Stacy Michelson has been drawing since she was a little kid. But it was a trip to Japan in her teens that got Michelson doodling food caricatures with big personalities. She sketched coffee cups with grumpy faces, smiling stacks of pancakes and high-fivin’ burgers and pizzas. The visit “changed my perspective on packaging and using characters to sell things,” Michelson told Evan on this week’s show. “There’s just cute stuff on all the packages. It makes me want to buy something that I don’t even need or want or eat.”
Fast forward to 2017. Michelson now has a thriving business on Etsy selling accessories and clothing that bear her foodie designs. There are enamel boba tea and “grumpy coffee” pins; canvas “booze bank,” “brunch bucks” and “coffee ca$h” purses; and t-shirts that tell you when it’s “food o’clock.” Much to our delight, Michelson has also been spending her Saturday mornings listening to the radio and sketching each episode of “Good Food.” (She began tagging us on Instagram in January and that’s how we found out what she’s been up to.)
Her growing collection of nearly two dozen colorful illustrations are rich with detail and depict a crazy cast of characters, as is evident from a sketch of a biscuit in boxing gloves fighting a square of cornbread, and a drawing of chef Ludo Lefebvre’s very sharp (and very French) knife. The project has meant illustrating plenty of foods that Michelson does not eat, like meat, seafood and eggs. “Honestly it’s not weird for me. I know people eat meat, I just happen to not eat meat. But I do eat versions of those things … just a vegan version.” The last time Michelson ate anything remotely non-vegan was chicken 20 years ago, on that revelatory trip to Japan.
We were so taken with Michelson’s work that we commissioned her to design a tote bag for the show. One side of the jumbo canvas bag spells out “KCRW” in condiment characters. On the other, fruits and vegetables, including a happy avocado wearing a headband and a cool crookneck squash sporting an LA chain and shades, hold up signs that spell out “Good Food.” Michelson says the design was inspired by her love for farmers markets and the women’s marches that took place around the country earlier this year. Here’s how to score a “Good Food” tote bag of your own.
STACY MICHELSON’S GO-TO VEGAN SPOTS IN L.A.
Pine & Crane in Silver Lake: Try the dan dan noodles, the spicy peanuts, the three-cup trumpet mushrooms, plus the lotus root salad and bamboo shoots from the deli case. “Sometimes the dumplings are vegan, ask them!”
Bar Amá in Downtown L.A.: Try the cashew poblano queso, cauliflower with cilantro pesto, Amá’s enchiladas with carrot sofrito, queso fresco and potato.
Burgerlords in Chinatown: Try the vegan cheeseburger and the Lord of the Fries, which come loaded with cheese, grilled onions and Thousand Island dressing. “They have beef burgers for your non-vegan friends.”
Hugo’s Tacos in Atwater Village: Try the torta, the spinach corn tamales, the soy chorizo taquitos and the nachos.
Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream: The flavors rotate but try the matcha, coffee, cookie dough and honeycomb. “BEST vegan ice cream in LA.”
Pizzanista! in the Arts District: Try a slice of the Seitan Meets Jesus with vegan cheese, pepperoni, sausage and bacon or the garlic knots and the broccoli rabe.
Crossroads Kitchen in West Hollywood: Try the pasta carbonara, truffle potatoes and lasagna.