Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pecha Kucha

They were sitting at the bar, talking with great excitement and passion. I asked them if they had just come from a concert. They answered, "Pecha Kucha". Then they explained.

Pecha Kucha is a gathering of creative people where creative people talk about some aspect of their craft or life that they feel might be interesting. The subject matter and format can be quite divers, but the event is governed by a strict structure. The participants show twenty slides and each slide is shown for only 20 seconds. Each presentation lasts only 400 seconds (6mins 40 secs). Pecha Kucha was invented in Japan as a way to get notoriously long winded architects to tighten up their presentations. It is now an international event, being hosted regularly in over 300 cities. Winnipeg does one four times each year. The statistic is that any night of the year, there is one happening somewhere.

So these guys sitting at the bar said, "Chef, you should do one!" I said sure, that sounds like fun. And thought nothing more of it. Until I received an email inviting me to present at the next Pecha Kucha. And so, last thursday night, I found myself standing on stage at the Park Theatre presenting 20 slides for 20 seconds each.

I talked about my creative process, how I cook, where I draw inspiration from. I was trying to get across the notion that cooking is partly about preserving an old tradition and partly about furthering that tradition with new ideas. I tried to focus on the sense that most of cooking is not about crazy creative explorations and fanciful presentations, but i is about the basics. It's chopping onions and peeling carrots. While I presented my slides, I cooked. I made a batch of Tequila mussels in my 6 minutes and 40 seconds. I felt it important that my slide show had a sense of smell component added to it. At the ends some of the guests enjoyed my mussels.

I was the last of twelve presenters. The presentations ran the gamut from a piece on architecture to solve humanitarian crises around the world, to a artist showing pictures from his sketch book. One guy presented a story about how he developed a popular iphone app. (Makes me want to develop my own, but I don't know what it would do.) Shawna Dempsey did a presentation on her art, it was almost a retrospective, with slides of her different work. Another gentleman presented about his relationship with a great aunt who he only got to know late in her life. One gentleman presented on a trip to new york and his visit to the world trade center the day before 9/11. He talked about how fate intervened and saved him from being in the towers the next day. One woman, presented photos that she wove into a short story. Some of the presentations had audience participation. One had you touch and hold onto a complete stranger, the other had you look deep into the eyes of your neighbour and say "you're fucked, and that's okay".

It was a great night. It was inspiring, informative and entertaining. I was honoured to be invited to present. I look forward to the next one, I will attend just to see the presentations. But I am already planning my next slide show. 20 recipes in 20 seconds each.

Thanks to the organizers of pecha kucha for inviting me and putting on the event. Thanks to Kiki May for taking photos and putting together the slides. Thanks to Eric at the Park for hosting the event. Thanks to Ruben for covering my shift on line so I could attend. And as always, thanks to Danielle, my lovely wife for her love and continuous support in all my crazy projects.

(I tried uploading the slide show, but it seemed to confuse blogger. I'll try again, later.
So I tried again, and then again. Does anyone know how to attach a video?)

but you can check out some pictures on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/adrianjkshum/5191816719/in/photostream/


  1. Greetings Alex

    Great Blog! Clare and I are coming together to eat/treat ourselves to the warmth of 7 1/4 in December! One must always have something great to look forward to.

    I have a live link to you at my Blog: http://valerietonnerhealthcoach.blogspot.com/
    a comprehensive guide to a healthy lifestyle: the best information about health made easy and fun with a few curve balls thrown in for excitement; you'd be hard-pressed to find an Health Coach anywhere else who refers to herself as a luxury vintage yacht and quotes Hunter S. Thompson and Frank Zappa...

    Best Regards, Valerie/ AKA Luxury Yacht

  2. Greetings Chef Alex and Bistro Gal

    I loved your current Mise en Place Flavours article about the fundamentals of cooking. It was my favorite and I relish all of your articles in the Flavours column. I will look forward to sharing my upcoming adventures traveling through Europe, taking Mediterranean cooking classes (France, Italy, Spain and Morocco) while journeying closer to my dream of a Hammam/Spa Apprenticeship in Morocco at Riad El Fenn and assisting in the creation of a Hammam/Spa at Peacock Pavilions (live link at: http://valerietonnerhealthcoach.blogspot.com :MY MARRAKESH) IN MARRAKESH. Agaraphobic exits comfort and enters courage zone. I WILL BE DOCUMENTING MY TRIP ON MY BLOG.

    Will visit 7 1/4 soon to talk details. Would like to buy a pair of those cute jeans you were wearing at your 5-year anniversary party (need referral) they would travel and represent well.

    Love you as always, Valerie Tonner