Chefs Inspired by Art

Words: Jess Spiro

The late and great Marcella Hazan once said “Cooking is an art, but you eat it too” and we’re inclined to agree. There are many similar thoughts about food can be a work of art, and if you think about it, it does make a lot of sense. If you think about the emotions you feel when you see a truly masterful piece of art, food can do the same to you. A memorable mouthful of something delicious can stay with you forever, and can transport you to that exact moment you first enjoyed it. In honour of the craftsmanship that culinary delights require, we look back on three edible works of art made for us by Reuben Riffel, Peter Templehof and Ryan Shell. Lovely to look at, even better to eat.

Artist: Reuben Riffel

Studio/restaurant: Reubens in Franschoek, Robertson and the One and Only at the V&A Waterfront.

Title: Pickled Roasted Squid Heads, Pink Oyster, Beetroot, Carrot and Parsley Juice, 2013, squid and puree on a white plate, 20 cm x 20 cm.

Chef’s statement: “I generally focus on real flavours with my food. This abstract and colourful plate gets a lot of its colour from the beetroot purée and the carrot purée. There is an element of the surreal with the squid heads placed in between. Real food cooked beautifully naturally creates its own masterpiece.”

Title: Potato and Black Mushroom Soup with Spices and Dry fried Cauliflower, circa 2003, soup and circular white bowl, 15 cm x 15 cm.
Chefs inspired by art
Chef’s statement: “This work is also about rich hearty flavours. When you look into the bowl, there is a striking contrast between the black mushroom soup and the creamy white potato soup. Olive oil and chervil oil provide a touch of colour.”
Chefs inspired by art

Artist: Peter Templehoff collaborating with Gerald van der Walt and his team.

Restaurant: Executive Chef of the McGrath Collection.

Title: ‘Fruit Salad,’ Panna Cotta & Blueberry Leather, 2013, fruits, gels, purées and white plate, 10 cm x 10 cm.

Chef’s statement: “This plate was influenced by the Cubism movement where objects were analyzed, broken up and reassembled in an abstracted form — instead of depicting objects from one viewpoint, the artist depicts the subject from a multitude of viewpoints to represent the subject in a greater context. You will be surprised to note that all the ingredients in this brightly coloured plated are natural!”
Chefs inspired by art

Title: ‘Pan Seared Langoustine, Saffron Monkfish, Squid Ink Tagliatelle, circa 2013, seafood, pasta on a dark grey plate, 18 cm x 18 cm.

Chef’s statement: “This plate was influenced by the Expressionist movement and more directly Vincent van Gogh’s famous work Starry Night. Swirling clouds, stars a-blaze with their own luminescence are represented in this moody plate of food.”
Chefs inspired by art

Title: ‘Pan Seared Scallop, Mango Soup & Cabbage, circa 2013, scallop, sliced on a white bowl, 2013, 18 x 18 cm.

Chef’s statement: “The surreal look on the plate maybe tricky for some to palate. It expresses the magical world of surrealism with the use of cabbage as eyelashes, the central focus of the scallop and a mysterious pool of mango soup all combining to form the shape of an eye, the window to our souls and stomachs!”
Chefs inspired by art

Artist: Ryan Shell

Restaurant: Haute Cabriere.

Title: Duo of Organic Beef, Fondant Potato, Apricot Purée, Caramelised Onion, Cumin Jus, circa 2013, beef on a dark black plate, 20 cm x 10 cm.

Chef’s statement: “This plate is a regular at the restaurant but I selected it for its contrast in colour and, of course, its flavour!”
Chefs inspired by art
Title: Beetroot and Apple Mousse, Smoked Goats Cheese Tortellini, Golden Beetroot Purée, Beetroot Lollipop, Crispy Apple, Pickled Baby Beetroots, circa 2013, mousse, pasta and purée on a dark black plate, 20 x 10 cm.

Chef’s statement: “The influence for this plating was the ever popular Starry Night. Loads of swirls and touches of shining stars of golden puree. An emotional world of flavours.”

Title: 5 Spice Panna Cotta, Brown Sugar Meringue, Honey Froth, Fig Puree, Honey Caviar, Lavender Shortbread, circa 2013, sweet stuff on a dark blue black plate, 10 x 10 cm.

Chef’s statement: “Decadent golds and deep fig pinks. This could have been the work of Hieronymus Bosch. Bosch’s dark depictions of a sinful humanity, his conceptions of Heaven and Hell are all featured on this plate, minus the hell part. A heavenly dessert with all the elements made in the restaurant.”
Chefs inspired by art

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