Lily Yasuda Isn’t Making You a Happy Meal

This is the first installment of Eating and Conversation, a new series of Q & A’s where I talk to interesting people about the interesting things they do—while eating food.

Fellow diner: Lily Yasuda
Establishment: Wild Root Cafe and Market

Lily Yasuda, pictured above weilding a spear of french toast, grew up in Boise and attended Boise High School. She is returning home to make a film. I caught up with her last week.

Henry Coffey: What’s your food origin story?

Lily Yasuda: I come from Boise, Idaho, but I come from Boise, Idaho as a product of Dave Yasuda’s upbringing. Food was always a big deal growing up. I have two parents who love to cook and cook a lot, which I think is pretty rare. Food is something I’ve tried to hold on to now that I’m poor and have fewer cast iron skillets.

You live in Orange County, and spend time in LA. How does the Boise food scene stack up against the food scene in those places?

California has great pho, great ramen, really amazing Mexican food. The Boise taco scene doesn’t quite stack up unfortunately.

In Boise there’s less diversity, but the places that really excel offer something special, and you combine that with a community that’s genuinely stoked to have great food, and it can actually be a better experience.

What are the highlights, for you, of the Boise food experience?

The bison burger at Boise Fry Company is just one of the best things a person can eat. It’s really good. I love Bittercreek. Their polenta fries are so crispy and they come with that delicious aioli. We’re sitting in the lovely establishment of Wild Root, and their pork belly banh mi is also a quality time.

Wild Root is one of my favorite places in Boise.

Wild Root is really creative in a way that the Boise food scene tends to lack. They have a menu of items that you couldn’t get anywhere else, and they really borrow from different kinds of global cuisine. And the presentation is beautiful.

Migas at Wild Root. Similar to huevos rancheros. Brilliant tomatillo sauce. A great way to wake up.

You just graduated from the screenwriting program at Chapman University. What made you choose film school? 

Because I love food—oh wait, no. Because I realized I would make a ton of money doing this, so it was the obvious thing to do.

You’ve written several screenplays. Do you consider the diet of your characters in your creative process?

I think that cooking and eating are core experiences, particularly in intimate or romantic relationships, and that’s something I like to touch on as a writer.

You’re making a movie this summer.

My friend Michael Wolfe and I are shooting a feature film I wrote, Like Love, here in Boise, this August. We are really, really excited to get it off the ground.

Like Love is being crowdfunded on Seed&Spark.

Why did you decide to film this movie in your hometown?

In large part, it is logistical. It reduces our expenses and we have a lot of community support. We really need that support. We are super poor, and this is our entire crew’s first feature film, give or take.

But I think that’s what gives independent film the potential to be really great, because you don’t have money or time or resources, so you have to be really creative.

How can people help you?

I feel like this was definitely lost on me before going to film school, but you just don’t realize how expensive it is to make a movie—even if it is tiny and short. Some of the money goes to equipment, some of it goes to insurance, and part of it just goes to paying people something.

We’re raising about $35,000 to make this movie happen. We are predominantly sourcing these funds through a crowdfunding campaign on Seed&Spark which is live now.

We would love for you to donate to us. You can donate as little as $5. You get some super cool perks. You get to be involved in making this teeny, scrappy independent film, which is really exciting.

(Follow Like Love on Facebook and Instagram)

Can you explain filmmaking with a food metaphor?

Aaron Sorkin has a metaphor for this. In his Masterclass, he likens good writing to cooking. He says, if your goal was to prepare beef in the way the fewest number of people would find objectionable you would make a McDonald’s hamburger, but if you were a chef, your goal in life would not be to make a McDonald’s hamburger. So as a writer your goal is not to make something everybody likes, your goal is to make something different.

What do people get wrong about food and what do people get wrong about film?

That it needs to be expensive to be good. ∎

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