How Michelin-Starred Chefs Turn Artworks into Dishes

I love food and I love art. So when these chefs turn artwork into dishes, it's quite amazing!

How do you like to appreciate art? Some savor it through the eyes, while others consume it through the stomachs. LANDMARK’s Be Inspired in Central campaign in Hong Kong suggests you to do both. Through March 31, Be Inspired in Central merges food and art in The Artful Palate by inviting 10 top chefs to interpret one of the artworks by renowned Western, Chinese and Hong Kong artists in the “Take Another View on Art” exhibition. See how three Michelin-starred chef Umberto Bombana of 8½ Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA and Richard Ekkebus of Amber take on Marc Chagall and Claude Monet, among others, as they turn masterpieces into delectable dishes.

David Alves (Executive Chef of L’ATELIER de Joël Robuchon)
INSPIRATION Zao Wou-Ki, 07.06.63 (1963), Oil on Canvas, de Sarthe Gallery

Zao Wou-Ki’s 07.06.63 (Photo credit: ©Zao Wou-Ki - ProLitteris, Zurich Courtesy de Sarthe Gallery)
Zao Wou-Ki’s 07.06.63 (Photo credit: ©Zao Wou-Ki – ProLitteris, Zurich Courtesy de Sarthe Gallery)
As one of the most recognized Chinese artists who settled in Paris after World War II, Zao Wou-Ki helped shape avant-garde art in post-war Europe with pieces that merge European aesthetics with Chinese ink. He created 07.06.63 during the height of his career, boldly dividing the canvas with swaths of turquoise, purple, black and white, and layering the pigments to create an energetic space that flows from right to left of the composition.
DISH Le Bar (Sea Bass Served With Seasonal Black Truffle, Celery Mousseline and Malabar Pepper Sauce)
Chef David Alves’ dish (Photo credit: ©Andrew Loiterton)
Chef David Alves’ dish (Photo credit: ©Andrew Loiterton)

Taking up the challenge of bringing Zao’s artistry to the dining table, Chef David Alves put himself in the artist’s position and sought to transcribe the same intensity and emotion. But it wasn’t easy. It took Alves two weeks to create this dish. “I was especially drawn to the mysterious feeling of the painting through its dark colors. The bold purple and blue brushstrokes inspired me to use sea bass, seasonal black truffle, celery mousseline and Malabar pepper sauce,” said Alves. In recognizing the similarities between fine and culinary arts, Alves compared his use of ingredients to Zao’s use of colors. “As a chef, I can deliver a message through the presentation and taste of the dish,” he said.

Umberto Bombana (Chef of 8½ Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA)
INSPIRATION Marc Chagall, Les Fleurs Devant La Fenêtre à Paris(1976), Watercolor, Gouache, Pastel and Colored Wax Crayon, Opera Gallery
Marc Chagall’s Les fleurs devant la fenêtre à Paris (Photo credit: © Opera Gallery)
Marc Chagall’s Les fleurs devant la fenêtre à Paris (Photo credit: © Opera Gallery)
Marc Chagall is a master of Modernism who painted with an intuitive sense of color and composition. As the perennial theme in his art, flowers have been attributed to his beloved wife, Bella since the early 1920s. Chagall expressed his affection for his late wife (who passed away in 1944) through the lovers depicted on the right of Les fleurs devant la fenêtre à Paris, showcasing his belief that their bond would remain eternal.
DISH King Crab and Calvisius Elite Caviar, Couscous and Vegetables Salad, Citrus and Fennel Dressing
Chef Umberto Bombana’s dish (Photo credit: ©Andrew Loiterton)
Chef Umberto Bombana’s dish (Photo credit: ©Andrew Loiterton)

After reviewing his idol’s work, “The King of White Truffles” Umberto Bombana knew he wanted to pay tribute to Chagall’s colorful palette and love of nature. Using the artist’s palette as the starting point, Bombana composed a dish with a vibrant display of king crab and calvisius tradition elite caviar as the “vase,” bursting with a bouquet-like couscous, citrus and fennel dressing. His rendering went beyond Chagall’s visual expression, as he brought nature from Les fleurs devant la fenêtre à Paris to life with flavors that are pleasing and light to the taste.

Richard Ekkebus (Culinary Director of Amber)
INSPIRATION Claude Monet, Entrée de Giverny en Hiver, Soleil Couchant (1885), Oil on Canvas, Christie’s
Claude Monet’s Entrée de Giverny en hiver, soleil couchant. (Photo credit: ©Christie’s Images Ltd. 2015)
Claude Monet’s Entrée de Giverny en hiver, soleil couchant. (Photo credit: ©Christie’s Images Ltd. 2015)
With the ability to turn the most humble surroundings into poetic sceneries, Claude Monet expressed his taste for strong atmospheric effects such as the cold, rigid and grey appearance of the countryside in winter encountering the warm, pervasive red light of a sunset inEntrée de Giverny en hiver, soleil couchant.
DISH Sayori Fish Served Raw with Sansho, Kiwi, and Hass Avocado Ficoïde Glaciale and Puffed Crispy Red Camarque Rice

When Chef Richard Ekkebus saw his inspiration, the first thing he did was to discover parallels within Monet and Amber’s DNA. Monet was a French painter who was greatly influenced by Dutch landscape painter (and one of the forerunners of Impressionism) Johan Jongkind, while Ekkebus is a Dutch chef who learned mostly from French master chefs. Both took inspiration from the Japanese—Japanese block paintings for Monet and cooking ideas and ingredients from the Japanese market for Amber.
Chef Richard Ekkebus’ dish (Photo credit: ©Andrew Loiterton)
Chef Richard Ekkebus’ dish (Photo credit: ©Andrew Loiterton)
But there are also differences. Although the wintry landscape in the painting and the fact that Monet created a cookbook filled with traditionally rich French dishes could call for a heavy dish as interpretation, Ekkebus decided to go light. After all, spring is here and “Amber is known for its lightness in its culinary approach, so it’s important to maintain the integrity of the restaurant,” said Ekkebus. Wanting to recreate the impression of Monet’s beautiful garden paintings, the Amber chef complemented the greens with a Japanese fish ‘Sayori’ at its fattiest point. And like Monet who tastefully blended warm with cold tones, Ekkebus balanced the fattiness of the ‘Sayori’ fish with the acidity of the Japanese kiwi.

Kelvin Wong (Head Chef of The Square)
INSPIRATION Zhu Jinshi, Boat (2012), Walk-In Installation of Bamboo, Cotton and Over 12,000 Sheets of Xuan (Rice), Pearl Lam Galleries
Zhu Jinshi's Boat (Photo credit: ©Pearl Lam Galleries)
Zhu Jinshi’s Boat (Photo credit: ©Pearl Lam Galleries)

Boat is leading Chinese contemporary abstract artist Zhu Jinshi’s first piece showcased in Hong Kong. What’s intriguing here is the contrast between the size (18-meter long) and visual impact of the work, and the delicate materials from which it’s made. Aside from addressing the concept of time, Boat reveals the artist’s belief that his views can only be expressed through contact and dialogue with his chosen materials.
DISH Braised Bamboo Pith Stuffed with Assorted Fungi
Chef Kelvin Wong’s dish (Photo credit: ©Andrew Loiterton)
Chef Kelvin Wong’s dish (Photo credit: ©Andrew Loiterton)
Zhu’s method clearly worked, for his chosen materials immediately drew Chef Kelvin Wong to Boat. Wong studied the delicate use of xuan paper, bamboo and cotton thread, and began brainstorming a minimal, healthy vegetarian dish with bamboo pith. “In the past,” said Wong, “I have served bamboo pith with more lavish ingredients such as black or white truffle or bird’s nest. But for this dish, I wanted to convey the aesthetic purity of the artwork.” As a result, Wong stuffed the bamboo pith with a healthy assortment of fungi, mimicking the profound layers of Zhu’s installation.

Source: Eustascia Huen for Forbes Life

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