Meet The Stellar Person Behind the Food. Curated Stories: Liza De Guia
Meet Liza de Guia, the amazing person behind the camera at Food. Curated (photo from FoodCurated.com)
Last week, at a panel at the Food Tech Conference, my colleague Ben Schmerler mentioned a wonderful food video maker. When he said her name, many faces around the table lit up, including mine. There was a general consensus that, yes, Liza de Guia of Food. Curated is an incredibly talented story teller and an inspiring member of the food community.
As it happens, I had the great pleasure of having a long chat with Liza recently. I wanted to know about the person behind the stories. Liza has always been involved in media and film making, including three years at Plum TV. Around 2008, before food television skyrocketed, Liza realized that her dream was to tell the stories about the passion and dreams of people and their food. She pitched a series of short-form documentaries about food and the people who make it.
“I got rejection after rejection,” she said, “which makes your heart hurt.”
Then it dawned on her: Why should she ask permission to follow her dream? And so she decided to do it on her own. And she has been prolific.
Chef Ross Hutchinson making Bacon Marmalade on Food. Curated
In 2009, Liza launched Food. Curated, an online video series that offers a glimpse behind the scenes with amazing people who make food. She has made over 150 videos. I know from my minimal experience how much time and effort it takes to make even the shortest of videos. And I know that Liza takes all the time she needs to capture the story and then edit down hours of footage into 5-10 minute videos for us to enjoy.
The first Food. Curated video I ever saw was about Bacon Marmalade (oh, how I miss you, Bacon Marmalade). I first heard Liza herself give a presentation at the TECHMunch conference a couple of years ago. She was as engaging in person as the videos she makes. One thing that she said tickled me and stuck with me to this day for its honesty and practicality. It was something along these lines: “If you’re working on something and you think it’s crappy, it probably is crappy. No matter how much time you spent spent on it, you need to scrap it and start over again.”
Monks Meats – Vegetarian Butchers on Food. Curated
Liza makes all her videos by herself. She starts with scouting out stories and making arrangements to do the shoot. She films on location with one of her three Panasonic cameras, and then she edits and produces the final version. She spent 12 hours filming the segment with Monk’s Meats, which became a full and fascinating 9:30 video about this vegan butcher (yes). “I can take the time and let the story come out,” Liza said. “It all comes to life as I edit. The natural flow emerges.”
You will rarely see her in front of a camera, but you will hear her ask questions and sometimes converse with her interviewee from off-camera. She does the forbidden by breaking down that “4th wall.” It adds a fun and surprising dimension to the stories.
So how does she choose her subjects? There’s really only one criteria: Taste!
If something tastes good, it has to have a good story behind it, right? “I don’t screen beforehand. Everyone I’ve met with has been beautiful and lovely,” she says. “I like genuine, real people. I don’t care if they swear. I love it when they mess up on camera. It makes them accessible.”
Dough Donuts by Fany Gerson and La Newyorkina on Food. Curated
The stories on Food. Curated are 100% Liza’s taste. She explores neighborhoods and is always open to recommendations for places to eat and foods to try. She loves the small shops in Jackson Heights and the Turkish places in Coney Island. There’s a Mexican bodega in Sunset Park that was recommended by Fany Gerson (aka La NewYorkina). Liza’s favorite donuts are from Dough, also kudos to Fany who creates the flavors. (I totally agree about Dough, although I also love the traditional Donut Pub equally.)
I appreciate the fact that Liza doesn’t go after the latest foodie trends or media hype. She tells rich, inspiring stories about people doing their own marvelous thing in their kitchens, food trucks, farms and even beaches. I love her interviews with Vendy Award nominees. We might pass these food makers in the street or walk by their truck or storefront and never know their amazing stories — if not for Liza and Food. Curated. That’s important work.
Cookie Fairy Sweets on Food. Curated
Liza has received numerous accolades, including four nominations for Best Video Webcast from the James Beard Foundation. Definitely watch her recent TEDXBrooklyn talk. She had a major dream come true just last week, when she announced the launch of her partnership with our hometown newspaper, the New York Times! She will be providing weekly videos every Monday for the NYT Dining Out Section.
And Liza has a new big dream: Life. Curated. One day she wants to work with “an army of storytellers,” all telling tales of all the beauty in the world. I’m certain she will make this dream come true too. Count me in, Liza.
~Karen Seiger, Markets of New York City
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