So, Hawk. What’s your backstory, are you a native Philadelphian?
I grew up outside the city in Jenkintown and came to the city pretty often. Went to college in Brooklyn (Pratt) and lived there for a few years before moving back to Philly in 2001.
What’s your favorite part about the food scene in Philly?
When I first moved here, whether it was running good comics in the alt weeklies or putting sweetbreads on a restaurant menu, there was this idea with everything that “Philly’s not ready for that.. this isn’t New York..” but now it’s like the land of golden opportunity. So many of the people I’ve worked with over the last 10 years both art and food wise are opening their own restaurants and businesses and it’s just amazing to watch.
You’re a great illustrator. Do you have a background in art? How long have you been drawing food?
My parents are both artists so I was trained from birth, went to art school and have been illustrating for over ten years, at first mostly comics and humorous editorial illustration. I was working as a line cook and doing illustrations at night, and realized that combining the two would probably give me a better chance at making a real career out of it.
What’s your favorite thing to draw… aside from food?
What I really love and want to do more of is just crazy scenes of Philadelphia neighborhoods. Right before the hot dog thing took off I started working on a series of big illustrations of Citizens Bank Park and the Italian / Mexican / Asian market chock full of wild characters and chickens and beers flying though the air. Wing Bowl would be an awesome one for that too. I guess that”s sort of about food too though..
You seem to be quite the foodie, specifically hot dogs, what’s the story on that? How did you become such a fan of them?
I grew up near a short lived outpost of Levis’ Hot Dogs in Jenkintown that got me hooked on the fish cake combo thing, especially years later when i realized how unique it is. Also my parents were (and still are) big on combing small town Pennsylvania for old diners and abandoned amusement parks and checking out the local food was always a part of it. I’ve always loved all types of food – not just hoagies and hot dogs – and also worked as a line cook for 6 years.
The world of hot dogs just seems to have this stubbornly regional and individualistic spirit that keeps it interesting. Every small town with a crazy hot dog shack thinks it’s the best in the world, every place has a legend about their chili or relish recipe being won in a poker game in Detroit from an old Greek man. I like fancy restaurant food too but feel like there’s plenty of people writing about that already, although I wouldn’t be opposed to doing a giant painting of tripe & tongue from Han Dynasty or something..
This will probably be hard to answer, but what’s your absolute favorite hot dog (or other food if not hot dog)? Why?
No way can I pick one. I’ll just throw some out there.
Philly top dogs at the moment would be Scott Dogs (when he’s open), the NY-style dog at Famous 4th, The green truck at Oregon and Passyunk. Any of Hot Diggity‘s specials. Krakus Market in Port Richmond.
Thanks for chatting with us, Hawk. Looking forward to seeing more of your fantastic work both online and around town. For some of Hawk’s latest work, be sure to visit hawkkrall.blogspot.com. To shop for hot dog prints check out his print store he also has original art for sale.