This spring, filmmaker, author, and activist LAURIE DAVID premiered her new film, Fed Up, and launched her latest cookbook, The Family Cooks. She shares with publisher Alexandra Fairweather her solutions to the current childhood obesity epidemic.
“Katie Couric emailed and asked me to join her and director Stephanie Soechtig in executive producing what we all hoped would be the An Inconvenient Truth of food. Needless to say, it took me three seconds to reply “yes!’” exclaims Laurie David. “It was a natural fit because since the release of my book The Family Dinner in 2010, I had been working on food issues. In examining where we eat, why we eat, and what we eat, it’s undeniable that food has the power to make us healthy or make us sick. In Fed Up we demonstrate why what we are eating is making us so sick.”
Laurie and I first met at a Larry Gagosian’s Art Basel party at Mr. Chow’s in Miami about two and half years ago. My mother, Prudence Fairweather, fashion designer Vera Wang, and I were all talking about how gorgeous Vera’s outft was when Laurie David walked over and introduced herself. As a documentary filmmaker who had just finished a documentary on my late-stepfather, John Chamberlain, I was glowing with excitement to meet the renowned filmmaker and author, who I had admired for so many years. We talked about Laurie’s home in Martha’s Vineyard, Art Basel, her new documentary that she was already working on with Katie Couric, and how I had never been to Los Angeles (and I was dying to go).
About a year later, I was flying to LA to see Larry’s Richard Avedon show at Gagosian’s LA Gallery and attend a few business meetings. It turned out Laurie was also planning on attending the Avedon show, so Laurie, her amazing friend, Nina Montée Karp, my mother, and I all met for a drink before the exhibition in the lounge of the L’Ermitage. We had a great conversation about the importance of organics, taking care of ourselves, and why LA living was spectacular. As we headed for the door, Laurie, like a wise sage, said to me: “It is important in life to not just be concerned with business, you must always consider the impact on society.” I’ve held those words dear ever since. Following the incredible Avedon exhibition, we headed to Mr. Chow’s for a fantastic dinner. The next day, I had to go back to NYC and I was so sad to go. Goodbye, LA!
Fortunately, a little bit of California—Laurie—came to New York in April for the premiere of Fed Up and the release of her new cookbook, The Family Cooks. Anna Carter & Anna Chapman hosted a lunch in Laurie’s honor at the Monkey Bar (Katie Couric, Eleanor Acquavella, and Nathalie Kaplan to name a few were in attendance). Laurie was so excited as she spoke to everyone in the room; she explained how difficult it is for families to eat healthy, how society has brainwashed us to think that we cannot cook, and how her cookbook is a solution. “If I can do it, anyone can,” she joked at the lunch, referring to her ability to cook the healthy recipes in The Family Cooks. “After the release of The Family Dinner, my co-author, Kirstin Uhrenholdt, really wanted to do a book to teach children how to cook because it is a skill that will empower them throughout their lives. But the more we spoke with our friends about it, the more many of the adults we know said they wanted the book for themselves! So The Family Cooks is a book for novice chefs of all ages with simple recipes that have five steps or fewer with real, whole foods,” reflected Laurie.
She was absolutely right. That night, I took home The Family Cooks, went to Whole Foods, and cooked four recipes from the cookbook (chicken adobo, tortilla chips, vegetarian tacos, and guacamole). I am not exaggerating when I say every recipe I tried that night (and multiple nights since then) was amazing! (The kale salad is incredible!) Laurie’s favorite recipe is popcorn caulifower: “You simply can’t make enough of it. It may not even make it to your table!” she enthuses. And I do not consider myself a gourmet chef. These are easy, angst-free recipes.
When I asked Laurie what she found most surprising when working on Fed Up, she explained, “I thought I knew a lot about food when I started working on this movie. We all did! I would eat low-fat yogurt or a high-fiber cereal for breakfast—but the more I learned about what is in those “natural” products, well let’s just say I had to work through a lot of guilt over what I fed my kids and my family all of those years.” She continued to explain, “But here’s what is really shocking: The conventional wisdom about diet and exercise isn’t true, not all calories are equal and 80 percent of items in the supermarket have added sugar.” The news Laurie David has to share isn’t always what you most want to hear—but it has inspired me to think differently about the choices I make every day.