Chris Cosentino does offal well in the kitchen. Not awful, but offal, meaning preparing and delivering haute cuisine featuring the parts of an animal that fall off when its butchered, including the entrails, all abdominal organs and extremities such as tail, feet and head (brains and tongue).
It’s obviously not everyone’s thing, but certainly sounds like the type of dish Wolverine wouldn’t mind snikting his adamantium claws into.And that’s exactly what’s happens when the Top Chef Master and Logan team-up for Marvel Comics’ “Wolverine: In the Flesh.”
Featuring a cover by Tim Seeley of “Hack/Slash” fame, “Wolverine: In the Flesh” #1 marks Cosentino’s comic book writing debut while Dalibor Talajic, who is currently illustrating Jeff Lindsay’s “Dexter,” provides interiors.
CBR News connected with the long-time X-Men fan who revealed that his Wolverine story is set in San Francisco, CA – the home of Incanto where he serves as Executive Chef. Cosentino also shared his thoughts on his new line of knives from Shun Cutlery, what he’d serve Logan if the longtime X-Man dined at Incanto and his hope for more food-themed comics.
CBR News: Let’s start with the basics — how did this project come about?
Chris Cosentino: Did I ever expect in my life that I would be writing comic books? No. Did I read comic books for a long time as a kid? Yes. Do I still follow Wolverine and the X-Men? Yes. But it was never something that I ever anticipated to happen. I met [Marvel Comics talent scout] C.B. [Cebulski] through Twitter, he came into the restaurant and it all spun out from that encounter.
Was Wolverine offered to you or was it the sort of thing where you came up with a concept and a character that worked for you?
The original idea was to have the restaurant, as a place where Wolverine goes in and eats, and me drawn into the issue. That didn’t happen, and C.B. said, “Do you want to write one?” And I was like, “Yes. Of course.”
The concept of the issue is mine. I wrote it in one evening, from midnight ’til 6AM.
It’s a one-shot, so obviously you can’t give too much away but what can you tell us about the story?
Who said it’s a one-shot?
Sorry, that’s how I thought it was solicited, and you just mentioned a single issue —
I think you’re jumping the proverbial gun. [Laughs] You have to talk to C.B., but the whole story is based in San Francisco. There is definitely a lot of San Francisco culture throughout the book. There are murders happening throughout San Francisco and Wolverine is asked to quell this problem. And I get looped into the mix due to my culinary experience.
Are the murder victims restauranteurs? Or people dining at your restaurant?
I can’t give the whole story away!
Is the character featured as Wolverine and Logan or predominantly Wolverine as teased on the cover?
He’s Logan throughout the whole thing.
Does that keep the story grounded in reality?
Do we see anyone else from the X-Men or the Marvel U.?
For right now, it’s strictly Logan.
I’m not sure what his favorite meal is, but if Wolverine came into your restaurant what would you recommend?
I think that depends on the mood that he’s in. And if you really think about it, how long has Wolverine been around? How many different places has he lived? He’s lived in Japan, Germany, all throughout Europe, all throughout the Americas… so it just depends on what he’s looking for. It could be venison, or he could be looking for the perfect plate of sashimi.
Someone sent me a really great video of Wolverine slicing salami! [Laughs] Just him and his claws making a sandwich. He can be rough and tumble with a cigar and hoagie, or very refined. I think there is definitely a very wide variation of what Wolverine eats and what people might perceive him to eat. And for me, that’s what so great about him.
You’re known as master of offal cuisine, which sounds like something that may be right up Logan’s alley.
I think it totally is. He spent time in Canada and throughout Europe, and offal cuisine is part of all those cultures. I definitely see it being a part of his everyday. He’s a hunter. It’s pretty obvious that cuts of meat in that fashion is part of what Wolverine is.
Now, you don’t have adamantium claws — you have to use knives like the rest of us. Do you think you could put Wolverine-like claws to good use in the kitchen if you did have the opportunity?
I think it would be pretty easy to work them into my routine. [Laughs] Isn’t that the goal of everybody’s knives, to make that knife become an extension of your hand? If it was actually a part of me, I think it would make for a really great day at work.
What about your weapons of choice? You’re ready for action on the cover, wielding a cleaver and a knife.
I use Shun knives, which is a producer from Japan. I actually have a line of knives that just came out through them called Shun Blue. There are four different knives and they just came out in May. That’s all I use is Shun. But the Blue line, in particular, is what I use.
Are they featured in the comic?
Not so much. You’ll see them, but it’s not a major component of the story.
Do you see similarities between comic fans and folks with a passion for food?
I think comic book fans and those that are enamored by the food industry are very similar. They are very passionate and they stand behind what they believe in, be it a restaurant or a character in a comic book, whether it be X-Men, Wolverine or Spider-Man. People stand by them. They are so passionate about these characters, and I think it’s the same thing about restaurants. They’re passionate about their food, they’re passionate about where it’s from and I think that, in itself, crosses over. That passion. That love of whatever it is. Some people call food “art.” And some people look at comics in the same way.
There is definitely a crossover. You see at Comic-Con, especially in San Diego, you see a lot of themed dinners. Whether it’s at a brewery in San Diego or, I know they were doing special dinners with authors and artists at the Girl & the Goat and The Publican in Chicago. It really melds together really well.
Look at Oishinbo [cooking manga]. It’s a perfect example of crossing the cultures. The question is, when are we going to have that same Oishinbo-style food comic done in the United States?
We’ve already got “Get Jiro!” from Anthony Bourdain, and now we have “Wolverine: In the Flesh.” Maybe it’s coming?
I hope so. One day at a time! [Laughs]
A big part of being a chef is the final presentation of your dish. What did you think of seeing yourself drawn as a comic book character by Dalibo Talajic?
I didn’t really know what to expect. I never thought I’d see myself in comic book form. It’s a little odd, but it’s definitely interesting seeing other people’s visions of what I look like. And it’s all fun.
Dalibor did a great job. I’m really ecstatic with how he put it all together. It just feels right, and the book looks great.
Finally, this is a big summer for Wolverine. He’s teaming up with you in “In the Flesh,” but he’s also featured in another blockbuster movie starring Hugh Jackman. Are you excited to check that out?
I think there couldn’t have been a better choice for “The Wolverine” than Hugh Jackman. He really fits the role, and I am really looking forward to seeing the new movie, very much so.
“Wolverine: In the Flesh” #1, written by Chris Cosentino and featuring art by Dalibor Talajic, is in stores this Wednesday, August 31.
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