Taste the Culture | Ep.4 – Pop-Up Empowerment

In this episode of Taste the Culture, host Justin Sutherland celebrates some lesser known cuisines and a fixture of the Atlanta food scene: pop-up restaurants.

One of our missions when we set out to make Taste the Culture was to find unique and untold stories. Now, that’s not to say the amazing folks at Talat Market and Kamayan were unknown to Atlantans, but with food and stories as amazing as theirs, we knew they deserved a wider audience. 

For several years, the two restaurants were pop-ups: concepts that moved into other restaurants’ brick & mortar kitchens on a temporary basis. They were immensely successful and paved the way for many others to attempt the same thing. Many in the food industry consider pop-ups to make good financial sense; they can turn profits on their food without having to worry about the hard costs associated with owning a building! But even so, both Talat and Kamayan decided to pivot into their own brick & mortar locations. Knowing that, we saw an opportunity to explore these transitional moments in the careers of all the chefs. 

Finding a Home

This episode gets deep into the reasons why both Parnass Savang & Rod Lassiter (Talat Market) and Mia Orino & Carlo Gan (Kamayan) decided to change things up. As the son of Thai immigrants, Parnass wanted a chance to showcase his family’s culture in a space that complimented it. He wanted a place that helped people understand where his food comes from; it’s both deeply personal and speaks to his heritage.

Mia Orino & Carlo Gan’s journey started as a mission to bring Filipino food to Atlanta, and boy, did they deliver. But for Mia, it wasn’t just about sharing the food she grew up with, it was a way for her to stay close to her mother, who taught her everything she knew. When Mia’s mother became ill with Alzheimer’s, the recipes were a lifeline for Mia. 

These stories provided an emotional heart to our episode that made it a genuine tearjerker, but it was the action that provided the backbone.

One More Time (Kind Of)

Ok, so it turned out it wasn’t really Kamayan’s last pop-up, but with the opening of their restaurant on Buford Highway in the works, it was a spiritual sendoff. Our crack producer team, as well as Showrunner Jordan Nowlin, worked closely with both pairs of chefs to put together a singularly spectacular collaboration. This dinner would pull from both Thai and Filipino cultures, with the two teams putting out courses that represented the cuisines that matter to them.

To make a long story short: it was a night to remember. Our camera team had almost too much amazing food to shoot. Running event coverage is right in our wheelhouse, and with dueling Blackmagic Pocket Cinemas in hand, Camera Ops Alessandro Graci, Sebastian Chamaca, and Haley Fusia set a rotation so no one would get burned out over the course of the 3-hour marathon of meat and fish.

In the edit, lead editor Cameron Shaw put their efforts to good use with the show’s most epic montage (so far) set to an energetic voiceover from Justin. This episode also featured some exemplary color work from Alessandro Graci (those drink shots at the end are some of our favorites) and stellar mixing from Sound Supervisor Matt Harriott, making those big moments really hit hard.

It was, in all ways, a fitting way to close out our first run of Taste the Culture. It was a whirlwind goodbye to the old and a welcome to the future for our guest stars, and in some ways the same for us! We had an incredible time making these episodes, but we never stop looking forward to the next great project, and more episodes to come!

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