Turn on the Food Network at any given moment, and you’re likely to see some toothy host in a kitchen the size of your apartment breezing through Julia Child-level dishes like it’s no big deal. Traditional food TV has its merits, but if you’re of the sort who breaks out in hives at the thought of boiling water, you need something that’s less formidable and more approachable–you need Eat Our Feelings.
Part sitcom, part cooking show, Eat Our Feelings follows the ups and downs and all the awkwardness in between of Sasha Winters and Emma Jane Gonzalez, BFFs who prove that food can fix just about any problem.
In each episode, there’s a cooking segment sandwiched in the middle of a narrative–but it isn’t jarring or out of place. Winters and Gonzalez, who write as well as star in the series, have created a unique structure that allows comedic storytelling and food TV to coexist seamlessly.
The ultimate goal for Winters and Gonzalez is to make Eat Our Feelings their full-time gig–their day jobs are waitress and chef, respectively–but right now, they’re focused on wrapping up season one and making plans to share their feelings and food with a bigger audience.
How did you two meet?
SASHA: We have a really close mutual friend, Adam Goldman, who directed some of the episodes, and he was always tellings us we should hang out and that we would be good friends.
EMMA: For years he was telling us about each other, so she was like a myth to me. I always thought she was really cool–I was a little intimated!
SASHA: I felt the same.
EMMA: I think part of it is we kinda built our friendship on this project.
SASHA: There’s a lot at stake!
What’s the inspiration behind Eat Our Feelings?
SASHA: Emma had done a couple of little webisodes with Adam called Eat My Feelings, which was like the little embryo [for Eat Our Feelings].
EMMA: Yeah, the zygote! But it wasn’t really a narrative–it was making a dish based on a feeling. So we were talking about what is it we want. We know food TV isn’t doing it for us. We know that what’s on TV right now is great, but it’s not all there is, and we felt we had something to add to the conversation. It’s always these women in blouses who live near the beach and they’re cooking for their husbands and their kitchen is all white except for a bowl of lemons.
How did you go from idea to implementation?
EMMA: It’s a pile of all the things that we like and bonded over, from food to entertainment. Sasha is an actor and a writer, and so it just made sense. We were both looking for projects and we both love food TV.
SASHA: Adam and I did a web series called The Outs two years back, and we had some minor success with it. So I think that put us more in the mindset of we can do this–it’s not some mythical idea. Emma and I got together and started writing, and then we set about stalking [executive producer] Doug Anderson. And then we started stalking David Turner, who’s our director of photography. And we were like, if we can get Dave and Doug on board, then this is actually a thing.
What’s your creative process as it pertains to food and story content? Which informs the other?
EMMA: It kind of depends on the episode, but I feel like the majority of them have been us talking about something we do or something that really irks us. We just like complaining, which is what we do in our free time. And then from there, one of us says something and then the other one laughs and it’s like, okay, that’s funny, let’s write it down. I think the recipes have come out of the situations for the most part.
When you say you pull from stuff that irks you, how true to life is the series? Is there really someone who sells grilled-cheese sandwiches from a duffel bag like in episode one?
EMMA: There was inspiration for that. In the summertime, when you walk around Williamsburg, there’s a guy who sells empanadas out of a duffel bag. And we were so grossed out by it! He walks around yelling, “Empanada! Empanada!” and people buy that shit.
SASHA: And we’re like, how are they buying this? It must be full of drugs.
EMMA: That’s honestly our thought process! It’s a sports duffel bag. It looks like he just got out of the gym, except instead of shoes, he’s got empanadas. So we just switched it to grilled-cheese sandwiches.
One thing that’s great about the series is the fact that it’s so accessible. What audience do you have in mind when you write your episodes?
EMMA: We both work in the world of food, but we feel like outsiders in that we’re total goobers. But there’s something about being able to laugh while you’re cooking. It doesn’t have to be serious. What you’re making doesn’t have to be perfect–you can be a sloppy person. You can be silly and weird and bad at all of these other things in life and still make a really lovely meal that is healthy and that you can share with people. All of those things can come together, and so we wanted to make something silly that took away the pretension. It’s intimidating to start cooking if you’ve never cooked before. And you’re like, these people on TV are so perfect. I don’t have a standing mixer and I don’t have knife skills–whatever it is. All these things that stand in the way between you and making good food, we just wanted to knock it down and be like, look, we can just fuck around and still make something good.”]
So what’s next for Eat Our Feelings? Network TV maybe?
SASHA: For us it’s less about web versus TV so much as it’s about finding a home and getting paid to make the show. We want there to be a big audience–we don’t want to make them for ourselves.
Is there a season two in the works?
SASHA: Not yet.
EMMA: We need to figure out our money sources.
SASHA: We’ve got a lot of ideas, though. It would be a real good season!
You were able to fund season one through Kickstarter–would you do it again for season two?
EMMA: We’ve been talking about it. Kickstarters are an undertaking. With Kickstarter, we raised the money, but then we both had to take weeks off of work. We didn’t have enough money that we could take home any of it.
SASHA: As long as we have day jobs, it’s tough, so that’s the goal: to make this our day jobs.