Casey Kelbaugh started Slideluck in 2000 from his backyard in Seattle. It was a potluck dinner with artists showing slideshows of their work. Sixteen years later this concept is still the same however the events now take place in hundreds of locations around world and can attract upwards of 1000 people. Slideluck even won a Guinness World Record for the Largest Potluck Dinner ever at a Slideluck in DUMBO, Brooklyn in which 479 dishes were served.
The Slideluck office operated solely from Casey’s East Village apt for the first 8 years and now is divided between this location and at Sandbox studios in Brooklyn. We came by the East Village apartment just in time for lunch.
I typically do a big shopping run on Monday. I have a couple of meals loosely planned out but I’m the kind of cook who likes to take stock of what’s available and make a plan on the spot. I like restrictions, parameters and working around what’s in season and what’s open. But more often than not, it’s about spontaneity.
We have always had staff and interns from all over the world – Italy, Japan, Israel, Dominican Republic, India, etc. - which is reflected in the food that’s made. Everyone pitches in to help. Today for dessert Dasha made apple bottom cakes with vanilla ice cream, an old recipe from her family in Ukraine. Staff also tend to stay with us for a long time, I see the lunches as being key reason for this. It’s also policy that anyone from the Slideluck family that is passing through town will join us for lunch. And if there is a visitor who wants to start a Slideluck in their community, we invite them to come by for a midday meal.
Theres a point in the day when your productivity starts to peter out so you have to step away, have human contact, nourish yourself with real food and then reengage with renewed vigor. It’s essentially an opportunity to break the monotony of answering emails, doing production, etc. We sit around the table and actually look at each other, rather than hunching over our computers. During lunchtime discussions we rarely speak about work - we talk about what else is going on in each others lives, get to know each other better, have a little cultural exchange and fun.
Staff meals been the glue for us, no questions asked. We have been through every challenge a non-profit could make but at the end of the day while our friends are toiling away in their corporate offices they can see us on Instagram living large and eating fantastic meals on a Monday at 2.30.
My father has a friend in Seattle, Peter Miller who runs an architectual bookstore. He published a book, Lunch at the Shop. They had been closing the bookstore during lunch and making a meal together. I devoured his book after getting it for Christmas and wrote him a long letter as I was inspired by much of it and how we overlapped. I will see him in a couple of weeks and am looking forward to comparing notes.
One of my few regrets in the food world is I never made it to El Bulli, I’m fascinated by the cult and mystique around what they were doing. I had the opportunity to photograph and hear him speak about the book, The Family Meal. They are just such simple, straightforward recipes. Similar to what we do for, Slideluck Lunchshow, the ingredients could often be counted on one hand. It’s always about respecting whats in season, using good ingredients, prepared well and with love.
I also produced a small cookbook for my friends 12 years ago ‘Penne for my Peeps,’ of some of my favorite pasta dishes, I’d love to redo it this year, this time with photos and new recipes.
We have a tradition of reading books friends have published during dessert. We go in a circle and read a couple of pages each for around 15mins. Over a couple of months we will go through a whole book. We then invite the authors themselves to come eat and read a passage. Today we were reading Sloane Crosley, and David S Abraham who is also director of Sideluck in Ubud, Bali.
Pinches: Baguette with goat cheese, roasted red peppers, anchovies
Baguette with Hudson Valley ricotta, honey, fresh black pepper
Pasta: Linguini tossed in reduced beet cooking water, Regalis truffle oil, wild arugula, Pecorino Romano
Salads: Kale salad with roasted kombucha squash, toasted hazelnut, red onions and dried cranberries
Carrot salad with sesame oil, lemon zest, toasted almonds, parsley, black sesame seeds
Served with beverages from our partners: Brooklyn Brewery Sorachi Ale and Sourervain Cabernet Sauvignon
Casey, Jenn, Dasha, Cameron, Winston
Learn more about Slideluck here!