All the world's a stage
Knowing how much I love theater and drama, it probably makes sense why I'm adamant that the Charlie Awards require a real life theater's stage. So the good news is that we've booked the Pantages Theater and Seven Steakhouse for the 2019 Charlies. The new date is January 27, so start thinking about who's worthy of the coveted Charlie. We'll be announcing categories soon, and look for our kick-off in the fall.
Food is art, too
The Textile Center in Minneapolis is home to 50 works by women artists inspired by 50 women chefs and restaurateurs through May 19. It's a fun exhibit and anyone in the foodservice community will have fun recognizing some of the chefs involved, such as Michelle Gayer of Salty Tart, Lynne Rossetto Kasper of The Splendid Table fame, Brenda Langton of Spoonriver, Ann Kim of Young Joni, Kim Bartmann of Pat's Tap, et al, and Diane Yang of Spoon and Stable.
I particularly liked the artwork (pictured above) by Nettie Colon of Red Hen Gastrolab and artist Beth Baron. The two collaborated on an apron adorned with found bandages. The exhibit was part of the Women Chefs & Restaurateurs annual conference in April. Check it out.