Text by Erickson S. Blakney
Photography by Weston Wells
Who IS Alejandro Alcocer? Is he a chef, restauranteur, epicurean, locavore, design entrepreneur, or author? Alcocer rejects titles. He readily describes himself as a person with “little patience and restless energy,” adding that he is interested in many things. His roles in the world are as varied as the books gracing the shelves of his Lower East Side office filled with the furniture he designed and built himself. Alice Water’s Chez Panisse Cookbook sits comfortably next to the Big Book of Casseroles which rests against The Straw Bale House which leans on Indigenous African Architecture which is propped up by a collection of works by William Bulter Yeats. His company, Daydreamer Projects is a platform that allows him to indulge his varied creative interests. Daydreamer is comprised of several components. Green Catering and the Brown Café on Hester Street honor the idea of supporting local, sustainable harvests and the exercise of simple cooking with the best possible ingredients. Yellow is the Food Awareness Program launched in 2009 at PS12 in Queens. The curriculum, based on the Steiner model, aims to help kids understand where foods come from and help them to find their own palates. Forthcoming creative ventures include one in porcelain; he plans to create limited edition decorative pieces manufactured in the Netherlands, which he describes as “amorphous, reductionist objects.” Daydreamer also plans to relaunch a line of canvas and vegetable-tanned leather handbags and accessories made by local artisans and craftsmen.
Born in and raised in Mexico City, Alcocer says he was lucky enough to launch a business when he was 16 years old – distributing skateboards and publishing a skateboard magazine. The spoils of that success provided Alcocer with the means to travel and explore the world for 18 years. He says the places he traveled to were dictated by the people he met. “The more people I met, the more things that interested me, people inspire me in certain ways,” says Alcocer. Not surprisingly, the places he comfortably calls home areas varied as his roles. Alcocer spends about 6 months in New York where he has a 5-year-old son Joaquin Christobal. When the rest of the world beckons, you find him spiriting off to Berlin to see his other son, 9-year-old Constantin. Snowboarding in the Swiss Alps and surfing in Mexico are followed by the mystic festival in Mali. The festival is typically followed by visits with indigenous tribes of Africa that he has met over the years. And while others matching Alcocer’s level of success may be content to boast of membership at Brook, Century, Knickerbocker or even Soho House, Alcocer says that four years ago he was initiated by a tribe of pygmies in Central Africa – an ironic accomplishment for a man who towers comfortably above 6 feet. His path to Africa was unorthodox. When he was 22, Alcocer had an accident that landed him in coma for three months followed by complete memory loss. He says his whole healing process involved the use of alkaloids with different indigenous groups around the world. He observes, “It’s very interesting to me that there are these different fruits, or foods or seeds around the world, you know, that contain this informational wisdom and coming from the stand point of eating, it’s interesting that we take eating almost for granted and it should be such a special part of our life experience.” He is currently writing a book of short stories based on his experiences. As he spirits off from point to point, he naturally keeps the gear he totes refreshingly light. At all times he carries two basic Bic pens, one blue and one black. According to Alcocer, the blue pen is for his personal projects while the black is put to use when he’s signing something. “The black is kind of like the professional pen and the blue pen is like the creative pen,” he says. He uses his iPhone primarily as a camera and for emails. Most of his photos feature landscapes. He explains, “I’m very interested in how light changes throughout the day and in different places. “Alcocer rattles with a batch of keys. They hold access to three storefronts, an apartment, an office and a black Land Rover. A sleek Giorgio Fedon case of supple black leather plays host to Alcocer’s diminutive, simple yet artful business cards. A wallet keeps his cash and credit cards. A matte-black, vintage-steel Rolex styled by Alcocer helps him keep on schedule. He’s collected watches for more than 20 years, finding them intriguing from both a technological and mystical standpoint. ”I am interested in the concept of time and our fascination with trying to record it somehow when it is completely illusive,” he muses. In any case, legend has it that Rolex, in the 1960s, crafted a special edition of 500 black watches for the British soldiers who were in South Africa but the company never confirmed this which has generated immense interest in the watches. Alcocer decided to reproduce a limited edition series independent from Rolex with the assistance of a Pennsylvania-based company. And Alejandro Alcocer has smartly proven that ‘time is money’ as the Black Limited Edition is available at select retail outlets for $12,000-plus.