Chopping Chicken, Cutting Audio

If the past few days have taught me anything, it’s this: condensing down almost three hours of recorded audio into only three to four minutes of smoothly produced, informative content is…difficult. I actually had a ton of fun with the recording process itself—on July 1st, I attended my first Tender Table meeting, and it was an awesome experience.

Being in a predominantly POC-occupied space while two women told stories through food produced audibly rich (and delicious) results. My interview with Stacey Tran, the founder of Tender Table, went similarly well; I was lucky enough to not only get a chance to talk with Stacey, but also to get a taste of her cooking! I spent the evening prodding my microphone towards her hands as she dexterously chopped apples, lettuce, and chicken. Eating in her apartment was a simultaneously intense and casual experience, and by the end of the night, I had taken roughly an hour and a half of audio.

But getting the audio was only half the battle. Now, I’m faced with the task of sifting through all this rough content. As much as I tried to craft the overall structure and shape of my project before the interview, I’m realizing that I’ll have to cut out so many chunks I love. For example, Stacey’s moving story about a Korean friend who was taught that her palate for wine would be ruined by eating too much kimchi.

It’s been painful trying to figure out the bits I think add character, but which others actually serve my overall narrative. After a night of snipping up the big chunks of the interviews, my Hindenburg clipboard is overflowing with audio clips titled things like: “Stacey cute,” “chicken sounds,” “’I know about pho,” and “chicken story.” So far, knitting these different sonic moments together has proved a difficult but rewarding process. 

—Lucy Stevems