Who Is Sandorkraut?


My name is Sandor Ellix Katz, and I am a fermentation revivalist.


for The New York Times Magazine

(c) Catherine Opie 2015

My interest in fermentation grew out of my overlapping interests in cooking, nutrition and gardening. It started with sauerkraut. I found an old crock buried in our barn, harvested cabbage from our garden, chopped it up, salted it, and waited. That first kraut tasted so alive and powerfully nutritious! Its sharp flavor sent my salivary glands into a frenzy and got me hooked on fermentation. I have made sauerkraut ever since, earning the nickname Sandorkraut, even as my repertoire has expanded. I have explored and experimented widely in the realm of fermentation, and my mission with this website is to share information and resources, in order to encourage home fermentation experimentalists and propel more live-culture foods out into our culture.

I am a native of New York City, a graduate of Brown University, and a retired policy wonk. In 1993, I moved from New York City to Cannon County, Tennessee, where I am part of a vibrant extended community of queer folks (and many other friends and allies). I have AIDS and consider fermented foods to be an important part of my healing. (See AIDS Links below.)

Since 2003 when my book Wild Fermentation was published, I have taught hundreds of workshops demystifying fermentation and empowering people to reclaim this important transformational process in their kitchens. The New York Times calls me “one of the unlikely rock stars of the American food scene.” My latest book, The Art of Fermentation (2012), received a James Beard award and was a finalist at the International Association of Culinary Professionals. The Southern Foodways Alliance honored me with their Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award. I have presented workshops in most of the states of the U.S., as well as Mexico, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Belgium, Denmark, England, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Scotland, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, India, Hong Kong, and Japan. Venues have included universities, museums, libraries, farms, farmers’ markets, conferences, bookstores, festivals, and community spaces. Some highlights include:

ACRES USA Conference (MN & KY)

Ashevillage Institute (NC)

Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine (Ireland)

Basque Culinary Center (Spain)

Bastyr University (WA)

Birmingham Botanical Garden (AL)

Bioneers Conference (CA & MA)

Boston University (MA)

Brown University (RI)

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (NC)

Chef’s Collaborative (SC)

City University of New York Macaulay Honors College (NY)

Common Ground Fair (ME)

Concord Institute (UK)

Cornell University (NY)

Culinary Institute of America (NY)

Dalhousie University (Nova Scotia, Canada)

Eco-Farm Conference (CA)

The Evergreen State College (WA)

Food Craft Institute (CA)

Fuglebjerggaard (Denmark)

George Washington University (DC)

Georgia Institute of Technology (GA)

Georgia Organics Conference (GA)

Good Food Awards (CA)

Hampshire College (MA)

Harvard University (MA)

Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje (Costa Rica)

International Association of Culinary Professionals (CA)

Iowa State University (IA)

Ithaca College (NY)

John C. Campbell Folk School (NC)

Kickapoo Country Fair (WI)

Kunstnernes Hus (Norway)

MAD Food Symposium (Denmark)

Monticello Heritage Harvest Festival (VA)

Mother Earth News Fair (PA)

National Heirloom Exposition (CA)

National University of Natural Medicine (OR)

Native Seed SEARCH (AZ)

Natural Gourmet Institute (NY)

Navdanya (India)

New College of Florida (FL)

New York University (NY)

North American Bioregional Congress (TN)

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Norway)

Oberlin College (OH)

Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (CA)

Ohio University (OH)

Oregon Country Fair (OR)

Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery (UK)

Park Slope Food Coop (NY)

Philadelphia Free Library (PA)

Powell’s Books (OR)

Practical Farmers of Iowa (IA)

Prescott College (AZ)

River Cottage Food Fair (UK)

Schumacher College (UK)

Shelburne Farms (VT)

Simon Fraser University (BC)

Slow Food Nation (CA)

SolarFest (VT)

Southern Foodways Alliance (MS)

Sterling College (VT)

Studio for Urban Projects (CA)

University of Alaska Fairbanks (AK)

University of Arizona (AZ)

University of British Columbia (BC)

University of California at Berkeley, Los Angeles, and Santa Cruz (CA)

University of Gastronomic Science (Italy)

University of Missouri

University of North Carolina Asheville

University of the South (TN)

Vanderbilt University (TN)

University of Vermont

Western Washington University (WA)

Weston A. Price Foundation Conference (VA & CA)

Woodford Folk Festival (Australia)

Yale University (CT)


Watch this short video about me and my work:  http://www.nytimes.com/video/opinion/100000003819616/sandorkraut-a-pickle-maker.html?src=vidm

See my  YouTube videos at  http://www.youtube.com/user/sandorkraut

Read my interview with the ACT UP Oral History Project reflecting on AIDS Activism.


AIDS Links

I’ve been living with HIV since the 1980’s. There’s lots of information out there, as well as support resources. Here are a couple of excellent “portal” sites, linking to hundreds of information and networking resources.


Links to Sandorkraut’s friends’ and neighbors’ websites

Alan Muskat: The Mushroom Man.

Alicia Svigals: A brilliant violinist, linguist, and enthnomusicologist, Alicia is a founder of the Klezmatics.

Carol Queen: Sex activist extraordinaire.

Caroline Paquita : Womanimal World and more.

Crunch42: Julian is a web designer. He held my hand and answered my questions as I created my first website. His site has great information about creating your own website.

Dismal Ax: My friend Gwen’s handmade electric guitars crafted from salvaged and locally-harvested materials in nearby Dismal, TN.

Eggman: Trained by his mother in the Ukrainian art of eggshell-batik (pysanky), Paul Wirhun has taken this traditional practice in egg-citing new directions.

Firespeaking : Natural Building & Masonry Heaters from Max Edleson and Eva Rose Miller in Eugene, OR.

Frances Lefkowitz: A great writer.

Frank Cook: Frank and I frequently co-taught “Wild Foods and Fermentation” workshops. He was a devoted plant explorer, traveling the world seeking out plants and plant healers, with the goal of familiarizing himself with all the earth’s plant families. Frank died in 2009, but his website endures as a legacy of his life’s work.

Goatboy: A neighbor and friend with a passion for old self-playing musical instruments and many other arcane and bizarre interests.

Granite: A prolific and talented painter.

Hand Print Press : Small press specializing in DIY topics, founded by Kiko Denzer, author of the classic Build Your Own Earth Oven.

IDA: The “Queer Arts Community” down the road from us, where my beloved friends host the annual “Idapalooza Fruit Jam” music festival every September and many other fabulous events.

Jn. Ulrick Desert: A conceptual artist I met who lives in Berlin. His work is provocative and powerful.

kleiwerks: Janelle and Meka are inspirational teachers who make building with cob and other earthen materials easy and fun. Their site is full of great images of beautiful cob structures.

Kristas Cups: Krista distributes reusable menstrual cups, as well as the pee-style, a device which enables women to pee standing up.

Luna Parc: Ricky Boscarino is a creative genius. Luna Parc is his home and life’s work. Tour Luna Parc virtually here, and check out Ricky’s amazing jewelry.

Maine Fiber Arts: I enjoy knitting and in Maine, my home away from home, I’ve become friends with Christine Macchi, the tireless fiber arts networker who runs this organization.

Make/shift magazine creates and documents contemporary feminist culture and action by publishing journalism, critical analysis, and visual and text art. Made by an editorial collective committed to antiracist, transnational, and queer perspectives, make/shift embraces the multiple and shifting identities of feminist communities. We know there’s exciting work being done in various spaces and forms by people seriously and playfully resisting and creating alternatives to
systematic oppression. Make/shift exists to represent, participate in, critique, provoke, and inspire more of that good work.

Museum of Corporate Welfare and Advertisers Anonymous: Albo Jeavons is a quirky, subversive artist and activist.

Nephi Niven : Nephi is a photographer friend and this is his gorgeous website/portfolio.

Onnamove: My friend Onnamove’s artwork and writing

pinkiepoetry.com: David J. Pinkerton’s profound poetry. Pinkie is a cheesemaker, too.

RFD: A Queer Country Journal: The second oldest gay publication in the U.S. (since 1973), RFD is a reader-written journal published by a collective of my faerie friends and neighbors.

Samuel Lurie: Transgender Awareness Training and Advocacy

Seeds of Peace Collective:  Providing support and trainings to activists struggling on the front lines for social, environmental, and economic justice.

Stevee Postman: Extraordinary computer photo-manipulations.