A Chef’s Chef: Kelsie Kerr

photo-1The East Bay—Berkeley in particular—is pretty famous for being the home of ingredient-driven, quality food.  So many great chefs, including many “graduates” of Chez Panisse, are making amazing food all through the East Bay.

Kelsie Kerr is one such chef, though if you ask around, you might be surprised that you are not more familiar with her as a “brand name.” Kerr led the kitchen for many years at Chez Panisse, then co-founded Cafe Rouge on Berkeley’s 4th Street—where she was named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in 1997.  She is also the co-author (with Alice Waters) of the bibles The Art of Simple Food and The Art of Simple Food II.

Recently she opened Standard Fare Kitchen & Pantry in Berkeley (near West Berkeley Bowl), a one-stop fine take-away dining.

“Kelsie is probably the most admired chef of any chef I know in the East Bay,” says Boot & Shoe restaurant’s baker and Park Day School parent Jenny Raven.  Jenny curated the Homesteader Stage this year, and when we were talking about Kelsie’s session she said: “Do people know how lucky they are that she is coming to the Faire??!

I’m not a chef but I’ve eaten Kelsie’s food many times.  Her food is sublime.  It might be a Standard Fare tuna sandwich—but it is a tuna sandwich so fine that your jaw drops in awe:  micro-sliced lemon on loose, light albacore with split green beans, aioli and arugula, on house-baked foccacia. Kelsie’s standards are high.

photo(2)Another example:  Kelsie collaborated with Berkeley potter Jered Nelson of Jared’s Pottery to design and create gorgeous ceramic terrines for the take-home vessel.  The end result?  Food that is not compromised by transport, is enlivened by re-heating, and is gorgeous to serve.  Another level of take-out entirely.

When I asked Kelsie how she identifies with the maker community, she said she gets pretty darn geeky about what she makes. “Like fresh shell beans: that there are 5 or 6 kinds, all different and exciting, they each taste certain ways, and are only available at certain times from only certain farmers.”  She’s passionate about what she makes, and her materials. Her favorite tool?  A good light, sharp 8” knife.

So clearly we are more than excited to have Kelsie teach minestrone on our Homesteader Stage this Sunday.  Minestrone may *sound* simple, even humdrum.  But that’s Kelsie’s special trick!  Don’t be fooled by it — make sure to be at the Homesteader Stage (just inside the 42nd Street gate) this Sunday at 1 PM!

Also — take a look at the complete lineup of workshops and demos on the Homesteader Stage—and get your tickets in advance to save $ and time at the gate.




Tapigami Returns to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire

10397747715_b53c1d94d2_k A room-filling surreal miniature landscape made from… masking tape? Words cannot possibly do justice to the installation of imagination that is Danny Scheible’s Tapigami. 11292090216_0fae84b9be_zCome experience it in person (Studio One 2nd floor!). And once you have caught your breath, try your hand at creating, and become part of the art.  Get your tickets now! Sunday is nearly upon us.

5 Reasons I Want My Kids to Be Makers

IMG_6435I always get giddy this time of year in anticipation of the East Bay Mini Maker Faire. It is an explosion of learning, creativity, inquiry, art, play, experimentation and FUN!

My interest is not only as a parent, but as an educator.  I work at the George Lucas Educational Foundation, and our mission is to help improve the learning process by sharing “what works” in education. Over the years I have seen a lot of solid and innovative practices that are transforming how our kids learn.  But the one that I am the most excited about is making.  Here are 5 reasons why.

  1. Making creates authentic experiences for learning.  Say my daughter decides she wants to build a go-kart. She has to use algebra and trigonometry to design the kart’s body, and physics to calculate the gear ratio for the drive-train. No algebra/trig or physics, no kart, right? So she not only has to learn, she has to apply the learning. And she’s motivated because she really wants to finish this go-kart.When it’s done, you can bet she is more likely to remember these principles than if she’d done it on a worksheet.  Plus, now she gets to ride around the neighborhood in a bitchin’ ride that she made herself!
  2. Making deepens social and emotional skills.  It teaches kids how to solve problems together — how to collaborate.  I talked to one educator whose 4th-graders did a unit on Transcontinental Railroad – they established an “East vs West” contest, with kids competing for the best train designs.  The teacher was struck how the kids were so much more interested in improving their designs so that the best one would win, rather than getting competitive and infighting against each other.
  3. Making is not just limited to science, tech, engineering or math (STEM).  Projects like the Transcontinental Railroad one above can bring humanities and social studies to life, too.
  4. Making teaches kids how to fail. That is not a typo. Learning how to fail — and pick yourself up, reflect, and make another attempt — is crucial skill for navigating our ever-shifting world. Making builds resilience via the process of prototyping – trying things out, testing, and redesigning which is SOO IMPORTANT so that kids don’t shut themselves down in the face of failure.I was visiting a maker camp over the summer that had this idea of  “marvelous mistakes.” It actually brought a tear to my eye to hear those kids talk so proudly about their mistakes, what they learned from them!
  5. Making is accessible to anyone. If you want to bring making to your kids, it’s pretty easy to get going. You don’t need a fancy lab or fancy tech though those are springing up around the country in the form of TechShops or Fab Labs.  The internet is chock full of resources, too, as well as online maker communities. All you really need is curiosity and the ability to let your child explore and try things out and fail a few times.

One thing we know for sure is that we have no idea of what the future will be like for our kids.  I have seen making change the lives of students in districts and schools and classrooms and after school and in summer camps around the country.  I have seen it turn lives around and build resilience, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, communication, problem-solving in kid from all social, economic, and geographical backgrounds.

So this is why I am so geeked about the East Bay Mini Maker Faire.  Hope you can make it!

Guest post by Betty Ray (follow me @EdutopiaBetty on Twitter)


Because a Screen Print Makes Everything Better!

10429761376_fa1a3880e1_oThe SWAP-O-RAMA-RAMA is a hive of activity at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire. It’s chock full of amazing, hands-on, textile-related hacking opportunities. You can swap clothes of course (bring some to donate!) and you can refashion and repurpose fabrics and clothing into new-fangled creations of any sort–costumes, clothes, jeans purses, banners, stuffies…you name it!
One of the perennial highlights of the Swap zone is the screen printing booth. This year, local printshop The Grease Diner is coming to assist you in adding screen-printed embellishments to your t-shirts, bags, scraps of fabrics, jackets, bags—whatever you think needs some style.
10537136_1530470997183955_6603473369336761841_oThe Grease Diner is the project of husband and wife duo Jon Jon Cassagnol and Laurie Shapiro.  The two began the space as a gallery for Laurie’s large scale textile paintings, and have expanded to include a one-of-a-kind gift shop and DIY screen printing studio. The Grease Diner a great resource for makers of all ages to screen print their own designs.  They also offer events and classes, and have cool gifts by local artists.
Check out this upcycled pocket book: acid washed with a custom screen print sewn on. Bring something to screen, or dig through our donations to see what you can find to use.

Countdown to the Faire!

Burning Man 2011The 5th Annual East Bay Mini Maker Faire is almost here!  What’s happening at the Faire this year?  More than ever!  If you missed your chance to try Cratestacking last year, it’s back.  You won’t believe Saurabh Narain’s Rubik’s cube solving robot, or the fun of caged drone combat at Game of Drones.  We are thrilled to welcome Five Ton Crane’s jaw-dropping art carThe Nautilus. Tons of hands-on making, as is our standard: screen printing at the Swap-O-Rama-RamaJapanese paper marbling, seed bombs, the Nerdy Derby, tape art with perennial favorite Tapigami, and lots more.  The latest in digital fabrication, with TechShop. OtherMill, TypeA machines, BAAM, and the FLEET digital design & fabrication lab—a repurposed MUNI bus!  Culinary and domestic arts workshops, like minestrone with renowned East Bay chef Kelsie Kerr, and pizza with Pizzaiolo’s David Surcamp.  Plus pedal-powered carnival rides, bands, food trucks, bioscience, electronics, art, craft and more more more!

There’ll be over 170 Makers/Presenters/Performers, so check them out here, and then check out the schedule of presentations throughout the day.

Enjoy exploring all the Faire has to offer this year, but don’t forget to come back to ebmakerfaire2014.eventbrite.com to buy your tickets before its too late!

See you Sunday!

Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!!! On 10/19 $500 Racecars from 24 Hours of LeMons coming to EBMMF

ModelTGTImagine taking an 87 year-old Model T truck frame, the front suspension from a malaise-era Pinto, and the engine from a 90’s Mustang and making a racecar. Now imagine winning…alot…and driving to the race legally on public roads. The 24 Hours of LeMons series is a Maker tour de force. Where mechanical chops (and sweat equity) are required to help teams come up with winners under the $500 budget cap. ferd Along with the Model T GT will be Spirit of Chump Car-winning Ferdinand the Bug whose adorable googley-eyed exterior hides a ferocious Subaru power plant and just to make things TRULY challenging…dual controls!  Come talk to these Maker-racers on Sunday October 19th and find out how you can turn your driveway eyesore into a track-day champion.

The Schedule is Live!

10429724084_716f9acdc2_o Our 2014 schedule of presentations, workshops, demos & music performances is up!  Drones to comics to Arduino to The Maker City to big brass to kombucha.
Check it OUT>

(And yes!  East Bay Brass Band will be back!)

Burning Amp brings DIY Audio to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire

Burning AMPBurning Amp is an annual celebration of audio systems made by their owners. But in 2014 they will only be appearing at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire. Projects can range from battery-powered headphone amps that fit in an Altoids tin to huge vacuum tube powered systems that cover a tabletop. Most electronics these days warn you that they contain “high voltages” but up until the 1960’s many major manufacturers offered consumers the chance to wire up kit versions of their best-selling components (often with 600 Volts or more under the hood!).


Here’s my father wiring up a Dynaco preamplifier (that still works 50 years later).  There is still a huge community of Makers on sites like DIYAudio creating beautiful, fantastic sounding speakers, amplifiers and even turntables and digital components.  Come get inspired to wire up a desktop amplifier…or something more elaborate like Nelson Pass’s car-sized Kleinhorn speakers.131450=4536-ScreenHunter_01 Aug. 27 08.54

CrateStacking is BAAAACKKK!

tripticWe know you’ve been holding your breath!  It’s true – the milkcrates, the giant crane, climber Liam McNamara and his high-stack friends will be returning to bring you the rare joy of cratestacking!

We debuted this awesome sport last year, and then what happened:  Make: magazine did this interview with Liam and the sport (thanks for the re-post, Make:!)

Photo: John Orbon/Park Day School

Photo: John Orbon/Park Day School

Liam McNamara is one of the foremost proponents and organizers of cratestacking, the crazy DIY sport that is exactly what it sounds like. He has organized events in warehouses and at the East Bay Maker Faire, rigging up ropes and climbing equipment so that competitors, who balance on towers of milk crates dozens of feet high before the whole thing crashes down like a giant game of Jenga. Make: caught up with McNamara to ask about how to participate and the clarity that comes atop a tower.

Make: This looks fun, and a little scary. What’s it like when you’re up there?
McNamara: It’s a really fun feeling, ‘cause it’s a simple activity, but you kind of reach this heightened state of focus where you can’t hear your friends yelling at you, and you can’t think about the ground, and you’re just not thinking about anything else. You’re so focused on the subtle movement of the tower, and trying to keep it from swaying, and trying to stay relaxed, despite the fact you know this whole tower could topple at any moment.

It’s really an exhilarating sensation when you’re up there. I’ve had some of the bravest rock climbers that I know, that have climbed giant walls in Yosemite, build a tower and tell me that’s the scariest thing they’ve climbed in years, just ‘cause it’s so unnerving. It’s not really a matter of if you’re going to fall, it’s a matter of when. Everybody falls, and it always comes so unexpectedly, just a little shift in the wind, or the tower bows in a funny way, and then all of the sudden it just explodes, crates are going everywhere, and you find yourself suddenly dangling from the end of a rope 20 feet in the air. It’s really thrilling.

Is there any set of rules, either formal or informal, about how you do it?
There aren’t really that many ways to do it. The one rule that we made — that I thought made it a lot more fun — was that in order for your stack to count, you need to stand on the top of it. It’s kind of a house rule, when we were stacking over at my warehouse. It kind of created this situation where you have to commit to your stack. Rarely have I seen anyone stand on a stack, and then be able to move down to a position where you can stack another crate, so at some point you just kind of decide, this is enough, I’m going to go for a stand.

It’s really a victorious moment to kind of let go with your hands and step up on top of your tower, and stand up. We get a lot of great pictures from stands. We had one guy do a handstand which was really amazing. Having that moment of victory, where you’re on top of your tower — and usually the tower topples shortly after that — it’s always an exciting moment. It’s hard to do, it adds a little bit extra challenge.


You mentioned that people have been doing this in Europe. Do you notice it spreading anywhere else? Are people following your lead?
I created cratestacking.com in hopes to find other people that were doing this, ‘cause it seems like a fun thing and I really wanted to find a community of people that were doing it. I really hoped that people would start competing on a global level for tallest stack, and they could send in a video or some pictures of them standing on a really tall stack. When my friends and I first did it, I think our top stack was 14 crates and we thought that was amazing. And then the next time we did it, several people stacked crate stacks in the 20s, and we were like, Wow, this is even taller than we thought we could do it. And now the tallest stacks are approaching 30. We had one stack of 29.

I’d really love to work up a bit of a following, so we could have people practice, and do a couple of practice stacks and get better at it. I think it is something that could have a lot more potential with a bit of practice and training. It’s really inspiring to see what people do on their first try, but we’ll never know what the limits are without a little bit of training and practice.

What goes into doing it?
It takes a ton of work. I come from a rock climbing background, so we use the same sort of standard safety equipment that you’d use as if you were climbing rocks. We set up a top rope, basically. I’ve done it in warehouses, off of rafters, and we’ve done it off of cranes, which work really well ‘cause you can put them anywhere.

The falling crates are the most dangerous thing, as long as you have a good belayer. But being the belayer is kind of a scary place to be, ‘cause you need to stand kind of under the tower. And there’s one other guy under there who’s the crate wrangler, who’s handing up milk crates to the climber. Both of those people can get hit with falling crates as the tower topples, so we’ve made that a hard-hat area, and keep all spectators clear. If you’re stacking 20 or 30 foot towers, then you need to keep all the spectators clear within a 20 or 30 foot radius.

Are there any techniques or strategy?
As you’re building a tower, the tricky part is you’ve got to kind of tuck your toes in to the handles of the milk crate. It’s especially hard for bigger people. Kids have small feet and they can usually fit their shoes in there. We’ve been wearing climbing shoes, which help, ‘cause they have very small toes and you can actually fit them in the small handles. Also, all crates are not created equal: Some have bigger handles than others; some are more rigid than others. We’ve been real connoisseurs of milk crates now, and I’ve been starting to collect the heavier duty ones, the ones that are more rigid and have bigger handles, to allow big feet into them.

Other than that, the way you can brace yourself on the top of the tower varies. Taller people will stand two crates down from the top, shorter people will stand in the top crate. Then you have to brace yourself by reaching around with one of your arms and holding the top of the tower together, then freeing your other hand to grab the next crate that you’re going to stack. That’s really the trickiest part, ‘cause you’re kind of holding on with one hand, and the whole tower is rocking back and forth. You can really see it from the top, as you sight the line straight down the tower. It’s kind of unnerving how much the tower will flex. If you watch which way it’s going, you can kind of correct for it, and just balance it and hold it together. Grab your next crate, clear the top, carefully place it, and then I usually push down on the whole tower to make sure it’s all seated and together while I very carefully move my feet up to the next crate. And repeat.

Come try CrateStacking yourself at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire on Sunday, October 19th!

Calling all Educators! Meet-Up at the Faire

Educator Meetup.FINALblk Are you interested in incorporating making into your classroom or educational program? Want to meet like-minded teachers exploring making and design? Whether you’re a maker curious teacher or a tinkering classroom champion, you are invited to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire Educator Meet-Up on Sunday, October 19th.

EBMMF Educator Meet-Up participants will have the opportunity to connect with colleagues, tinker with curriculum, and learn from other makers. The meet-up will also provide an opportunity to become part of a larger, ongoing network of like-minded educators.

The EBMMF Educator Meet-Up will consist of three sessions designed to compliment the offerings of the Faire itself. The 9:45a and 4:00p sessions will be 45 minutes each, and the noon-1p session will include lunch. All sessions are built around supporting making in your setting and building our maker educator community. Participants are encouraged to attend all three sessions, but welcome to attend just one or two. Between sessions, you’ll have hours to get inspired by the plethora of EBMMF makers, since Faire admission is included in your meet-up registration.

Register here for the EBMMF Education Meet-Up. Enter the promotional code “EDHACK” at the bottom, then select the discounted Adult Advance Purchase ticket. It’s just $5! (Please: only actual Educators planning on attending the event for this ticket. Complete this transaction and go back to the ticket link to purchase additional tickets for family and friends.)

Thanks to the group of local, visionary teachers who have organized this 3-session Educator Meet-Up to enhance the EBMMF experience for educators, as well as meet-up supporters Park Day School and Agency by Design.

There’s a booming awareness of the importance of making in education, and the East Bay Area is a hotbed of activity. Don’t miss this chance to connect, tinker, learn, and make. Register today!

P.S. Want to share with other teachers?  Download the flyer and our event poster for sharing.