Many chefs use great works of art as inspiration for their dishes — a talented chef plays with color, arrangement and texture when plating their creation not unlike a painter regarding a canvas — but what if the original artist stood at their shoulder while they did it?
For the second year in a row, Chef Louis DiBiccari is bringing together six local chefs and six local artists for Create 2, a competition that challenges the chefs to create a dish based on the work of the artist they’re paired with. The event proved a huge, strange, hilarious and dynamic success last time around and DiBiccari has high hopes for this year’s challengers.
"What you have to respect is the process, and what it takes to yield special results," says one such challenger, Alden & Harlow chef Michael Scelfo, who will be paired with mural artist Brian Gordon (catch his work on display at Inman Square’s Puritan & Co., Toro and Stir), when asked how much art factors as inspiration into most of his dishes. "Brian Gordon and myself have stepped out of the box with this pairing. Instead of food inspired by his work, we are creating a living environment that incorporates the guest, the food, and the room into one expression of him and myself. Wrap your head around that one!"
The original inspiration for Create was a direct result of the migration of the artist community in Fort Point — largely regarded as the great arts district of the city — to less expensive climes. When the neighborhood began sprouting those beautiful brick lofts we all stare up at in envy, the painters, sculptors and graffiti artists who once called the area home did the same — and then departed, since staying and paying the sky-rocketing rent put them in jeopardy of becoming actual starving artists. DiBiccari (who pays tribute to his sculptor uncle with a mural from Fort Point’s Project Super Friends on a wall of Tavern Road) wants to bring them back. So, in a show of solidarity, the event benefits the Fort Point Artists Community.
“It feels like there is a cultural imbalance in Boston at times,” he explains. “Create is designed to celebrate many forms of art in the same space.”
Does that mean that he considers cooking an art form? Many chefs shy away from the classification, but DiBiccari agrees that there are some similarities.
“I’ve always seen it as a trade or a craft, but I do understand how it can live amongst the arts,” he says. “There is such a massive creative element to it. Create is about realizing the synergy between chefs and artists. We all work on different types of canvases.”
Scelfo is similarly excited for that synergy. "I love the idea of connecting with creative people on any level," he says. "Louis is very skilled in events and knew the right artist for me to be with, and collaboration on any level is fantastic. I have the utmost respect for people who know that talent and creation is what makes this stuff tick."
For the remaining pairings, Jason Cheek and Jade Taylor of Supper Y’all will join forces with Regeneration tattoo artist Edwin Marquez; Citizen Public House's Brian Young with painter Mike Hammecker; Alex Crabb of Asta will pair with !ND!V!DUALS Collective (who stole the show last year with a display of monsters taking over a restaurant and serving the guests as food!); B & G Oysters’ Steven “Panda” Oxaal will collaborate with graffiti artist Kevin Stanton; and, lastly, the high priestess of kick-your-bum Chinese food, Myers & Changs’ Karen Akunowicz, will pair up with muralist/painter/sculptor Nick Z.
Plus, Red Sox DJ TJ Connelly will be on hand spinning the jams to eat to and mixologists Ezra Starr (of Drink) and Ran Duan (of Sichuan Garden) will be creating their own liquid art.
“How great would it be if we could consider [artists] on a level playing field with our restaurants, sports teams, actors, or universities?” DiBiccari muses. “I hope Create helps showcase the incredibly talented artists we have in our own backyard.”
If You Go
Sunday, June 2nd from 2 p.m.-5 p.m.
Boston Center for Adult Education
122 Arlington St., Boston
$65; $55 advance; $40 students