Robert, Photo

Author: Robert Dove McClellan, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1940, is a cook, a singer, a poet, a social change activist, an advocate for seniors and persons with disabilities, and a religious historian.  He has spent a significant amount of his life working for justice and peace.

This book—A Dance in the Kitchen: Joyful World Cooking, follows ten years after his first work:  The Cooking Book: A Dance in the Kitchen, and continues his belief that food preparation is a sacred act but one with infinite variety.  It looks at the history of food and the politics of food, explores vegan substitutions, alternative preparation methods, variations on themes, and a host of recipes which merge the cuisines of the world.   In the earlier part of his adult life, he cooked in restaurants and institutions, as well as operating his own catering business.  He published a serious whimsy, Interviews with Santa Claus in 2008, about true giving.  A Sense of Our Space, published in 2009, deals with both our living and working environment, including issues of use, storage, safety and even major renovations, based on his experience of more than 40 years redesigning kitchens, offices, conference centers, and private homes.   His book of poems, The Circle is Cast, was published in 2014.  All the while, he has been working on a larger project, IN SEARCH OF MEANING, A Religious History of Our Interconnectedness, which explores the relevance of various religious traditions for our present time by a multi-disciplinary examination of those traditions.  He hopes that will be in print in the next year.

He has a daughter, now grown with children of her own, and has been like a parent for many more.  He was instrumental, with many others, in organizing Movement for a New Society, an international group of people which for 18 years trained and organized literally thousands of people from all over the world for nonviolent social change.  He has officiated at weddings of people from different faiths, run workshops on nonviolence, been a peacekeeper at numerous demonstrations and rallies, and counseled people in military service. After more than 20 years with the American Friends Service Committee, he retired in 2008 in order to be able to both sing and write more.

His relationship with cooking food began with his grandmother when he was a youngster.  It continued, in part, because he recognized that it was important to have a skill which would always be useful; even in bad economic times, people need to eat something.  It got him through college and even after, usually as supplemental income.  As an art form, cooking gives you immediate satisfaction in the form of feedback; people eat what you have made and react.  Often, especially in catering, you find out right away, ‘cause you’re standing right there.  Professional cooking is usually a collective art, not done in isolation or even alone.  At home it may be a different matter.   Knowing how to cook is very handy when hundreds of demonstrators or seminar participants need to be fed.  Simply knowing how to deal with leftovers is a very valuable skill.  Food and cooking it, bring together issues of justice, peace and community.  Of necessity, it looks at issues of health, happiness and the ability to function well.  It brings together art and science.  It has a history and a political context.  And it is immediate, in the sense that you don’t cook something and hang it on a wall; it is eaten usually fairly soon after it is produced.  It is temporary and therefore has to be done again and again, always by its very nature, a little different each time.  Cooking itself requires fusion thinking.

Here’s an interview by Merrimack Media’s Jenny Hudson:

Collaborators, Lisa Wexler

Art:  Lisa Wexler has created art from an early age. She began using crayons, scissors, paper and paint at the age of four. She discovered colored pencils and design when she was seven. At twelve she started drawing with a passion.

Lisa attended Massachusetts College of Art at 19. She spent a decade in the Commercial art field in the Boston area. In 1997 she began designing and creating fabric wall hangings, quilts and some clothing. She also created clay sculptures.  Lisa has photographed people, landscapes and objects for over 30 years. She took her first black and white photos of people in Harvard Square at the age of 12.

Lisa attended Lesley University in 1989-1991 and studied Expressive Therapy. In 1995 she attended Simmons School of Social Work and received a Masters in Social Work in 2001. She has worked with children in Boston, Chelsea, Revere and Cambridge integrating the arts into individual and group work.

Lisa has worked at The Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for the Aged in Roslindale, MA, a local hospice, and at CASPAR in Somerville MA with recovering addicts. More recently, she worked at Hale House in Boston, a home for seniors and people with disabilities, as the Activities Director. At the present time Lisa is working as a Personal Care Assistant. She is on the Tenant Council at a large Cambridge Housing Authority residence for seniors and people with disabilities.

Along with making art for this cookbook, Lisa has been writing music and performing at local Open Mics in the area. She has written music for 40 years. Lisa enjoys being with family and friends, singing in an Intergenerational Chorus and doing yoga at a gym in Arlington.

Julian Cooking, II

Assisting: Julian Fischer Frank, adopted from Bottom Bong, Cambodia, now lives with his family in Amherst, Massachusetts. He graduated from the Ottoson Middle School and Thompson Elementary school in Arlington, MA.  He plays soccer with his high school team in Amherst and is active in track and field as well.

One of his pursuits in life is to be an architect, which is heavily inspired by art. His freshman year of high school he took an advanced art class.  He loves to be outdoors when he can, and participates in the Teen Wilderness Program held by the Appalachian Mountain Club. He loves to sail at Community Boating in Boston during times in the summer when he is not at various camps.

Robert was the first person to step up to the plate to teach him how to cook. He agreed to take Julian in every Wednesday for a year.  They started with knife skills and ended with a party, catered by themselves.  Robert then invited Julian to assist him on the sequel to the cookbook he wrote ten years ago.   Not only did Julian agree to help test recipes, he also provided the artwork for the  cover of the book. He hopes you enjoy the result of their efforts.      


Rowan Cooking, I

Apprenticing: Rowan Marcus, adopted from Russia at the age of 3, is a 9th grader at Malden High School. His foodie mom inspired and taught him how to love food. Rowan enjoyed working on recipes for this cookbook and eating the results with Robert. When he’s not working on school and food related endeavors, he is working towards his career as a computer systems expert, something which has enthralled him since he was 6 years old.

Collaborators, Linda AndrewsPhotographer and Proofreader:  Linda Andrews, a Massachusetts native, grew up in a large family, next door to her maternal grandmother in house without a television.   It was in this house next-door where she learned to bake on Saturday mornings, while her siblings watched cartoons which bored her.  A deep, abiding love & passion for baking developed next to her grandmother who characteristically showed much patience with her.  Years of deeply emotionally rewarding experiences grew from these weekly tutorials at her Gramma’s side.

Linda was given the opportunity to cook at home and learn by experience how to create food “which worked” from the planning to the execution.   Being the fifth of six children, she was given free-range from planning & shopping to cooking in exchange for cleaning-up and she figured that was a great deal!   Thus was born a baker and cook with a desire to try new things!   She has a natural flair for detail and volunteered to proof read this book. She was also called upon, usually with no notice, to come photograph something usually still warm.   She didn’t mind because that gave her an opportunity to taste the food, “sometimes begging for more than a taste!”