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Chef Maya Erickson’s Black Sesame Dessert – Food Director Jennifer Davick



Maya Erickson’s Black Sesame Dessert

Film by Director Jennifer Davick and Producer Amy Yvonne Yu
Written by Tanner Latham | Post-Production by @mfd_sf

Stylized, Sexy, Provocative and Decadent. Everything You Would Expect from a Grandmother’s Recipe.

At 13 years old, Maya Erickson was working in a professional kitchen, tasked primarily with filling cookies and wrapping tuiles. She shrugs this detail off now, as if it’s simply a throwaway line unworthy of her bio. As if most newly-turned teenagers must surely have been like her—resisting the temptation to toggle among their screens and choosing, instead, a highly disciplined path.

It is with this kind of casual, unassuming tone that this wunderkind (now she’s in her mid-20s), pastry chef describes her Black Sesame Ice Cream with Black Sesame Pudding, a dessert rooted in her former chef’s grandmother’s poppy seed pudding recipe yet presented with a stylized, sexy and provocative manner that’s as arresting and mood-evoking visually as it is to the palate.

Maya created this dessert while working as the pastry chef at Lazy Bear, a San Francisco restaurant that grew from the cult-like following of an underground supper club and whose own chef/owner David Barzelay recently received the nod as a 2016 Food and Wine Best New Chef.

To complement the ice cream and pudding, Maya’s Black Sesame dessert features cassis jam, cassis pate de fruit, dehydrated devil’s food cake, forbidden rice pudding and a light dusting of charcoal. This creation—with its colors and flavors and textures—makes you question what you think you know about food. This is the epitome of Maya’s gift to anyone lucky enough to receive it—a delicately plated, understated, experiential dessert that decadently performs.

Simply put, it’s unexpected.

As our conversation moved beyond Maya’s dessert, we asked her a few other questions as well:

TL: What are some of the things that inspire you now as you’re evolving as a pastry chef?

ME: It comes from many different places. Sometimes I will know that there’s a flavor that will go well in my head. I don’t have any reason why. I just did a persimmon and root beer dessert with malt and chocolate. It just seemed so natural to me; it just makes sense in my head. But there can be other inspiration. Also, seeing what other people do and eating at other people’s restaurants and seeing what other chefs are capable of is always inspiring to try to help you find your own voice. You’ll see techniques or flavors that you never thought of or never considered. That’s always a huge inspiration.

It’s very easy to get stuck in your head. You have certain things you fall back on certain things you lean towards. To be taken out of your element and forced to reexamine what food means to you and the food you want to make is very important.

TL: How would you define what is happening in San Francisco now from a culinary standpoint? Are people pushing more? Are they trying to do traditional things in interesting ways?

ME: I think there are many schools of fine dining right now. There’s always the classic French fine dining. Then there’s more Spanish-inspired modernist fine dining. Then there’s Nordic fine dining, which is hyper simple and hyper local. It’s about finding the balance among the three of those in a lot of restaurants. The tech boom in San Francisco is creating an interesting environment for restaurants because there is such a demand for them. So many restaurants are opening with a really high caliber. The problem is that a lot of cooks can’t afford to live here anymore, which is really disheartening. So, you have all these badass restaurants that are super understaffed and trying to make it.

TL: If you were able to open your own place right now, what would it be like?

ME: I used to throw these pastry burlesque parties in San Francisco. That’s evolved into what, at the moment, we’re calling Dirty High Tea. I have a lot of friends in the performing arts, and burlesque has always been one of my loves. The two go hand-in-hand to me. It’s like Marie Antoinette, Rococo opulence. Dessert is a very decadent, luxurious and extravagant thing already. We’re going to do high tea service with giant platters of pastries and serve cocktails in tea pots and have performances and lounge acts and singers and girls in frilly clothes as servers. We’ll start out as a pop-up, and then in a million years maybe have a real place. But that’s like a million years away.

TL: Would you be performing as well?

ME: I used to be a dancer because my mom ran a dance company. I used to perform at the events I threw. We’ll see.

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Chef Maya Erickson’s Black Sesame Dessert



Maya Erickson’s Black Sesame Dessert

Film by Director Jennifer Davick and Executive Producer Amy Yvonne Yu
DP Devin Whetstone | Story by Writer Tanner Latham | Post-Production by Mission Film & Design

Stylized, Sexy, Provocative and Decadent. Everything You Would Expect from a Grandmother’s Recipe.

At 13 years old, Maya Erickson was working in a professional kitchen, tasked primarily with filling cookies and wrapping tuiles. She shrugs this detail off now, as if it’s simply a throwaway line unworthy of her bio. As if most newly-turned teenagers must surely have been like her—resisting the temptation to toggle among their screens and choosing, instead, a highly disciplined path.

It is with this kind of casual, unassuming tone that this wunderkind (now she’s in her mid-20s), pastry chef describes her Black Sesame Ice Cream with Black Sesame Pudding, a dessert rooted in her former chef’s grandmother’s poppy seed pudding recipe yet presented with a stylized, sexy and provocative manner that’s as arresting and mood-evoking visually as it is to the palate.

Maya created this dessert while working as the pastry chef at Lazy Bear, a San Francisco restaurant that grew from the cult-like following of an underground supper club and whose own chef/owner David Barzelay recently received the nod as a 2016 Food and Wine Best New Chef.

To complement the ice cream and pudding, Maya’s Black Sesame dessert features cassis jam, cassis pate de fruit, dehydrated devil’s food cake, forbidden rice pudding and a light dusting of charcoal. This creation—with its colors and flavors and textures—makes you question what you think you know about food. This is the epitome of Maya’s gift to anyone lucky enough to receive it—a delicately plated, understated, experiential dessert that decadently performs.

Simply put, it’s unexpected.

As our conversation moved beyond Maya’s dessert, we asked her a few other questions as well:

TL: What are some of the things that inspire you now as you’re evolving as a pastry chef?

ME: It comes from many different places. Sometimes I will know that there’s a flavor that will go well in my head. I don’t have any reason why. I just did a persimmon and root beer dessert with malt and chocolate. It just seemed so natural to me; it just makes sense in my head. But there can be other inspiration. Also, seeing what other people do and eating at other people’s restaurants and seeing what other chefs are capable of is always inspiring to try to help you find your own voice. You’ll see techniques or flavors that you never thought of or never considered. That’s always a huge inspiration.

It’s very easy to get stuck in your head. You have certain things you fall back on certain things you lean towards. To be taken out of your element and forced to reexamine what food means to you and the food you want to make is very important.

TL: How would you define what is happening in San Francisco now from a culinary standpoint? Are people pushing more? Are they trying to do traditional things in interesting ways?

ME: I think there are many schools of fine dining right now. There’s always the classic French fine dining. Then there’s more Spanish-inspired modernist fine dining. Then there’s Nordic fine dining, which is hyper simple and hyper local. It’s about finding the balance among the three of those in a lot of restaurants. The tech boom in San Francisco is creating an interesting environment for restaurants because there is such a demand for them. So many restaurants are opening with a really high caliber. The problem is that a lot of cooks can’t afford to live here anymore, which is really disheartening. So, you have all these badass restaurants that are super understaffed and trying to make it.

TL: If you were able to open your own place right now, what would it be like?

ME: I used to throw these pastry burlesque parties in San Francisco. That’s evolved into what, at the moment, we’re calling Dirty High Tea. I have a lot of friends in the performing arts, and burlesque has always been one of my loves. The two go hand-in-hand to me. It’s like Marie Antoinette, Rococo opulence. Dessert is a very decadent, luxurious and extravagant thing already. We’re going to do high tea service with giant platters of pastries and serve cocktails in tea pots and have performances and lounge acts and singers and girls in frilly clothes as servers. We’ll start out as a pop-up, and then in a million years maybe have a real place. But that’s like a million years away.

TL: Would you be performing as well?

ME: I used to be a dancer because my mom ran a dance company. I used to perform at the events I threw. We’ll see.

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The Unseen Sea



Check out my new film Adrift: http://vimeo.com/simonchristen/adrift

Update: Thanks so much for all your comments! I am reading them all and enjoy them a lot! I am sorry I can’t reply to all of you. I am traveling at the moment and only have internet access once in a while. I hope to get to all the questions eventually. Thanks again!

A collection of time lapses I took around the San Francisco Bay Area roughly shot over the period of one year.

Please watch in HD 🙂

Find more of my work on my website www.simonchristen.com

Follow me on my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Simon-Christen-Photography/183499695028114

or on my flickr account: www.flickr.com/seemoo

Music by Nick Cave – Mary’s Song from the Soundtrack of “Assassination of Jesse James”

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Scott Fraser: making of “Reign”.



Creating a painting like this is much like building a house. As you can see in this video, lots of prep and construction was involved. The set-up began in the corner of my studio where it sat for months on end. There was a lot of moving, tweaking, contemplation, and compositional changes which were necessary before finding the right balance of objects for the narrative to come together and work.

One of the biggest challenges was establishing the size of the work, combined with the amount of information needing to be transferred from still life to canvas. I started work in January and completed it in August. I like to work on just one thing at a time, start to finish.

First, I needed to build a set. I wanted to recreate a corner of my studio in the painting, right down to wall color, molding and floor, but it needed to be on a moveable platform on which everything would be secured, so I could roll it around as needed. This allowed me to move in and out of areas, and with the help of my son and his friends, I was able to raise it up onto supports so I could work comfortably on the portion of the still life under the table, at eye level. As you can imagine, there were lots of logistics to work out.

Pre-studies: I started out drawing a small string grid set up far across the room from the still life to allow me to establish a correct vanishing point. This enabled me to do the first, small preliminary drawing. The grid helped me work out the perspective challenges. Next came several more drawings, larger each time, which always referred back to the first key drawing, so the end work has a more real life experience, both close up and far away. On a scale of six by seven feet, it’s very hard to translate information as accurately as I like, so I start small which makes it easier for my eye to handle all the necessary detail at a distance.

Moving on to the pre-study painting, this was very involved and time consuming, taking about a month. I make most of my color decisions at this stage – it’s a great map. This is when things really start to slow down. Notice how things in my studio change, how quickly the light moves and shifts, and you can even watch the plant grow in the foreground. People and dogs come and go – mine is an open studio and I welcome the interaction with family and visitors to break up my long days.

For the full-scale painting, I established the final size by constructing a grid on the floor with string and tape to get the objects up to life size – how I want it to ultimately read. I want the viewer with the end painting to have the experience of walking into the room and feeling like they can reach out and touch the objects – like they are experiencing it in real life and real time.

My computer keeps me company – Netflix, books on CD and YouTube for music. When I have my headset on it is usually because I am talking to one of my artist friends, Bob or Dan, or a gallery owner. You can see my addiction to coffee and seltzer water by the containers on my palette. I have a custom hydraulic easel which goes up and down all day long as I paint different areas. It is quick and easy to adjust, and really helps my back. Because the painting with its reinforced armature weighs more than 120 pounds, I have to use ballast in the box that houses the motor for counter weight. This is made up primarily of cannon balls and lead weights that I picked up at flea markets and on eBay. I almost had an accident with the painting falling on me, so I had to take extra steps building up my easel. Now it can take up to 200 pounds, which opens up possibilities for even larger works in the future.

At the end of the day after I finish painting, I spent lots of time contemplating the over-all work, or just a specific passage, and making visual decisions about color and volume.

In the process of my under-painting, you will notice how fast it goes. Some might think that the painting looks complete at this stage, but in fact it’s only the beginning, a long way from the level of polish and resolution I am after. As things slow down, notice how I apply an opaque paint top coat, working from background to foreground again. My goal is to get down what I see in front of me the first time as best I can, to keep things fresh. I rarely achieve this. In fact, I usually end up with many coats of paint, glazing and scumbling. This is the challenge I love – pushing and pulling the spaces to get everything to read just right and have overall unity.

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Teaser #1: Cacophony Society ZONE Trip #4



Burning Man isn’t what it seems to be. Today it’s a massive event, with cool arts whipped by regular giant dust storms in the Black Rock desert. But 30 years ago, it was an underground event put together by renegade artists in the middle of San Francisco. Law enforcement didn’t like that, so with the help of the Cacophony Society, they moved it to an unforgiving wind-swept dry lakebed in the Nevada desert. It slowly changed to become the $20+ million event it now is. This film looks at how decadence turned into organized chaos, and how politics might have replaced philosophies. The whole Burning Man story.

This copy is made for private viewing. Use this for Public Screenings (10+):


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Teaser #2: My first Burning Man 1993



Burning Man isn’t what it seems to be. Today it’s a massive event, with cool arts whipped by regular giant dust storms in the Black Rock desert. But 30 years ago, it was an underground event put together by renegade artists in the middle of San Francisco. Law enforcement didn’t like that, so with the help of the Cacophony Society, they moved it to an unforgiving wind-swept dry lakebed in the Nevada desert. It slowly changed to become the $20+ million event it now is. This film looks at how decadence turned into organized chaos, and how politics might have replaced philosophies. The whole Burning Man story.

This copy is made for private viewing. Use this for Public Screenings (10+):


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Reel 2020



In this update of my reel, you will find several projects I have worked on as a video editor, photographer, and animator. I am always pushing myself to keep learning something new every day.

Roles: Videographer, editor, color grader.
0:05 Hyperlapse was taken in San Jerónimo, Colombia.
0:06 Hyperlapse was taken at the San Joseph Church, San Jose, California.
0:07 Footage taken at Urban Lights in Los Angeles.
0:08 Sunset in Medellin, Colombia.
0:09 San Francisco 22nd Street.
0:09 Lake in Jacksonville, Florida.
0:10 Thunderstorm in Marinilla, Colombia.
0:10 Footage shot at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, California.
0:15 Sunset taken in Arizona on Interstate 10
0:16 Ducks at the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Jose, California.
0:17 Country house at sunset in Marinilla, Colombia.
0:18 Full moon path in Gainesville, Florida.
0:19 Seagull at the Santa Monica Pier, California.
0:27 Footage taken in San Francisco by Embarcadero Station.
0:32 Trial clip for a videoclip I never did

As Video Editor and motion designer
0:19 Shots edited for the documentary “Gente obstinada con la vida” by Leidy Dávila
0:22 Shots edited for the commercial spot at 9 3/4 Book Store
0:30 Art Video “The TV as speech and object”
0:34 Commercial video for book club B612 in Medellin, Colombia
0:37 Test Drive for Sura at Vortix in Medellin, Colombia.
0:38 Evoka 2019 promo clip for a golf tournament.
0:41 Language interface for the game Wordless World.

Music: Ooyy – Thunderbird

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Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties


Price: $4.99
(as of Sep 19,2021 07:00:23 UTC – Details)

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A journalist’s 20-year fascination with the Manson murders leads to shocking new revelations about the FBI’s involvement in this riveting reassessment of an infamous case in American history.

Over two grim nights in Los Angeles, the young followers of Charles Manson murdered seven people, including the actress Sharon Tate, then eight months pregnant. With no mercy and seemingly no motive, the Manson Family followed their leader’s every order – their crimes lit a flame of paranoia across the nation, spelling the end of the 60s. Manson became one of history’s most infamous criminals, his name forever attached to an era when charlatans mixed with prodigies, free love was as possible as brainwashing, and utopia – or dystopia – was just an acid trip away.

Twenty years ago, when journalist Tom O’Neill was reporting a magazine piece about the murders, he worried there was nothing new to say. Then he unearthed shocking evidence of a cover-up behind the “official” story, including police carelessness, legal misconduct, and potential surveillance by intelligence agents. When a tense interview with Vincent Bugliosi – prosecutor of the Manson Family, and author of Helter Skelter – turned a friendly source into a nemesis, O’Neill knew he was onto something. But every discovery brought more questions:

  • Who were Manson’s real friends in Hollywood, and how far would they go to hide their ties?
  • Why didn’t law enforcement, including Manson’s own parole officer, act on their many chances to stop him?
  • And how did Manson-an illiterate ex-con-turn a group of peaceful hippies into remorseless killers?

O’Neill’s quest for the truth led him from reclusive celebrities to seasoned spies, from San Francisco’s summer of love to the shadowy sites of the CIA’s mind-control experiments, on a trail rife with shady cover-ups and suspicious coincidences. The product of two decades of reporting, hundreds of new interviews, and dozens of never-before-seen documents from the LAPD, the FBI, and the CIA, CHAOS mounts an argument that could be, according to Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Steven Kay, strong enough to overturn the verdicts on the Manson murders. This is a book that overturns our understanding of a pivotal time in American history.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.


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First 15 min of Dust & Illusions



Burning Man isn’t what it seems to be. Today it’s a massive event, with cool arts whipped by regular giant dust storms in the Black Rock desert. But 30 years ago, it was an underground event put together by renegade artists in the middle of San Francisco. Law enforcement didn’t like that, so with the help of the Cacophony Society, they moved it to an unforgiving wind-swept dry lakebed in the Nevada desert. It slowly changed to become the $20+ million event it now is. This film looks at how decadence turned into organized chaos, and how politics might have replaced philosophies. The whole Burning Man story.

This copy is made for private viewing. Use this for Public Screenings (10+):


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Full Moon



Video & Sound Design ©Pierre Ajavon 2017
pierreajavon.com
Screenings :
o 2020 – IMAGE PLAY – International Video Art Festival – Edition II, Funchal // Portugal
o 2019 – Moving Silently – Victoria Theater- San Francisco // USA
o 2019 – Moving Silently – Empress Theater – Vallejo California // USA
o 2018 – Nov – « Moving Silently » – Niles Essanay Silent flm Museum – Fremont, California // USA
o 2018 – Oct/Nov – VisualcontainerTV – Milan // Italy
o 2018 – Oct – « FULL MOON » (solo exhibition) – Digital Art, Video & Sound – Advertigo Design Artspace – Paris // France
o 2018 – Sept – The Visionary Collection – OGA – Rome // Italy
o 2018 – June – Estival – Festival of Contemporary Art of Malaga – Malaga // Spain
o 2018 – May – INTERFACE – Video Art Event, IXth edition (Night of Museums) – Țării Crișurilor Muzeum – Oradea // Romania
o 2018 – May – Noisefloor Experimental Music and Moving Image Festival 2018 – Stattfordshire University – Stoke // UK
o 2018 – March – 4th International Exhibition & Publication on New Media Art – CICA Museum – Gimpo // South Korea

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