by Owen Morris
By OWEN MORRIS
Stretch is a sculptor originally from Pennsylvania who came to Kansas City to study at the Art Institute and later decided to settle in here -- specifically the Crossroads District -- to build his large sculptures. He later opened Grinder's restaurant. I asked him what he eats when no one is looking.
"Years ago, when I didn't have a kitchen, I used to make hot dogs on nails. Hamburgers on an iron upside down in my vise. I used to cook soup and pasta in old coffee makers.
In the [Art Institute] dorms is where I really started to use interesting ways of cooking. I’d be like, that’s hot, that gets hot, what can we burn on there? We tried steaming things with steamers and vegetables and some of that really didn’t get hot enough. We turned used garbage disposals into margarita machines. There’s a lot of products you can modify and manipulate.
I'll probably get harassed by somebody for telling how to do this but with cooking hot dogs, you start by clipping the cord of your favorite lamp.
Obviously the lamp's unplugged at this point. Tie a couple nails to the copper wires. Eight-penny nails. I recommend not using galvanized nails; that would be detrimental. Slide the nails in through the two ends of the hot dog until they almost touch and plug it in. I wouldn’t hold it. The hot dog acts like a resistor and it cooks the hot dog in about eight seconds. It's quite the feat. It would probably light the lamp if you kept it attached, but you usually take it off completely.
With the hamburgers in an iron you get a store-bought iron -- standard issue at a thrift-stores -- and mount it upside down, make a little tin-foil boat and you can actually cook a hamburger on there. Afterward, you still got an iron for your clothes. Not that we had any clothes to iron.
For pasta and soup in coffee makers: Some of the old coffee makers used to have a heat-plate element in the bottom of it. While I lived in the dorms though you weren’t allowed to have cooking appliances. The crock-pot wasn’t allowed. You weren’t allowed hot plates. But I got one of those cool hot-plates from a science lab -- to get around the hot-plate ban -- and it had a rotating arm to spin chemicals. If you put soup on top of it and dropped a magnet in there, it would spin and stir the soup for you which was kind of cool.
We experimented a lot. Even at Grinders, they hate to see me because I’ll just start throwing stuff into the fryer and see how it turns out. I have my own restaurant because I never want to be a starving artist again and I never want my friends to starve."