In all the years that I’ve been globetrotting, I've always had art and food to guide me in discovering a new place. And I must say, I’ve been very lucky to always end up in places that had both in abundance. Cincinnati was no exception, as surprising as some people may find that. The Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) immediately attracted me and I volunteered to become a docent in 2009, also serving on the CAC board for the past four years. I love how Cincinnati has evolved into a hub of culinary curiosity, with many young and creative chefs moving to the area in the last few years.
So when a group of my art buddies came up with the crazy idea of developing a cookbook to raise funds for the CAC, it quickly evolved into a cross-pollination of the city's up-and-coming dining ecosystem with the Artists and their avant-garde work that has been presented at the CAC over the past 75 years. And it became one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. The original response from Jaime Thompson, the CAC’s Curator for Education, was enthusiastic, and when she asked me to lead this effort, my response was of course a resounding yes!
We were all passionate in the group, however we didn’t know if anyone else would embrace our crazy idea to combine Chefs and Artists. Luckily for us, many people did. The town’s most talented food photographer, Gina Weathersby, decided to join us and Alexandra Harcha Montes, a fellow docent, friend and designer joined the design team. The first chefs we approached immediately welcomed the project with open arms and word-of-mouth helped us reach more people who wholeheartedly joined us. Cincinnati’s Chefs and Mixologists feverishly researched the Artists we matched them with and came up with amazing interpretations of their art and inspired recipes. We were even able to have a sommelier pair all the recipes with wines. The CAC’s leadership and staff enthusiastically joined this effort. Skilled editor Lucy Flint, and talented recipe tester Emma Gohlke, teamed up all the way from Boston! We all became one big team, a community project of sorts determined to make "Cuisine Art Cocktails" a success and we all zealously offered our best talent, skills and creativity.
For me personally, it was a unique experience both as a person and as a visual designer. It took me away from my own community and straight into the heart of Cincinnati’s culinary community. It opened a window to a whole new world where friendship, support, imagination, collaboration take place continuously. Every photo shoot we did was one big imaginative, inspired experience, one big treat. Every page we designed was a feast for the eyes. More importantly, we all collaborated for free and proceeds from the sales of the book benefit the Education Department of the CAC.
Today, I feel extremely lucky and grateful for having had the opportunity of this experience. It uniquely let me express my love for design, art and food in one single project and it proved to me once more that beautiful things happen when art and food are involved!
Enjoy the delicious taste of PDO Kimi figs from the island of Evia and bring the flavors of a Greek summer to your table. Hand-crafted by Kumilio using traditional techniques with no additives, preservatives, artificial coloring or flavors.