Best is big term, but in this case it’s easy to stand behind the best cookie in NYC since Chip delivers on every bite. I stopped in unannounced to their original location on 30th ave and 34th street in Astoria, Queens to get the not so skinny about their amazing mouth treats. Lemme tell you something; you almost can’t call these cookies… they are like warm, little, buttery, sweet personal cakes you can eat on the street without causing too much attention. Since I filmed this they’ve gone on to open a bunch of new locations so definitely check them out they are phenom. Thanks to Russell Dreher for being on camera, Insider and of course Chip for making heaven you can eat. #chipcookies #cookies #astoriaqueens
Last summer Brad Stuart and I got the chance to travel around the world and make films for WOW Air, having won their global TravelGuide Contest. It was a surreal experience, somehow being chosen from over 30,000 incredible entries, and learning how to produce a full travel program on the road with just two people.
We produced over 110 films in just three months, all while traveling, which pushed us nearly to the limit of exhaustion. The funny thing about doing what you love, you never realize how truly spent you are until you stop.
Coming back there was a lot to process and learn from, and share as well. Lots of people have had questions like how did we win the contest, or what’s the best way to travel like a travel writer, how did we plan our travel vlog, or just how the experience was. This week I sat down with the good people at The Points Guy and answered some of these questions, which you can read on their site, or down below in an extended interview.
The Louvre. The MoMa. Candytopia.
Who knew a museum could be this much fun? Candytopia is a wonderland of sugar and color where guests are encouraged to gorge themselves on the sticky goodness as they marvel at the strangely sublime artwork this team of candy-creatives have crafted. Replicas of some of the world’s most famous works of fine art, from the Mona Lisa to the Venus De Milo have been reproduced in saccharine similarity, and the effect is stunning. Much more than a gimmick, Candytopia is an interactive, fun, and wild experience that you really have to go to fully understand.
Of course there are more instagram opportunities here then you probably have space in your phone for, and even a giant marshmallow pit that you can lose your worries (and self) in, but the real joy is watching everyone lose their mind in this candy palace, bouncing off the walls with pure joy (and sugar strength).
We sure were sweet on the Candy Queen and creator herself Jackie Sorkin who gave us a little tour of this magic place, which quickly became one of our favorite destinations in LA. Don’t fret though… Candytopia is a roving experience, with plans to tour the US this year, so hop over to their site to see if they’re coming to your city next and grab tickets while you can!
JOIN THE CLAST!
What’s special about Berlin? Nobelhart & Schmutzig is special about Berlin.
Nobelhart & Schmutzig can be found across the street from Checkpoint Charlie in one of the most lackluster sections in Berlin. It’s front facade is nothing more then a curtained wall of windows of an old 60’s office building. Ring the nondescript bell adjacent the door, wait for a hot second, and be greeted by one of the most lovely Michelin stared chef’s in the world.
While outside is grey, vapid, and wholy amorphas, inside is more like a womb of good times about to be had. Gold wood tones, dark velvety greens, carmel collored incandescent lighting instantly brings you to life. Your host, Billy Wagner, brings you a vagina shaped earthenware mug filled with fresh pressed juice to brighten your pallet. He then sits you at the large communal bar that corrals the frenetic kitchen where you get to watch the master, Micha Schäfer, birth your 10 plate gastronomic adventure.
There is no point in describing how amazing this meal was as telling someone how good something tastes is akin to trying to describe how blue the sky is. You just will have to see it for yourself. However, what you must know, is what the meal is. The meal, is, Berlin. Everything you will find in front of you comes from the city and closely surrounding area. These are the flavors of the region, a celebration of a unique geographic phenomena, that is extremely rare to find in one of the most prolific and diverse culinary capitals of Europe.
Each menu item is listed with a name. “This is the person responsible for the ingredients in the dish.” Micha tells us in his signature baritone weighted blanket voice, “we know everyone personally, we must, because the ingredients are simply the best you can find.” Nobelhart & Schmutzig is all about the quality. It’s not about creating flavors you know, or even can reproduce. It’s about tasting the region in a way that is just simply not possible anywhere else.
“You will not find olive oil or coriander anywhere on the menu,” Billy Wagner says in his poetic vibrato, “we only use the ingredients from Berlin. This means we have to explore using things in a different way, like fermented butters, or unripe apples. The tastes here are unlike anywhere else.” he correctly informs me. The apples, it should be mentioned, beyond having the name of the grower who picked them, also has the GPS coordinates of the tree where they came from. Nice touch.
There are no phones, no pictures, no nothing digital allowed inside Nobelhart & Schmutzig by design. This sacred space is meant for communication in vivo, something Billy feels very strongly about. The seating arrangement facilitates the conception of new friendships, where strangers are apt to start up a conversation, perhaps taste each other’s wine, or in the best case scenario as Billy points out “go home together. My favorite part is when I have to refill the condom machine in the bathroom because I know we were a success.”
Nobelhart & Schmutzig is a dining experience that is singular in Berlin, and frankly, hard to find in any corner of the world. Such an elevated respect for cuisine perfectly paired with the casual familiarness of friends, is a recipe for a sublime evening. I was extremely honored to be invited to bring my camera in and share this unique experience, and do hope that next time you’re in Berlin you too experience the magic that happens behind these doors.
When I was growing up, I never would have guessed that someone would want to ask me questions about what I did, so they could tell other people. I’m not saying it happens often, and I’m definitely not saying I’m famous, which is why I guess I still find it wonderful and odd when anyone contacts me and says “I’m doing an article and I’d like to interview you.”
I guess what I’m trying to say in a weird way is thank you. Thank you for letting me be one of the lucky ones that gets to do what he really loves to do.
I was thinking about it the other day. I was in a hammock, in the Peruvian rainforest, drinking a cold Cusqueña beer, and strangely feeling, for the first time, successful. All my life I’ve always had this feeling of “I need to be somewhere else” or “well this won’t last”. Swaying back and forth, listening to the Howler Monkeys bark at each other, and being paid to experience all this, I felt for the first time a calmness that I can only say was success. I didn’t want anything else, anything more, anything different. I was just really happy how it all turned out.
I’m lucky. I’m lucky I had great parents, great teachers and great friends. I’m lucky I had the time and the drive to follow a dream, and I’m lucky that people gave me a chance to do that dream for them.
So thank you.
That’s all, just a little moment of gratitude from a very not famous person who is very happy to do what he does. Below is the interview from Constructed By which is a cool site that spotlights creative people. Check it out and hopefully be inspired.
Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Roberto Serrini and I do perhaps too many things. Mainly I am a director, usually for commercials or branded narratives. I work with brands like Lincoln, Guinness, Victoria’s Secret, Starbucks, big fun global brands. I’m a partner at a creative production company called No-Frames, where we conceptualize and execute film and commercial production.
I also am an avid drone pilot. I’ve been lucky to fly my camera in several countries around the world, capturing some beautiful footage. Besides that I do a bit of travel writing and photography for various magazines and blogs, allowing me to see the world, and experience the best of foreign cultures. Strangely I think all these passions feed into one another and make them independently stronger.
What forms of media have influenced you the most?
In the beginning, movies, hands down. I studied Film Theory which meant a lot of reading and watching of films and not a lot of making them. It was torture at first, especially for someone who only wanted to make something, but I can see now that being forced to really study the medium before attempting it made a huge impact on how I work now. We used to watch entire films with our ears, meaning, no visuals. It was like being trained as a Navy Seal for film. Once you start looking at your art in a different way, deconstructing it, I think it gives you the ability to truly control it.
Now though, I have to say that online digital media influences me a lot. There was a time that independent film was taking chances and doing things that were far and beyond the norm, pushing boundaries, breaking conventions, etc. Now you find that online, and it happens daily, immediately. There is always something new and fantastic happening, and the ability to share it at any moment with an audience to get feedback is a dream come true.
What hardware / software do you use?
Cameras, lots of cameras. I own 5D’s, FS700s’s, Arri’s, old Bolex’s, you name it. Lights and sound gear. Sliders and tripods. More glass then I will ever need. If you make films you end up collecting gear along the way, like scars from a war. Anything I don’t personally have we rent. As for software I stick mainly with Adobe these days; I used to be a FCP jockey but ever since they dumped it for X I went over to Premiere full time. Lot’s of After Effects, Photoshop and Lightroom. I started as an editor with a lust for motion graphics, so as a Director I still love to edit my own work, and clients like it too because it keeps the projects streamlined and fluid.
Don’t forget the good ol pen and paper. I write. A lot. Everyday. The old ways are the best some times.
What would be your dream creative setup?
It depends on what I’m doing. If its writing or editing, I have to be alone and usually with an internet connection. The internet has become a piece of my memory where I’ll say, “What was that video I saw with the guy in the green screen suit?” Then I can Google it and see it and incorporate that idea into mine. It’s invaluable. And being alone while working is a necessity because you have to dig a bit of a hole to dive into so you can juggle all these puzzle pieces and make something. Creation a lot of the time is the balance between solidarity and communion.
Otherwise, if we’re being creative, or directing on set, I like lots and lots of movement. I like an active set, where people are working their best. Where ideas are coming and we’re dealing with them in real time. Where problems are arising and we’re solving them as they come. Sure, quiet sets are fine too, and the work gets done, but personally, at the end of the day we’ve made something brilliant and it was chaos to do so, it’s extremely rewarding.