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Yossi Zoltan Klein: the culinary raconteur behind Bread, Wine & Thou  

If you’ve visited Khoollect before, you might have come to the conclusion that our team has a not-so-secret fondness for food — whether we’re eating it, cooking it, styling it, photographing it, or reading about it. So when we came across the beautiful, food-filled pages of Melbourne-based publication Bread, Wine & Thou we sensed a long-term love affair on the horizon.

Through eloquent storytelling and gallery-worthy imagery, Editor-in-Chief and Founder Yossi Zoltan Klein and his team put the pleasures of eating and drinking into words on a quarterly basis. Beyond its recipes, artworks and photography, Bread, Wine & Thou explores the human connection to the experiences associated with consuming food and drink, which is something we all have in common. Here, Yossi shares how his publication came to be:

A day in the life

Why did you decide to begin Bread, Wine & Thou?

Our food and drink culture is such a rich source of stories, connections, histories, ethnicity, identity, politics and ideas – all of them are an opportunity for mutual understanding, learning about each other and exploring who we are. Bread, Wine & Thou provides a medium to explore all of this; where beautiful writing, photography, illustration and art can intersect. People told me I was crazy for launching into print in this current publishing climate, but I just love it. Through Bread, Wine & Thou, I wanted to create a tactile invitation to slow down, engage and luxuriate in a special reading experience.

We thoroughly enjoyed your first issue. What’s the reception been like?

The response has been exceptional. As an independent print publication, we are small and  resources are finite. But our subscribers have been very kind, and hugely encouraging. The feedback from some of our bookstores and stockists has been very positive and the response from the public, from the literary community, and from some of our food, wine, and writing heroes has been truly amazing.

Bread Wine & Thou

Tell us about the philosophy behind Bread, Wine & Thou and how it differs from other food and wine publications …

My aim with Bread, Wine & Thou is to explore our cultural landscape. For as long back as I can remember, I’ve always been transfixed by the notion of storytelling and conversation. We’ve been telling stories since we could scratch on cave walls; it’s fundamental to our civic society, our sense of place, and our exploration. And then there’s food: as culture, celebration, mourning, obsession, learning and connection – the way we learn, share, reach out, borrow, give and understand each other. These things are common to us all, and something all of us engage in at some level. What I wanted to create is a platform for engaging with these ideas – in long-form, in print, and with beautiful photography, illustration and design.

Tell us about some of the talent you have on the Bread, Wine & Thou team?

We have a very large collection of talented international photographers, writers, editors and artists on board. A very small collection of them include the following …

Marco Pierre White’s support and involvement is pinch-myself material. He has been a hero of mine for the past twenty years. Working in restaurants and kitchens, we would peer at his wonderful book White Heat and salivate, and dream, and think ‘wow’. Featuring Massimo Bottura as our inaugural chef has been such a thrill. His enthusiasm in telling the story of his native Modena, through his food at Osteria Francescana is incredible and underscores what Bread, Wine & Thou is all about.

Our Contributing Photo Editor, Rocco Ancora is an official ambassador for Nikon Australia. His work has been celebrated both locally and internationally with a swag of major awards and he was named one of the Top Ten Photographers in the world by iconic photography magazine American PhotoJeff Martin is the artist responsible for ‘Back of House’, a project which saw him travelling to some of the world’s best restaurants to sketch and photograph their service and then transform what he saw into a wonderful collection of paintings.

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What’s your favourite feature from Bread, Wine & Thou so far?

This is like nominating your favourite child. I love what James Broadway did with his essay on wine, ‘I Fall in Love too Easily’. I spent 18 months looking for someone to write for me on wine by way of telling a story, and James just nailed it. Tasting notes and reviews have never prompted me to buy a wine, but James’ story of wine fantasist Josko Gravner’s revolutionary influence on the world of Italian wines makes you want to drink from Gravner’s cup. As the editor, there’s a bit of me in every piece, and you can’t cop to a favourite. As my father is fond of saying, ‘ love all my children equally.’

Best Kept Secrets

I khoollect a few …

Cocktail Shakers. I began collecting them in my early twenties, when I leafing through a book on martinis, I spotted a picture of the very special (and rare) penguin shaker with a hinged beak pourer, manufactured in the US in 1940s by the Napier Company. I began to scour thrift and antique stores, and read everything I could get my hands on. Eventually I gathered a collection numbering about forty, all figural, many deco, and some very interesting examples. My prize possession is one of those penguins.

Most amazing thing you’ve ever eaten or happiest food memory?

I was born in the Carpathian mountains, in a town at the border of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Russia. It changed hands many times over the years, but after the war, the Russians annexed it, and so my parents grew up under the Soviets, and when I was born it was the USSR. Under that system, with food supplies and availability heavily controlled by the authorities, and constant shortages, many day-to-day items were black market commodities. I remember my father coming back from a trip to Moscow with a large suitcase. When he swung it open, it was bursting with so many oranges. I was very young, but I remember eating them, day by day, segment by segment, they were so exotic in the region where we lived.

Who’s your #khoollectcrush and why?

Barack Obama. I remember tears streaming down my face as I watched Obama’s election win and his stirring, brilliantly orated inauguration address. Here was America’s first black president, just forty-five years after Martin Luther King marched on  Washington, when so many had wondered if they would ever even see basic rights accorded to them.

Urban Favourites

Where do you call home?

Home is Melbourne, my office is in Gertrude Street Enoteca, and my playground is Fitzroy and Collingwood on Melbourne’s Northside.

What do you love most about it?

The amazing ethnic and cultural mix is something we need to be more appreciative of here in Melbourne. For a host of historical and economic reasons, we managed to nail that melting pot. Just one example: a restaurant I worked in years ago, we had a Frenchman, an Austrian, two Italians, two Croatians, an Iraqi, an Egyptian, two Greeks, a Lebanese, an Irishman, and a half-Aboriginal half-Indian. That’s at the one time. We have a great array of cuisines and wonderful eateries to choose from, our bar culture is thriving and quirky, our coffee is recognised the world over, and we are an hour or two away from some great wine country.

Best place for coffee?

Are you kidding? This is Melbourne! My favourites are: Batch Espresso (my local, great coffee); League of Honest Coffee (great coffee, great staff); Patricia Coffee Brewers (a class act); Arno Espresso (very new and lovely little spot); Auction Rooms (a North Melbourne must-visit, for the space, the coffee and the people watching).

Best spot for dinner?

Di Stasio Bar, an institution that brings together simple, real food, great drinks, fantastic service and an atmosphere like no other. Owner Rinaldo Di Satsio is a force of nature and formidable presence on the cultural scene and a prominent arts patron. Their cultural imprimatur and Italianality sums up everything that he and this place are about.

Tipo 00 – Melbourne’s darling pasta bar, (an admission, the chef-owner is a personal friend, we once ran a food and wine consulting and events business together – that’s how good it is). Trattoria Emilia – distilling the essence of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna, the food here is earthy, homely, real, and the service the embodiment of hospitality. Neighbourhood Wine – set in an old gambling den that harks back to Melbourne’s gangster wars, the wine list here is a revelation, and the food is sheer comfort with a restaurant touch. I could list so many more.

Bread Wine & Thou

How do you spend a lazy Sunday?

Lie in and perhaps read one of the pile of books that never seems to shrink on my bedside table. Ponder getting up but dawdle for ages. Grab a coffee at Batch, and scour the weekend papers. Decide to grab breakfast at Cumulus Inc., lots more coffee. Then, perhaps a movie at one of our last independant cinemas, the Nova, or a double feature at the brilliant art-deco, Astor, depending on what is showing. Then perhaps a drink at Bar Di Stasio, which will inevitably end up in snacks.

If you could live anywhere else, where would it be?

Easy: NYC without a doubt. I’ve been going there since my mid-teens for the cultural energy, the art, music and film scenes.

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WRITTEN BY:
Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney. READ MORE BY Sonya Gellert

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Find out more

You can follow Bread, Wine & Thou on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and take a glimpse at its stories online. You can also check out Yossi’s foodie guide to Sydney.

Images

From the photo essay ‘Honeycomb Home’ by Gary Gross.