Leif Hedendal

san francisco, CA

Through cooking and bringing people together Leif strives to address issues of community and communality, food politics and sustainable agriculture, the influence of subculture, health and nutrition, and, ultimately, our relationships to our food and each other. Primarily self-taught, his cooking focuses on micro-seasonality, humanely raised meat, under-utilized vegetables, urban agriculture, and wild foraging. Through the events he has hosted and collaborated on over the years, his iconoclastic work has broadened—though he is first and foremost a chef, his projects are often deeply engaged in artistic practice.

His ongoing Dinner Discussion series can best be described as social practice, or participatory art: Leif brings together artists, curators, and writers with chefs, farmers, and food activists to sit around a table, enjoy a simple meal, discuss their projects, and form connections. Started in 2008, Dinner Discussion has traveled to New York, Chicago, Copenhagen, and Berlin, and has been co-hosted by such notables as Alice Waters, Harvard University, Art in General, e-flux, and Slow Food USA. Remarkable guests such as Francis Lam, Rebecca Solnit, Les Blank, Daniel Patterson, Agnes Denes, Peter Coyote, Ted Purves, Amy Franceschini, Larry Rinder, Novella Carpenter, Jill Magid, and Doug Ashford have attended, among hundreds of others.

Leif has cooked at Noma, Chez Panisse, Greens, and Citron, as well as numerous underground restaurants. He has done food-based work with SFMOMA, YBCA (SF), Berkeley Art Museum, Soex, Triple Base Gallery, Studio for Urban Projects, Kinfolk Magazine, Art In General (NYC), Space All Over (NYC), Ballroom Marfa, NADA at Art Basel Miami, Open Engagement (Portland), and InCUBATE (Chicago). He has been a guest lecturer at Harvard, CCA, SFAI, Mills College, and the Danish Royal Academy of Art.

Leif was a delegate to Slow Food’s Terra Madre conference in 2010, an annual gathering of the international food community. He coordinated international events with Outstanding in the Field, co-curated the food for Doug Aiken’s nomadic public art project Station to Station with Alice Waters, and served as culinary advisor to the Kadist Art Foundation. With the artist Ben Kinmont he produced “An Exhibition in Your Mouth,” a multi-course meal based on recipes inspired by artists throughout history, and served as a resident chef for Meatpaper Magazine. His experience is wide and varied, marked by a commitment to curiosity, engagement, community, exploration, and beauty.

Leif’s cooking work is currently focused on catering for creative events in San Francisco and New York, while in his artistic practice he continues his Dinner Discussion series as well as artist collaborations around the world.