Architects sharing Ray Liotta anecdotes while preparing pomodoro sauce. Awkwardly waiting for Jamaican takeout with mum in the adjoining strip club. Eating Laotian food in a tattoo parlour while being asked if you chose your dog, or if your dog chose you.
These are just a couple of the scenes you’ll find in the interviews and photographs of Dijon Magazine, our new favourite Winnipeg website.
Dijon is the work of Katy Slimmon and Ali Vandale, two local creatives who take great photos and ask the best interview questions (e.g. What’s your favourite type of decorative gargoyle? How’s that pink beer? Brandy or Monica? How has having the last name Butterworth impacted your life?).
They ask these notable questions to fun Winnipeggers, like filmmaker Bendrix Williams, dj/dancer/teacher Maribeth Tabanera and MLA Uzoma Asagwara, making for a read so informative and saucy that you know it was well stirred.
We needed to know more, so we put some Qs out to Ali and Katy to see why Dijon is such a tasty site and to learn what they have coming up next.
Why did you start
Katy: We wanted to create a photography project that held a theme and food is a connection we all share. The idea was to interview a few friends and just have some fun with it. . .go to someone’s house, watch them cook, go for a meal and have a chit chat. We didn’t really know where it was going, but through being ourselves, we found our tone and a format we liked. Now fast forward a year later, we’re in production with a series of short films for Bell Fibe and just launched our ‘Granny Recipe Project’ with artist Jazz Danis! We’re exploring different mediums and how we can tell stories of food, memory, culture in different ways while staying true to OG Dijon.
Ali: I love reading print interviews about my favourite artists, musicians, actors etc. These interviews are mostly about their craft and the industry that they’re in, which is great, but sometimes I’m left wanting a little more info—a deeper dive. How embarrassing were your outfits in high school? What kind of food did you eat as a kid? What was your first album ever? As trivial as these questions might seem, they can tell so much about a person and/or shift the conversation to a really interesting place. We get to connect with people over stories of crying at Warehouse One buying jeans with your mom, Sailor Moon and shameful eating days.
What effect do you think the use of film photography has on your stories?
Ali: It wasn’t a conscious decision, I’ve always preferred the look and have only ever used film cameras. However, I do think that the nostalgic grainy look of film photography really matches the vibe of our interviews.
Katy: I’ve always loved Ali’s photography. Sending film to get developed (and sometimes not knowing how it’s going to turn out) adds another layer of process to the project, no pun intended. Developing film is expensive though, so we’re open to finding an angel investor.
How do you decide who you are going to profile/interview? Have people started to approach you to do an interview?
Katy: Everyone needs to start somewhere, so we did that through our own connections with friends and friends of friends. As we gained some momentum, we started being more bold (like Dijon) and reached out to people we want to learn a bit more about.
By expanding out of our so-called ‘comfort zone,’ came some pretty special interviews. We were so incredibly lucky to interview MLA for Union Station Uzoma Asagwara at Famena’s Famous Roti & Curry; they are someone we really admire.
We’ve definitely had people reach out and say, "You should interview ___!” We love that so get at us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You write about food through the lens of ordinary people, not necessarily through chefs or FOH. Why do you think it's important to talk about food this way?
Katy: Well, everyone is a chef in their own home. We want to capture the candidness of a dinner party, whether that be in someone’s home or at a restaurant, so less of a PR sort of project and more a snapshot of people’s lives.
It’s an intimate thing, to invite someone to your home and make a meal or go for a bite to eat, but I think naturally people feel comfortable talking about food. We also touch on music, culture, art, childhood—aspects of everyday life. Not to be a corn dog, but everyone has a story…so food is a gateway of sorts?
We also try to do that Nardwuar thing where we research the hell out of people and catch them by surprise.
Ali: Yeah, food as an icebreaker has led to such great conversations; everyone has stories, memories and opinions on food.
What are some places/dishes that come to mind when you think of classic or quintessential Winnipeg?
We’re Brandon gals, so we’ll answer this in a two-parter.
Winnipeg: Rae & Jerry’s, Daly Burger, Bernstein’s Deli, BMC Tacos, East India Company, the Nook, the Don, also the history of Fatboys interests us in a deep way.
Brandon: Chili Chutneys, Lady of the Lake, Sabor Latino, Tana Ethiopian Cuisine, Komfort Kitchen, Mum’s, Kim’s Asian Restaurant, Pizza Express and greasy fries at the Brandon Winter Fair.
What’s coming up next?
Katy: Dijon TV is a series of films we are producing with Bell Fibe with support from the National Film Board of Canada. In the films, we dive deep with five unique subjects, similar to our existing tone (snappy and fun) and will be a feast for the eyes! Due to COVID, we’ve paused production but are eager to pick back up and hopefully release by summer 2021. The series will be available to stream through Bell Fibe as well as on Dijon’s Instagram (@dijonmag).
Ali: We’ve also put a call out to collect Granny Recipes and have commissioned the amazing artist, Jazz Danis (lafaamdulaak.com) to create an original illustration for each recipe. We’ve been releasing the recipes accompanied by Jazz’s drawings weekly on our Instagram (@dijonmag) and they will eventually have a permanent home on our website. It’s been such a sweet project reading stories of grandmothers and learning about them through their cooking. The project is supported by the Canada Periodical Fund.
Will you ever do a kid-centric article titled ketchup?
Yes. Can we steal that idea, please?
Favourite brand of Dijon?
Katy: Smack Dab Curry Dijon
Ali: A classic Maille for me, although I’m not above a French’s squeeze bottle Dijon.
*please note: there may be swear words on the Dijon website and we take no responsibility for those.