Trini chickpeas web versionWhen I began WKIO, I wanted to give weight loss discussion two qualities I felt were lacking — depth and creativity. Philsophically, how does such a physical change alter your view of yourself, food, art and spirit? And practically, how can my guests be freer by teaching some introductory flavor pairing principles? Losing 200 pounds taught me magic is under our noses every day. It’s my job to draw that magic out. – WKIO Founder Russ Lane

In July, Russ spoke as part of the “Spirituality and the Arts” series at Marble Collegiate Church. A summer-long series exploring how art both influences and is influenced by spirit, Russ paired with Marble minister, Rev. Kirsty Depree to address food, glorious food.

From the concepts of breaking bread to communion, and a brief history of how cooking became an art form, Russ melded the art and the spirit together by offering examples from his hero, Gray Kunz, and sharing his story of how developing his creativity and spiritual life in cooking enabled him to balance losing 200 pounds while food writing.

As typical, food was both practical skill and life metaphor for deeper truths. That doesn’t mean the practical skill wasn’t delicious: he demonstrated: Balsamic Glazed Jamaican Chicken with Vanilla-Cumin Strawberry Salsa, discussing how learning flavor pairing is an often-overlooked first step in understanding home cooking.

Reaction editedAll the while, guests snacked on Trinidadian chickpeas with black bean chips and crudites, and received sample of the following: Jamaican Curried Chicken with Vanilla-Cumin Strawberry Salsa and a Blueberry-Fig Mostarda (a twist on a WKIO classic, Sour Cherry Mostarda, a personal favorite of one of Russ’ first cooking teachers, Kevin DeMarco).

Brunch followed repurposing leftovers from the samples, in addition to a Roasted Asparagus and Mint Pesto (another WKIO classic), classic Carrot-Raisin Salad and cubed Watermelon with Mint and Balsamic Reduction.


A full video of the presentation is below: