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The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry: Lee Tran Lam quizzes chefs, critics, bar staff and other people from the world of food about their career highlights and lowlights, war stories and favourite places to eat and drink in Sydney.

Aug 5, 2019

Sweet and sour cane-toad legs. Multiple cat recipes. A deadly cocktail you’re not meant to serve. These are some of the fascinating (and deliberately provocative) things you’ll find in Eat The Problem, the 544-page book by American artist and curator Kirsha Kaechele. It’s part cookbook and art project, with an impressive list of collaborators (including chefs Dominique Crenn, Peter Gilmore, Christine Manfield and Enrique Olvera) and pages that are filled with creative ways of dealing with invasive species (pig's eyeball margaritas or starfish-on-a-stick, anyone?).

Eat The Problem is also the inspiration behind an exhibition of the same name at MONA, Hobart (running until September 2) and a guest dinner series happening on August 6 at Melbourne's Vue de Monde, Byron Bay's Harvest on August 7 and Brisbane's Urbane on August 8.

Kirsha is the perfect candidate for imaginatively addressing pests, given that she grew up on Guam, which was overrun with brown snakes – the "rock star of invasive species". They even landed coverage in The New York Times and inspired WTF solutions (paracetamol-laced mice were dropped from parachutes to deal with the snake problem).

Also, her wedding dress was made out of invasive deer, she carries a cane toad purse and thinks we should make candles using fat from culled animals. Thinking sustainably comes naturally to her and it was her plan to hold a zero-waste food market at MONA in 2013 that helped kickstart the Eat The Problem project.

Kirsha is fascinating to talk to and she approaches the issue of sustainability like no one else – instead of being overly serious and dour, she addresses environmental issues with plenty of invention and an unmissably bright palette (the feasts that launched the Eat The Problem exhibition, after all, took place on the world's biggest rainbow-coloured glockenspiel). Even her cutlery designs, which force people to share their food or feed someone across the table, are meant to provoke conversation and social interactions.

She also talks about her 24 Carrot Gardens Project and her favourite places to eat and drink in Hobart (and Sydney, too).