AbraCollabora!

Some of the most fun and creative stuff we do is in collaboration with other artists, chefs, cooks, farmers and producers, talkers, shakers and movers, musicians, used car salesman or various streetwalking schizophrenics.  If you’ve got an absolutely insane idea that has no reason to exist beyond art, a good time or a spectacle, let’s make it happen!

This was the case a couple weeks ago at Links Hall’s THAW benefit.   In the lead-up to the event we found ourselves in contact with Chicago artist Erik L. Peterson who sent us this drawing:

This was his vision for a “Neapolitan Ice Cream Excavation Site” he wanted to create for the event.  Hey, why not?  It’s not the craziest idea we’ve ever heard.  So, we collected 27 gallons of Neapolitan ice cream, dry ice, wheat grass and “dirt” (chocolate cookies and Mama’s Nuts! Mocha Stout Almonds), and a stage to support it all and built the thing.  It was delicious, actually, and people couldn’t believe it when he started scooping the Earth out into tasty ice cream cones.

We also collaborated with artist Jennifer Mills.  Let’s just say, she’s got a thing for cheeseburgers.  It was her idea to roll around the event in a giant cheeseburger costume on roller skates serving guests food that tasted like cheeseburgers, but wasn’t.  Exactly how do you say “No” to that?  So, we fashioned the (completely vegan) cheeseburger:  Rice chip, pickle, onion, smoked prune, “Thousand Island” dressing, lettuce and a vegan “Cheese Sauce”.  And then we just let the rolling cheeseburger do her thing.

The high point of that (besides watching a 6-foot tall cheeseburger rolling around all night on wheels) was when one of our vegetarian guests spit it out because it tasted so much like a Burger King Whopper.

It’s not all just about doing whacked-out crazy stuff though, either.  By working with other artists you can create a multifaceted experience that resonates on many levels.  You’re now eating and interacting with the art.  The meal is a performance and a spectacle beyond simply being tasty and nourishing.  Together, we’ve created something that appeals to the mind, body and all of your senses and hopefully creates something that others appreciate having seen, experienced or been a part of.

This last point is something that we’ve always believed in and it comes through even in our “normal” dinners, which have always been meeting places for likeminded folks to gather and savor together.  We create the environment and the menu, and that becomes the platform for the guests to provide the energy and engagement.  And this is more in the style of our next collaboration:  On April 5th we’ll be working with J.C. Steinbrunner of The Salon Series and J.C. Gabel of The Chicagoan to create a true Salon-style occasion.  An evening of conversation on community and literature moderated by Misters Gabel and Steinbrunner, with a menu inspired by the inaugural issue of The Chicagoan –a non-profit media outlet focused on the culture and arts of Chicago and the Midwest.

We’re excited to be involved in this very special evening and we will post the menu in a few days.  So, here’s to a collaboration we and our guests will all hopefully remember as a complete experience where we came together to feed our minds, bodies and whatever powerful thing it is inside of us that responds to art.

Chow,

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