New York's food scene is a rough place for restaurants, chefs, waiters, and let's face it, customers. Consider all the permutations: obnoxious waiters and dumb customers, dumb customers and obnoxious waiters, new restaurants, know-it-alls, critics, yelpers, it's ripe for parody, something some of the city's well-regarded food blogs like Eater and Grub Street regularly take advantage of in their daily posts.
One of these sites' alums, Leila Cohan-Miccio, a former editor for Grub Street Boston, has taken skewering the New York food scene one step further, writing a one-woman play called, Pig: A Restaurant. The half-hour show debuted last night at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Chelsea, N.Y. and there will be performances on November 3rd and 17th (check the Upright Citizens Brigade site for reservations). The play's writer took a few moments to talk about her play, its characters, actor, and its inspiration in this interview.
Wednesday is opening night for your show, Pig: A Restaurant, at the Upright Citizen's Brigade. Tell us about the show. It's a satire of the New York food scene from all angles, right?
Yup, it's a look at New York City's restaurant culture vis a vis the opening party for Pig: A Restaurant, a pork-obsessed restaurant in East Gowanus.
What's the play's arc? Is there a story that people can go into the play expecting to follow, or is it a series of vignettes?
It's more of a series of vignettes, but together, they tell the story of an evening.
It's a one-actor performance but there are seven characters personifying the food scene, right? Food critics, yelpers, rival chefs, waiters — who are some of the characters we can expect?
I don't want to give it all away, but we have a Top Chef cheftestant at the restaurant's helm, a model/actress/hostess, two-faced publicists, urban farmers, and more!
Where did the inspiration come from?
Lauren Conlin Adams, who plays all the parts, and I both have food industry backgrounds. Lauren has worked front-of-house everywhere from DB Bistro Moderne to Balthazar and Morandi, and I spent three and a half years as the editor of Grub Street Boston. We're both on sketch teams at the Upright Citizen's Brigade and after we met, we realized it was a natural fit to combine our backgrounds in food and comedy.
Any well-known culinary figures inspire these characters?
Oh yeah, but I don't want to name any names! I think if you see the show, it's pretty clear.
Talk about the play's actor. You didn't want to play these figures?
Lauren Conlin Adams is brilliant and plays all the characters better than I ever could. You might have seen her with Onassis, an Upright Citizen's Brigade sketch team that recently won the nationwide Friars' Club Sketch Competition and debuted a pilot at the Friars' Club Film Festival. We had a blast collaborating together and with our director, the amazing Caitlin Bitzegaio, who, besides being the hilarious writer behind Upright Citizen's Brigade shows How Rude: Tim and D'Arcy Find the '90s, and Waiting for Obama: A Night in the Hall of Presidents, has directed some of Upright Citizen's Brigade's most successful shows. The three of us had so much fun working together, we had to schedule extra-long rehearsals so we had time to gossip.
Who is your favorite character?
I have a particular fondness for model/actress/hostess Aurora, who is just a total idiot.
As an editor for Grub Street, you have a background in New York's food scene. Is there a character with an in-box teeming with emails from PR flaks and food bloggers looking for traffic?
There is actually not a blogger character in here, though at one point, there was a writer for a Thrillist/UrbanDaddy type newsletter. If there were a blogger character, she would probably be deeply irritable all the time.
Your most and least favorite things about being in online food media?
I loved the excitement of talking with chefs and restaurateurs who were doing exciting things — people in Boston like Jamie Bissonnette and Will Gilson. Eventually, though, the repetition drove me nuts. I repeatedly threatened to quit if ONE MORE PLACE opened serving upscale comfort food, and I joked that I wanted to call our events roundup, "Another Day, Another F#%$ing Wine Dinner."
What do you think about the scramble to get first looks?
It's so dumb, but I think it's a fact of life these days. The scramble is definitely detrimental and wrong-headed, but unless you're going to keep your place a secret, it's bound to happen.
Anything we can take away about the interrelationships between food media outlets: Grub Street vs. Eater vs. Serious Eats vs. The Feast, etc?
Not from this show!
How would you write up your play if you were writing it up for Grub Street right now?
Oh, god. Another day, another f#%$ing wine dinner.