In times past, food has been seen variously as nutritional, ritualistic and as an indicator of social standing. However, in the past decade, there has been a massive shift in how food is perceived.

Here, Tom Ewer looks at decadal shift through the the work of two chefs, René Redzepi and Grant Achatz.


René Redzepi

In the culinary world today, there are many chefs who are creating pieces of art for their customers. One of world-renowned artistic creativity is René Redzepi, Chef Patron of Noma in Copenhagen (World Eestaurant of the year 2010). He sources his food from the natural habitats that surround his restaurant. Thus in artistic homage to the woodlands and dunes from which he takes his ingredients and inspiration, many of his creations mirror and celebrate the natural surroundings from which he extracts his menu.

He has taken the crusty baton from Ferran Adrià and El Bulli (previous World Restaurant of the year 2002, 2006-2009) and run with the idea of naturalistic artistic expression. That is not to say that his food is purely artistic, far from it, his food not only looks like, but truly tastes of the woods! He does this by including sights, smells and tastes of the forests and other key geographical arenas. Mosses, pine and other props of the surrounding land fill the plates and bowls at Noma. This is a clear and distinct break from the Nouvelle cuisine of the last century, as it is artistic yet has substance.

 

Grant Achatz

In a different vein, but of great interest nonetheless, another chef who is taking the culinary world by storm is Grant Achatz. His restaurant in Chicago, Alinea, earned 3 Michelin Stars in 2011. His food is truly artistic in its performance and presentation. One video of him can be seen on Youtube, entitled ‘Grant Achatz makes a mess on a table’.

At first, you may think he is an absolute nutter: a shaggy-haired guy in a loose fitting white outfit comes to your table and proceeds to unpack his gastronomic tool kit! However on closer inspection, one can see he is an amazing abstract artist. The finished product is a breathtaking piece of art. Imagine a culinary representation of a Jasper Johns painting and you are some way to visualising a Grant Achatz plate of food. He creates harmonious symphonies of shape, texture, surface, splatters and sprays that aggressively hold your attention. His food is progressive and futuristic in its transmission.

So the next time, a plate of food arrives in front of you, don’t just dig in. Why not take a little time to appreciate the finer nuances of its artistic creation, even if it is just a fry up from a cafe.

 

About The Author

I am a chef, consultant and food writer. Food is one of the oldest artistic and social forms of expression, come and read whilst I inform and explain trends in culinary expression.

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