An interview with celebrity Chef Bruce Brennan, author of the Hippy Gourmet Cookbook and Guide to the Universe, and star of the Hippy Gourmet TV show. I sat down with Bruce and the director and producer of the Hippy Gourmet, James Ehrlich to find out what’s cooking.
First of all, what is the Hippy Gourmet?
James: The Hippy Gourmet Cookbook and Guide to the Universe is a cookbook for inner hippies everywhere, and it’s now grown into a whole series, as well as a weekly television show set in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, which is the heart of Hippy lifestyle and culture here in San Francisco
Bruce: I first visited the Haight during the Summer of Love, and since that first visit I was trying to find a way to come back. After working the high profile restaurant circuit in New York, and a few years catering to the stars, I finally found my heart back in San Francisco. My sister Pam Brennan (The Hippy Gourmet TV show’s co-producer and editor) and I bought and restored an old Victorian right at the intersection of Haight and Ashbury, which is Hippy ground zero, and opened a bed and breakfast.
We jammed it full of memorabilia like unpublished photos of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead, and we planted a large organic kitchen garden out back to flavor our fare. Feeding our neighbors delicious, nutritious. The organic goodness that grew out of that kitchen was the inspiration for the Hippy Gourmet cookbook, as well as the TV show.
James: Three years ago we started taping the Hippy Gourmet TV Show to create a mellow and Zen-like cooking series that captures all the fun and fashion of a multi-cultural and generational phenomenon like the Haight-Ashbury, and Bruce’s kitchen. Since then the Hippy Gourmet has expanded it’s filming to exotic and indigenous locations around the world, discovering and exploring all that is natural, organic and beautiful and exploring worthy not for profits that are doing good work to preserve the earth.
So the Hippy Gourmet is about a lot more than cooking?
James. Oh absolutely. We’re about more than food, but about hippy ideals like protecting the environment, sustainable agriculture, social welfare and environmental activism. We’re trying to create a new tone; one that’s about relaxing and seeing what good can be done in the world.
Bruce: Our focus is peace, love and recipes that bring people together. We want to help people see that there are organizations they can join, learn from or volunteer for.
James: Showing the path to a better civilization — this is the Hippy Gourmet way.
Can you tell us a little more about the Hippy Gourmet Cookbook? Why is it a guide to the universe, as well as a cookbook?
James: Well, The Hippy Gourmet Cookbook and Guide to the Universe will include a multiple set of instructional cookbooks with recipes from the TV show but Bruce has also included some of his best kitchen confessions.
Bruce: The book combines good solid cooking instruction, with philosophical and humorous anecdotes based on our experiences with food and friends here in the Haight, and around the world.
Are people in the 21st century still open to the values and cuisine of the Summer of Love?
Bruce: People are really responding to our message. I know we're onto something really big here, because our website is buzzing all the time with people who have read the book or seen the show, and are writing to request recipes, and learn more about the Hippy Gourmet way.
Bruce: And The Hippy Gourmet just signed Peter Harrison McGuigan from the firm of Sanford J Greenburger Associates, a world recognized literary agency representing best selling authors and titles, as the exclusive literary agent for the Hippy Gourmet Cookbook and Guide to the Universe series.
The Hippy Gourmet cottage industry sounds like it’s really taking off. You two must spend a lot of time together.
James: Almost everyday, and sometimes round the clock.
Bruce: But we’re good old friends, and our skills are different, but well matched. And we have a no-pressure communication style.