Julia: You use food to create the kinds of opportunities and projects that you want to do. Can you tell me about some of the spin-off projects you have done from Put A Egg On It?
Sarah: I use food as way to encourage people to come together to talk — to find connections, and to hear about how peoples’ lives are similar and different to mine. If I Knew You Were Coming, I’d Have Baked a Cake, the project I did in Japan, started with a pancake breakfast in Omotesando. Megumi, from ROCKET (a gallery in Tokyo that does a lot of food and art collaborations), and I met to talk about ways we could work together. A conversation about what to have on hand in the kitchen in case of an expected guest led us to an idea where I would install myself in their gallery kitchen and people would come in and trade stories of meals they’d made for a meal from me.
Another example: I want to get out more and meet other artists and see what they’re up to so I started a column on our blog called, “Kitchen Visits,” where people just have me over to their studio or apartment and we talk about what they’re working on while they make snacks for us. A plus side of this is that I get snacks and also a nice chance to photograph people in their spaces.
Julia: Tell me how you started the zine and where you see it going. Is it important that it always remain a zine, even as the project grows?
Sarah: Ralph McGinnis, my partner in PAEOI and R&S, and I started Put A Egg On It because we are magazine and zine-obsessed nerds. At the time, we’d been working as an editor/art director team for other magazines and writing a blog about zines and small press called “Print Fetish.” Egg started modestly and has grown nicely over the last six years.
We are at a point now where we are doing more collaborations and events but are protective of the print project. I expect we’ll keep it more or less the same but make more diverse content for the website, and throw more dinners and art shows.
Julia: Where did the name for the zine come from? Do you really eat a lot of eggs?
Sarah: It’s just something we used to say to each other when we had leftovers from a meal out. You know, like, “Hey don’t throw that away, I’ll take it home and put a egg on it.”
Julia: You brought your intern, Pan, to come and make a salad with us. This seems like the best damned internship on the face of the earth. Can you tell me about some of the assignments you give? Did you ever intern when you were younger?
Sarah: Yes! Pan is great. Our internships are pretty fun and they end up getting shaped quite a bit by the intern herself. With interns who are artists, we have them do illustrations for us or photograph events. The current set are writers, so I’ve let them write a lot for the website and a couple short pieces so far for the print magazine. I figure we can’t pay people yet, so instead we give them a lot of freedom and creativity. And we also invite them to parties.
Julia: Ok, your assignment for your rooftop salad was to show me the virtues of epazote, that mexican herb that I grew in abundance on the roof, but, to me, smells like toilet bowl cleaner. How did you become familiar with epazote, and do you genuinely like it, or are you just always up for a challenge?
Sarah: I adore it AND I’m always up for a challenge. When I was 20 I lived in LA for a year and dated a girl who lived with her Oaxacan grandparents. Her grandmother taught me many wonderful things including how to make empanadas with squash blossoms and epazote leaves. My first memories of the smell of epazote though are from my mom adding the dried herb to cooking beans. I know it can be hard to get used to but I really like it.
Julia: Your girlfriend, Jen Wanous, is a private chef. What percentage of your time spent together do you spend talking about food? Have you ever dated anyone who didn’t love to cook and eat? (my first boyfriend was a straight-edge vegan who only ate canned black olives and freezer pops).
Sarah: We spend quite a bit of time talking about food. I help her come up with ideas for menus and it is not unusual for me to be walking by the kitchen and hear, “Hey do you have time to make a sauce for this dish?” However, there are also times where we have cereal for dinner and talk about nothing even remotely food-related. I’ve dated people who were less into food and cooking but they were all at least excited about entertaining. With them I did all the cooking, and with Jen we work together or switch off.
Julia: You travel a lot, where are you going to next?
Sarah: SF! Back to my hometown for a schedule of non-stop photo shoots for a book I’m making with my mother. We’re also attending my sister’s best friend’s baby shower. And New Orleans in November for the next installment of, “If I Knew You Were Coming, I’d Have Baked a Cake,” the show we did in Tokyo.
Julia: Tell me about your plans to produce and sell hot sauce. Why hot sauce?
Sarah: Ralph wants to make labels for things and I want to make jars of food, so we are constantly thinking of ways to combine these two dreams. We have a more complicated food item in the works but it’s taking awhile to perfect. (I’ll tell you off the record because it’s top secret!) SO, in the meantime, I make hot sauces every week for Jen’s clients and they are amazing, so I’m going to start there.