Donnelly Marks

James Boo’s minute-long episodes explore New York's vibrant, international food community.

Max Bonem
August 09, 2017

With its cultural diversity and culinary talent New York is one of the world's great food cities. And while trendy menus and Michelin-starred restaurants do crowd the city, there are also anonymous cooks across New York, many of them recent immigrants, making food worthy of attention. James Boo’s new online series, One Minute Meal, tells their stories, 60 seconds at a time.

Boo, a former food writer, started experimenting with documentary filmmaking a few years ago and One Minute Meal began primarily as a means for him to keep honing his skills. But he also wanted to tell the stories of cooks he’d met that didn’t fit in with his past writing. “I wanted to pursue stories that I knew were already out there…I had written about their food, but hadn’t had the opportunity to write about their lives.”

Enter One Minute Meal, which Boo describes, "as an endeavor to make media more inclusive and dignified in its portrayal of minorities." With the first series minute-long episodes, Boo has explored a vast range of cuisines and cultures across New York City from a Bangladeshi spot in the Bronx to a Muslim-owned Jewish deli in Brooklyn. But he's also taken on larger social issues, like the story of a gay Syrian refugee rebuilding his life on the Lower East Side.

Though the episodes are short, Boo records up to two hours of footage for each one. He has no qualms admitting that his 60-second shorts are not complete portraits of the individuals he profiles. “I’m a very strong believer that you never need to be complete to tell an effective narrative,” he says.

For the current season, Boo is partnering with borough-specific chapters of Edible, including Edible ManhattanBrooklynQueens and The Bronxeach of which will take turns dropping one video per day for a month. The episodes will also join previous seasons of the series on the One Minute Meal website and Vimeo channel.

Here are some our favorite recent episodes:

Slice Discrimination

A third generation pizza maker deals with changing technology on New York's Upper West Side

The Fourth Place

A Bangladeshi restaurant owner wants his place to feel like home in the Bronx.

Owned and Cooperated

Immigrant women get a foothold in America working in the kitchen in East Harlem.

New American

A gay Syrian immigrant finds a new sense of community hosting dinner parties.

All in the Same Boat

A Thai bar owner offers up an authentic sense of cool in Queens