Demystifying Food with Todd Graham October 30, 2015 09:41

Todd Graham is a fermentation enthusiast who organizes a once a month pop-up dinner project called HandTaste Ferments, serving by-donation locally sourced meals consisting of mostly fermented foods. He also spends his Tuesdays hanging out at Homesteader's Emporium as a front of house staff (lucky us!). Here's what he's got to say about his passion for food, fermentation, and sharing with his communities in Vancouver, BC.

Todd Graham - HandTaste Ferments

Hey Todd, thanks for taking  some time to share a bit about what you do. Did you want to take a sec to briefly introduce yourself and what exactly it is you do? 

Hi, my name is Todd, i run a small fermenting focused project called Handtaste ferments. We do a variety of projects including pop up suppers once a month, teach workshops, do markets and sell fermented foods. I also work at Forage restaurant running a fermentation  project for them. We are also starting to do fermented focused brunches out of a restaurant on kingsway.
What do you enjoy most about feeding people your fermented foods?

I love that idea of people getting excited about food and the history of it.   The connections that food can have with learning about other regions and cultures in the world was a major reason i started to read and learn more about the history of fermentation. All cultures in the world have some history of using it as cooking style or for preservation.
What was the first thing that sparked you interested in fermentation? 

My background for years was working in a small craft brewery so i focused mainly on liquid ferments. A friend gave me a copy of Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz for a bday gift. I loved the book and [Sandor's] view on food politics. I was also having some health issues at the time and thought having more fermented foods in my diet may help.

Within 6 months i noticed a massive difference in my health.   Slowly my focus moved to mainly food and away from beer making and a few years ago i quit brewing. The big shift happened when i went to Sandor Katz' house for 5 weeks and studied fermentation with him. 
Preparing Mushrooms

Do you think fermentation as a practice has affected the way you exist in the world, or impacted your every day perspectives?

 I think on many levels i have been affected by focusing on doing these projects. I have met many amazing people and connected in ways that would not have happened if we didn't have food to connect on. I get a great joy from watching people eat at table and try foods they have never had or were unaware of the process in making it.

I really want to play a small role at least in helping to show people that they can make food themselves and they can move away from a food system that, at times, uses food as a weapon.  

A lot of us just beginning to learn about fermentation by experimenting and making mistakes. Do you have a funny fermentation experiences you can share with us, you know, to help boost our confidence?

I have for sure had my fair share of mistakes. Have come home a few times to a kitchen full of exploded bottles of kombocha, or a dog covered in a crock of kimchi.........

HandTaste Ferments Courses
Photo cred: S.J.T (Regram)

Anything else?

Thanks for your time, the last thing i always tell people about food is that no one way is right. To make something, try a bunch of different ways and see what works for you.

Don't be afraid of food. Someone in the world is making something you like and with a little work you can make it too......lets demystify food..........
by Kelsey Cham Corbett
October 30th, 2016