When art meets gastronomy

Can food connect different people and bring them closer to the art and its messages? Reversely, can art add value on local products and flavors?

With such questions, Flavors of Art ended up to the Rechenzentrum in Potsdam, half an hour out of Berlin, supported by the START: Create Cultural Change programme. START supports young, promising cultural managers with innovative projects and it is empowered by the Robert Bosch Stiftung and other institutions.

The Rechenzentrum was a data center from the GDR era and now operates as an art residence. At first sight, it is a gray mass of concrete, stairwells and corridors. But somewhere in its dozens of doors, the country of miracles begins. Each door leads to the unique atelier of one of the creators that reside there, as a gate to a fourth dimension: the dimension of ideas.

This special site defined the project: "Table Deconstructed". The concept of the table was redefined as a meeting place, rather than a furniture and the building was turned  into a table for one night.

The attendees enjoyed a three-course menu inspired by the work of three artists, in their ateliers with them being present.

One of the challenges was to find the right flavor makers for the project and bring them in contact with the artists and their work: The emblematic bartender "Hasi" that his speakeasy-style bar, Bar-O-Meter, had not even written cocktail lists and Ka  from Art Gourmet, a self-taught chef from his 17th year and rapper, with clients including important politicians, among others.

The thread of the evening began to unfold outside the center, indicating details of its past, present, and future. (There is an organization that wants to rebuild Garnisonkirche in which Hitler symbolically took his power.) A piece of façade with the "Kosmos-Mosaik" declared as a cultural heritage was the passage to the garden, where Hasi prepared four different cocktail shots inspired by the history of the building. Choices ranged from non-alcoholic mango vinegar and local fruit juices to the fourth and strongest, reflecting the building's activist story, reproducing mild cocaine effects with materials such as 8-year-old black rum and simultaneous coffee chewing.

Then we moved to the first-floor appetizer at Kathrin Ollroge's atelier, which was recently awarded the Federal Cross of Merit for her "Room for Thoughts" project in parts of Germany experiencing social changes. Two salads in glass jars, the first being inspired by the colors of her work with local tomatoes, peach on the grill and mint with pink salt. The second reflected its conceptual character and contained cucumber with iced coconut milk, coriander, lemon and pink pepper, which "burst" into the mouth.

For the main dish we entered into the 2-3-square-meter atelier of the multi-faceted musician Joana "Asia" Waluszko, which is shared with the painter Jeanne van Dijk. Joana spoke about the symbolic function of the space as the smallest club, composing a piece of house music on the spot  and shortly afterwards. burst into laughter and began to sing opera. Her spicy, yet approachable personality inspired earthy, but chilly flavors in combination with the patented Geilo sauce. There was a vegan choice with grilled vegetables and another one with chicken base, all local. Finally, due to her Polish origin, a large version of pirogi with local pork was offered.

On the third floor, the dessert was associated with the artist Simone Westphal and her work "The Post Mortem Felted Club" (in collaboration with Menno Veldhuis). Artists who lived for their art like Keith Haring, return back to Earth as a group (wool dolls). This was a cotton-like panna cotta that traveled to childhood memories and gave a sense of touch of dolls and colorful petit fours from a local bakery.

The evening closed with four digestive long drinks inspired by the role of the building in the local community. Because I have been part of it for a while, Mastiha Skinos liqueur was added in one of them.

The results confirmed the original assumptions. The project brought together flavor makers and artists, and had a waiting list since the second day of launch, despite doubling the capacity. Half of the participants came from Berlin, which is important, since the gastronomy / nightlife of the regional Potsdam itself was not a motivation to visit.

Positive was also the result for the participating artists, in addition to the requests for repeating the project, they were able to talk about their work to journalists and representatives of the local government who were present at the event.