Stefano Citi and Claudia Castaldi founded Tourdefork back in 2009, wanting to meet new people through food. Thanks to an inventive style and some good use of social media, their secret dinners became an instant cult.
Their guerrilla venture soon turned into a proper food design laboratory, where edible communication comes first. FDL cached up with them in occasion of their latest knife-inspired performance, to discuss about food and sociability.
Your latest collaboration with Spotti was all about knives. What did you do for the occasion?
Stefano: Studio Pepe has recently restyled Spotti’s showroom in Milan, with knives being the main theme for a whole month and we where asked to do a series a food performances around this subject. The first event that we did a few weeks ago was about the primordial use of knives. We did an edible sugar glass and then we used a series of primitive cutting instruments to before serving it to the guests. Then last week we examined the sign language of cutting. Knifes are fascinating: they involve great expertise and elegant gestures. We had to do a cutting course ourselves in order to be ready for the show!
From branded events to guerrilla projects, there’s so much communication passing through food nowadays. Why?
Stefano: It’s a sociopolitical trend: we’re going back to those things that represent us in a pure manner. Food is a basic, it’s essential for our survival. Bad economy apart, young people are choosing to leave the cities and rediscover the land for ethical reasons. It has to do with the realization that industrialized food is bad for us and for the planet. What comes after is an extension of this concept: people trying to understand what they eat, why it’s good or bad, what it symbolizes. Food is more popular than other fields, because at the moment people are more attracted by experiencing rather than possessing.
And how did you end up founding Tourdefork?
Claudia: We began by arranging secret dinners, which where actually more of a social experiment rather than taste-focused. At the time we knew nothing about this world but we soon discovered several people like us.
Stefano: Then Claudia, who is a photographer, started taking pictures of our events and posting them on our blog, a factor that definitely helped us spread our popularity. The number of the people asking to attend our dinners was unbelievable.
So it was about getting people together...
Claudia: Exactly, and there’s been an evolution in the way we do that. At the beginning we would just put together 15 people, dine and chat. But after a while we started experimenting, transforming our dinners into happenings. In the last two years we have grown a lot, and our focus slowly went from being an event-focused reality to being more conscious about food itself. And this is how the performance, the sensorial experience, became our DNA.
What kind of people do usually attend your events?
Claudia: It really depends on the subject, but people are always curious about the most experimental aspects of our work. For example once we did a workshop using recycled items. An old lady arrived with three huge bags of wine taps. Apparently she’s been conserving them for a long time… She was so excited to participate and she was definitely not in the target that we had in our mind!
Do you observe what other groups like you do? Which ones do you most admire?
Claudia: They are many. We love Public Pie, a project by two girls from Holland who travel across Europe with a trailer, cooking street-cakes; I also took the pictures for their book. Then Marije Vogelzang from Eat Love is a great reference point.
Stefano: We spend much time researching online so we come across many interesting things. Pintrest, online tools in general are such a great resource for us: if Internet didn’t exist we wouldn’t be here either. Social networking really helped the growth of social fooding. In our case, it also helped many other works come up, like transforming a hobby into a business!