The Chef's Canvas Cookbook
While food may take a starring role in many museum pieces, art as inspiration for what we eat is not as common. What happens, however, when the role is reversed? What happens when chefs look to art to inspire their next culinary creation?
That question was posed by Hope McMath, director, and Holly Keris, chief curator, of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, who then approached Cari Sanchez-Potter about a project that would feature the Museum’s collection alongside recipes crafted by local chefs, similar to Cooking with Intuition authored by Sanchez-Potter and published for Intuition Ale Works.
With so many talented and creative chefs in the area, the selection process was challenging. “We did our best to include restaurants from different cuisines and styles of cooking, from fine-dining establishments like Salt at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island to bakeries and even food trucks,” said Sanchez-Potter. Besides the chefs, The Chef ’s Canvas will also feature all eight of the region’s craft breweries as well as five creative mixologists who each provided a cocktail recipe inspired by a 19th-century American still life painting.
The contributors were invited to the Cummer Museum for an informational session about the project, then allowed to wander through the Museum’s permanent collection to choose the three artworks that most inspired them for one reason or another.
The resulting book, The Chef’s Canvas: Recipes Inspired by the Collection of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, will be published early in 2016 and will showcase a singular intersection of art, gardens, food and drink.
“It was interesting to see which pieces spoke to different chefs, and what elements of the art they drew inspiration from. For some chefs, the colors and textures of certain paintings were what drew their attention. For others, the overall mood or style of certain works of art provided the creative spark,” said Sanchez-Potter. And what was the most surprising source of inspiration? Chef Waylon Rivers of Black Sheep Restaurant chose a Scottish chair. “We all wondered how he would trans- late a piece of furniture into a recipe,” said Sanchez-Potter. “The resulting Aged Duck Breast, Hay-Smoked Potatoes, Pickled Green Strawberries and Purslane, Rose Water Air has been one of our favorite interpretations so far.”
Feedback on the project has been overwhelmingly positive; the contributors have expressed how much they have enjoyed the creative process and to have an opportunity to think outside the box, to focus on aesthetics and art over ease of preparation to concoct dishes they wouldn’t normally serve. While the recipes may be a fun challenge for the home cook, the compilation will be a culinary masterpiece unique to Jacksonville and the Museum world at large.