Eat me – Shopsin’s Philosophy


Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin is most definitely one of my favorite, cooking, food writing, philosophy and design books. Its witty, thoughtful, informative, blatantly honest and at times appropriately NYC gritty. I enjoy the images, as much as the words, that are profoundly mundane and real. Shopsin’s philosophy  implicitly fuels his life, cooking, business and becomes explicit, almost belatedly,  in his epilogue about the art of staying small,

“Running a restaurant for me is about running a restaurant. It is not a means to get someplace else. I wake up every morning and work for a living like a farmer. Running a restaurant is a condition of life for me. And I like everything about this life. I like waking up in the morning knowing I am going to the restaurant to cook, that something unexpected will happen to me in the kitchen, and that no matter what, I will learn something new. I like the actual process of cooking. I like shopping for the food that I cook, and I like my interactions with the people I meet while shopping. I like my customers, and I like working with my kids. It is a simple existence, but for me the beauty is in that simplicity. These are the things that bring me pleasure — and they bring me great pleasure on an extremely regular basis.

Living this way, pursuing your own happiness, is addictive and it’s the way I have tried to conduct my life. What this means is doing what it takes to make yourself feel good each day, not to make yourself less good today in the hopes that your life will be good in ten years because you’re working really hard now or because your property will be worth more money then. The way I figure it, if you make everyday of your life as happy as you can, nobody can take that away from you. It’s in the bank.”

Shopsin’s insistence on experience, on being in the present, on owning one’s pleasure, on loving a complete process, all point to his pragmatic life affirming philosophy just as his extensive menu is evidence of his lust for experimentation, learning and innovation. Next time, a quote about his thoughts on creativity. In the meantime,  read the book and its recipes. Its about food, philosophy and design that is perfect reading for hungry philosophers everywhere.


9 thoughts on “Eat me – Shopsin’s Philosophy

      • jcharles00

        You know, I can’t even remember what I had! I just went through my journal and apparently didn’t write anything about the meal. I feel bad for that, but for some reason, my desire to visit cultural land marks is more about having been there than the experience.. I guess?

        I feel like I might have had pancakes. I do remember that the menu was gigantic and it was practically impossible to choose.

        The experience was a little weird. The restaurant had moved and was not in either of the places it was in the film about him. Hard to find since we didn’t know what to look for. it was inside a multi-food-business “mall”, tucked away in a corner. very tiny. I think there were only four tables. Kenny wasn’t working that day; his sons were running the place. it was cozy. Seems like the food was good, but not amazing. Still, nice to have visited.


      • jcharles00

        I only knew because netflix had the film some months before my trip! I really think that service has taken over a large role in american culture as a thought leader, which is more than I can say for most other “tastemaker” institutions.


      • lisabanu

        Amazon, Netflix, Yelp and the like certainly shape conversations. I always find the “share what you just read, watched or bought” button strange. We all seem to be engaged in broadcast monologues (this blog included) and I don’t know how to convert it into meaningful dialogue without knowing who I’m talking with. For this blog, I imagine I’m talking with my daughter or veering off topic in a class lecture. It would be interesting to record how much we follow online recommendations. This makes me think of a book ironically recommended on my Oyster list…The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of like minded America is tearing us apart by Bill Bishop. Haven’t read it yet, but the title alone suggests the paradox of sharing that hovers between diversity and uniformity.


      • jcharles00

        interesting idea. consensus seems like such an important thing to strive for.. it definitely makes things easier. kind of a societal efficiency. but I guess it has a price.


Thoughts? Questions? Comments?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s