A Conversation With Laura Luciano

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Laura Luciano

A graphic designer with her own firm, Laura Luciano is a board member of Slow Food East End who has been Slow Food Governor for New York State since 2017. She writes a blog, “Out East Foody,” and a column for Edible East End, and will give a talk titled “Eat Global … Cook Local: Nourishing Community and Understanding Through Slow Food” at the 4th Annual Food Lab Conference at Stony Brook Southampton September 14 and September 15. She lives with her husband, architect Chris Jeffrey, in the Red Creek area of Hampton Bays.

How did you become so interested in food, especially locally sourced food?

I’m from an Italian family. Growing up, we cooked together all the time and to this day we still cook. My family and I, we always have these gourmet meals. We could be making a pork roast, lobster, spaghetti, heirloom tomatoes, all local; we come together and we cook together. It’s always a celebration at the table. Even though we have political differences in our family, it’s a moment we can come together and be at peace and be respectful to each other and enjoy a meal.

How did you discover Slow Food East End?

In doing my food blog, I was covering the North Fork Foody tour and that’s when I literally stumbled across Slow Food East End. I was like wow, this makes total sense to me: good, clean, and fair food, food that’s healthy for us … They focus on knowing the farmer, they focus on local, and it’s a place where I can come to the table and my husband and I can meet people from all of this community, from all walks of life, that have one thing definitely in common, which is food and the understanding of this region.

What is Slow Food East End all about?

The principles, the values of Slow Food are “good, clean and fair.” It’s knowing where your food source comes from. I always say food should have an identity … that means the history of that one food from that one place. It starts with the farmer, it starts with the story of why they’re planting it; it starts with the health of that seed, the terroir. It tells such a story that it’s mindboggling. It’s a story about the very place you live in and the health of your community. We have about 250 members and right now is our September membership drive. I encourage a lot of people to join now. Our annual meeting is on September 30 and we have a raffle going on. Our Snail of Approval restaurants and farmers are going to give $150 gift certificate.

Who are your Snail of Approval farmer and restaurants?

Green Thumb and Sang Lee Farms are our farmers right now and we’re interviewing others. The restaurants are Estia’s [Little Kitchen], Almond, Bell & Anchor, Art of Eating catering, Love Lane Kitchen, Nick & Toni’s, The North Fork Table and Inn and 18 Bay.

What’s your job as the state’s Slow Food governor?

I oversee all the chapters in New York State. So, any time there’s an act in Albany we need to act on, I get the information and pass it on to our chapters. We need to send a letter to the governor and our representatives. So you know what? It makes a lot of sense for New York State to have a chapter. Wouldn’t it be great to develop a chapter right in the middle but does not only food policy but all of the food policy themes we focus on? For example, we do food policy, indigenous people, the youth network, chefs’ alliance, slow meat, slow fish, biodiversity. There’s a chair for each of these themes and then there’s a steering committee so there are 17 board members and I’m working on creating the board right now.

Can you preview your talk at the Food Lab?

It’s really about slowing down. The faster we go we’re missing all of these details. If we could bring diversity to our table, indigenous folks, the Latinos … If we don’t take the time to really know what’s going on, we aren’t functioning as we should be.

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Peter Boody is news editor of The Sag Harbor Express. Previously he was the editor of the Southampton Press for many years and also edited several other papers, including the Shelter Island Reporter and the East Hampton Press, of which he was founding editor. He was a regular correspondent for the New York Times Long Island section and wrote the novel “Thomas Jefferson, Rachel & Me.”