Profile: Daniel Klein

Daniel Klein

Founder of the Perennial Plate, an online documentary series

Homer Barnes, a self-described redneck from Mississippi, offered Daniel Klein a beer and then took him down to the river to go noodling for catfish.

A couple southern boys set Klein up on the front of their boat in the middle of the Arkansas night, pushing into the weeds so he could snatch bullfrogs that they later fried and washed down with a can of Natural Ice.

A sea urchin fisherman dressed Klein in a wet suit and the two dove into the Pacific Ocean to collect their catch.

A Minnesota couple brought him out their field to pick organic vegetables.  

All of Klein’s adventures are captured in his online documentary series, Perennial Plate (theperennialplate.com). The series, produced by Klein and his girlfriend, Mirra Fine, explores sustainable and local food across the country.

What he’s found, however, is that his adventures are just as much about people and their culture as it is about food.

“Food is the topic, but people is what it’s really about,” Klein said in a phone interview while he and Fine were headed to Maine to harvest seaweed. “We’re getting to see this cross section of America, and it’s fascinating to see the diversity of people and ideas and cultures that exist.”

The Perennial Plate is in its second season. After a year of documenting interesting sustainable farming, hunting and gathering in Minnesota, the couple moved out of their Powderhorn apartment, packed up their Toyota Prius and hit the road for a six-month national tour.

Every week, the couple produce a roughly 10-minute mini-documentary about their latest exploit — usually edited on the road or in the home of a generous host.

The show often ends with Klein, a chef, using the ingredients harvested that day to cook a meal. When the couple gets back, they plan to write a cookbook using the food they experienced on the trip.

The series has reached 70 episodes and is funded by the National Cooperative Grocers Association and other donors.