I dig your designs for Hail the Right Brain. How long have you been doing it and are you a lefty?
I’ve been making wallets since high school. It all started when my sister Kelly wanted to buy a ticket to a concert and made wallets to sell to her friends. Duct tape just happened to be the easiest medium she could get her hands on and was a cheap medium to experiment with — if you mess up, throw it out and start over. With garbage scraps and a roll of tape from the dollar store, she fashioned her first wallet and sold it to a friend. Shortly after that, it became more of a collaborative effort. We put our heads together to think of new ways to improve the prototype.
Over the years, we must have made hundreds of wallets; every wallet was an improvement on the last. The first wallet must have taken Kelly a few hours to make, now it takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. We’ve got it down to a science, using the least amount of tape possible to make each wallet. We utilize each tape scrap in the most effective way to reduce wastage and make the most out of each roll. We’ve also explored new ways to polish and perfect the design — we developed an ID holder, a change purse with a Velcro closure and even invested in an embosser to press our company name onto each design.
Apart from the practicality of making wallets, it’s a creative outlet. I keep a shoebox full of magazine scraps that I’ve collected over the years, spread it out on a table, then piece together designs until it looks right. I’ve also screen-printed onto a few of them, which came out pretty cool. I may have been a little too ambitious when I attempted to print a woodblock design and rolled a wallet through the printmaking press. That technique was less successful and resulted in a few wallet-casualties.
Oh, and Kelly and I are both righties.
Why did you start World to Table?
World to Table is just a way to document and share some cool food experiences that I’ve had. I like trying new cuisines and new foods. More specifically, I like learning about and sharing the stories and culture behind the food. I’m no chef or culinary authority, but I enjoy eating and cooking. I hope that by sharing these experiences, more people will be compelled to step out of their comfort zones, try something new, venture into new culinary territory, and expand their minds.
Your feature on whether cooking is nature vs. nurture was fascinating. What is a super taster?
I noticed that the majority of food bloggers or foodies, whatever you want to call them, tend to be Asian females. I thought it was a bizarre phenomenon and pieced together a few of my observations to formulate a pseudo-hypothesis. Contrary to the Asian stereotype, I’m very right brained and am not so great at math or science, so this whole nature vs. nurture debate could just be a crazy idea I thought up. A super taster is someone who has more taste buds than a normal person, so they taste things more intensely.
Where was your best meal with friends this summer?
I hate picking favorites, so I can’t say I have one favorite, but I’ve had some pretty great meals in Queens when I went to recruit restaurants for a food event I helped to produce on Labor Day. Ploy Thai in Elmhurst has some unique dishes, like a wrap made from betel leaves and this crazy bright pink seafood soup that smells like feet, but tastes delicious.
What inspires you?
People who are passionate, innovative and go against the grain. Playing safe is easy and boring, it takes real guts to do something different and unexpected. For instance, I met this small Asian woman who is a computer programmer at IBM who is also a prolific fly fisher, which got her involved with a non-profit that preserves the Croton Watershed. She loves it, and goes fly fishing with 60 year old men on the weekends. Now, that’s pretty cool.