When chefs yell "Order, fire!" from the pass, they're telling their crew to cook a full ticket immediately; no appetizers or timed courses. For Chef Marc Jacksina of Earl's Grocery, the phrase conveys a sense of "no lull in the flow, like shop talk." Thus he chose it to christen his ongoing film series, a documentary of intimate sit-downs with notable names in the North Carolina food and drink scene. Jacksina originally conceived Order/Fire as a written column, but it wasn't until some prodding from photographer friend Peter Taylor that things started percolating. Taylor suggested filming Jacksina's tête-à-têtes, and the rest is history. Their sixth episode (and the finale of season one) features Paul Verica of Heritage Food & Drink, and hits the screen this Sunday at Free Range Brewery.
Creative Loafing: How do you choose your subjects?
Marc Jacksina: Choosing our guests is easy, there's so much dang talent in and around the food and beverage scene of Charlotte. Honestly, we could do a nightly show (hint hint, money-having people), and have enough guests for a solid run.
It's really whittling it down to an interesting and representative brush stroke that's the difficult part. I have some very close friends in this industry that I haven't even had the "you are on our radar" talk with, but I can say that because of this show, I've made some great new friends in and outside of the city. Ultimately we try our hardest to represent the diversity of talent this industry embraces.
What do you think is so appealing about chef shop talk (as opposed to say, dental hygienist shop talk)?
I think the fact that it's chefs talking shop is inconsequential — look at the popularity of shows that have crab fishermen, truck drivers, duck call manufacturers. But Charlotte is really blossoming as a food city, people are much more sophisticated as diners than they were, say, five years ago, and chef-driven shops are hot. We knew that chefs, industry people and industry insiders would get it, and obviously we hoped that the general public would get it, because, in my thinking, they were really our intended audience. I wanted them to see what I love about my peers and their passions, heartbreaks, and motivators in this business and, subsequently, life. It's definitely an amazing time to be a chef and a consumer in Charlotte, but at the end of the day, Order/Fire is really about the human element of telling a story, having a beer, shooting the shit...it's a little salacious, and a really good peek behind the curtain. Plus, the beer at Free Range is a definite crowd draw.
What did you want to accomplish with this series?
I think I can speak for Peter and Darius [Evans, co-videographer], but documenting the coming of age of a food and beverage scene, with such a deep sense of community and dedication to local agriculture was all we could really hope to accomplish. Being part of that narrative, as a show, is a happy by-product. Personally, as a story-teller/collector, getting to share it with a broader audience, who appreciates it, is a gift. When we first started out on this journey, it was only going to be a Charlotte-centric show. Season two will feature more traveling.