CUISINE, ART, COCKTAILS
Celebrating Contemporary Cincinnati
Great food. Great art. Tremendous talent. The Cincinnati region enjoys both in abundance. Now the Contemporary Arts Center is exploring the interplay between the visual and culinary arts in a lusciously illustrated book, “Cuisine, Art, Cocktails: Celebrating Contemporary Cincinnati.”
The oversized book features the responses of 26 of Greater Cincinnati’s best-known chefs, four mixologists, and a sommelier to the works of artists featured recently at the CAC. Those responses are in the form of words as well as recipes designed specifically for this project. Tying it all together is the sumptuous photography of Gina Weathersby, an award-winning artist in her own right.
“While the city has always prided itself on being a haven for the culinary connoisseur, the explosion of celebrated restaurants in recent years has turned it into a universe of extravagantly fine food experiences,” said Raphaela Platow, director of the CAC. “This book reflects the creativity, nourishment, and sense of community that are central to the identity of both the CAC and the businesses of the extraordinarily gifted chefs, pastry chefs, mixologists, restaurateurs, and sommeliers represented on these beautifully illustrated pages.”
The concept for the project began with a group of the CAC’s volunteer docents, meeting to discuss fundraising ideas to benefit the Education Department. The notion of producing a cookbook soon arose. Rather than simply approach chefs for recipes, the group asked them to design a dish inspired by their reaction to a work or artist featured recently at the CAC.
“We thought it would be a tricky sell, but our friends in the culinary world loved the idea,” said Maria Kalomenidou, a CAC board member and docent who helped spearhead the project. “It was fascinating to see how warmly – and how astutely – our chefs and mixologists responded to the art and artists they’d seen,” she said.
Cuisine, Art, Cocktails: Celebrating Contemporary Cincinnati includes such entries as:
- Nathan Sheatzley, executive chef at the CincinnatianHotel and Palace Restaurant, discussing a vibrant 2008 hand-colored silkscreen triptych by Pat Steir, then creating a dish built around beets that calls out the lines of color that chefs often use when plating dishes in their kitchens.
- Daniel Hammer, Vice President of Deli/Bakery merchandising andCulinary Development for The Kroger Co. (and a native of Switzerland who attended its Swiss Hotel School), who developed a monkfish and mushrooms-based recipe in response to the CAC’s 2014–15 CAC exhibition “The One-Eyed Thief” by Swiss artist/photographers Taiyo Onorato andNico Krebs.
- David Cook, the owner and operator of Daveed’s, Daveed’s NextRestaurant, and Daveed’s Catering, with a fascinating take on Robert Mapplethorpe’s Calla Lily (a flower featured in his wedding) and a dessert dish featuring meringues, vanilla custard sauce and passionfruit saffron soup.
- Molly Wellmann, co-owner of TheFamous Neons Unplugged, Japps Since 1879, The Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar, Myrtle’s Punch House, and Melt and Picnic and Pantry, discussing the work of beloved Cincinnati artist Charley Harper and then presenting a gin-based drink that combines pear, maple syrup and other ingredients.
Jaime L.M. Thompson, Curator of Education for the CAC, served as overall manager for the project and drew on the considerable resources of the CAC staff. In addition to raising funds for the project, Kalomenidou supervised the design of the book. In addition “Cuisine, Art, Cocktails: Celebrating Contemporary Cincinnati.” came to life through the lens photography of Gina Weathersby. Page after page is filled with arresting images of plated dishes and ingredients, along with portraits of the chefs and mixologists who contributed to the project. Each contribution includes a photo and narrative concerning the artwork/artists that gave rise to the recipe.
This is not the first time that the CAC has combined the topics of contemporary art and food. In the 1970s, the CAC hosted Eat Art, an exhibition on contemporary artists’ interest in food as media and as subject matter. More recently it featured the exhibition Green Acres, which focused on the environmental impact of food production.
A gala celebrating the publication of “Cuisine, Art, Cocktails: Celebrating Contemporary Cincinnati” will be held August 26, 2016 at the Contemporary Arts Center. The following chefs and mixologists will be preparing food and drink:
Julie Francis - Nectar
Frances Kroner - Sleepy Bee
Dave Taylor - Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse
Brandon Fortener - Kroger
Jared Bennett - Metropole
Danny Combs - Sotto
David Cook - Daveed's
Renee Schuler - EatWell
Lance Bowman - Django
Jennifer Watts - Japp's
Molly Wellmann - Japp's
Steven Clement - Salazar
The event begins at 6:30p.m.; tickets are available at www.contemporaryartscenter.org
The book will be on sale at the CAC bookstore, and a select bookstores in Cincinnati the first week of August. Proceeds will support the Contemporary Art Center’s Education Department.
For more information please contact Regina Carswell Russo, Chief of Communications for the CAC