MT: I love this question! Ice cream is my favorite food group. The flavor that I could probably eat every day forever is mint chocolate chip. I would count Ben and Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie in the general category of 'mint chocolate chip', in case anyone wanted to get me something nice. One time, I tried an incredibly flavorful and nuanced chocolate ice cream that was made with chocolate brought back by a pastry chef who'd traveled to a distant chocolate-growing land, and it drove home how the quality of an ingredient can make a huge difference in the outcome of a recipe. Also, I once made a porcini mushroom ice cream that was earthy and weird; which makes it my favorite of the ice creams I've made.
KLC: Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever traveled to and what was so cool about it?
MT: Cameroon. I went there in 2012 to research a play, and although I'd considered myself an experienced traveler up to that point, it was yet different and more adventurous and more eye/mind/heart-opening than anywhere else I'd been. (Is it strange that my response to this question is much shorter than my response to the ice cream question?)
KLC: Name one movie you can quote and then quote it.
MT: The English Patient: "It's a very plum plum."
KLC: Pick one: Eleanor Roosevelt, Angela Davis, or Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
MT: Sirleaf. They're all accomplished and deeply interesting women. I chose the international one.
KLC: The United States electoral process is _______________________.
MT: Not ideal, but that is no excuse not to vote. I have a feeling that the audience for this blog are active registered voters, so I will not get into my frustrations with people who take their ability to vote for granted.
KLC: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done to get someone’s attention?
MT: The strangest....hmm. I suppose the strangest is tell them I was in love with them.
KLC: If you had the opportunity to patent a brand new product, what might that be?
MT: Some clever mechanism--a chip? a pill?--that would allow a person to 'download' a book instantly so that all of its contents would be known/understood by that person as if that person had read it.
KLC: Which of the following is least likely to ever exist: bigfoot, elves, or government regulation on Wall Street?
MT: Elves, because there is actually some evidence (though scant) of the other two.
KLC: Wild card question! If you have a signature dish that no one makes better than you, tell us what is and tell us the secret ingredient. (Hint: you may lie.)
MT: Oh man, I don't think I have a signature dish...but here's something: I once asked how they make the chocolate mousse at Buvette and they said they used whipped butter. I don't know if butter counts as a secret ingredient, but it's a damn tasty one (for mousse and so many other things).
KLC: Can you share something about yourself that no one has ever asked you about in an interview before?
MT: I can make a sound like a pigeon very convincingly.
About Melisa Tien:
Born in San Francisco and raised in the L.A. suburbs, I took piano lessons grudgingly and snuck into movie theaters often. I used to sit on the shag-carpeted floor of my mom’s study at 5:00 AM and scratch out stories in pencil with my brother before we got ready for school. I wrote my first play when I was ten years old: a sitcom-inspired adaptation of Medea. Life events that have influenced me include: my parents’ divorce, the Northridge earthquake, nearly drowning a couple of times, being in a car that flipped upside down, living in New York, traveling to Cameroon to research a play, and traveling to Taiwan and discovering family I never knew I had. I speak English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, a little French, and a little Taiwanese. I went to culinary school after I got my MFA so I speak the language of food, too. I’m about to start my second year as a resident playwright at New Dramatists, I’m a 2016 resident at MacDowell, a 2016 NYFA Fellow, and recipient of a 2016 Visionary Playwrights award/commission from Theater Masters. With every play I attempt to make formally groundbreaking, socially relevant, and emotionally engaging work.