Elly on the Arts: Good taste in the culinary arts

We have just watched the film “Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles” on CraveTV. In case you don’t know him, Yotam Ottolenghi is an Israeli-born chef who has published some wonderful cookbooks with his business partner Sami Tamimi. We have three - Ottolenghi, Simple and Flavour. They are good and introduce many new flavours of the Meditrerranean Sea, as it borders north Africa and the Middle East, that we had never really tried before. You understand, of course, that the use of “we” in this case is the “royal ‘we’” as your humble scribe has never really learned to cook (having no particular interest beyond eating) and relies completely on Tim for sustenance.

Yotam Ottolenghi is an interesting fellow. He was a philosophy student and completed his masters’ degree in art history, writing a very esoteric thesis on an aspect of photography. Even he says it is difficult to grasp the finer points. He decided that chef’s training was the way for him and went on, after pastry chef school, to open a restaurant in London. He now owns six restaurants there with Tamimi, a Palestinian chef he met in London but who also grew up in Jerusalem.

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The TV show was about the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and a performance art piece they presented before COVID-19 hit. Ottolenghi was invited to “curate” this show and he invited six expert (though completely different) chefs to participate in a challenge to make desserts based on the Palace of Versailles in France. Each chef was renowned for their dessert-making capabilities, but all were totally unique. One worked entirely in chocolate; another in jelly. One was architectural in the structure and appearance of her cakes, while another used the gardens for inspiration. The deserts they created were stunningly beautiful and they worked for days to produce them.

Then, when the gallery opened at the Met, the people came - and they ate them! Poof! Works of art gone! It is an awesome idea, we thought, and we must do it here in Flin Flon. Can’t you just imagine setting up tables and chairs in Rotary Park (or bringing your own camp chair) and having dessert (safely socially distanced) on a beautiful, sunny Saturday? All kinds of folks could bring their favorite dessert to share with friends.

We bet the City of Flin Flon could help with the set-up. Dave Gunn could rent out a tent to serve as a central spot for the desserts to arrive at and the Co-op could provide paper plates and disposable forks. The Rotary Club of Flin Flon and Flin Flon Inner Wheel Club could serve pieces of dessert to everyone who came and Mark Kolt could be in charge of musical entertainment for the few hours of fun.

At the Met, one of the notable features Ottolenghi commented on was the remarkable number of still life paintings in which the subject is foodstuffs, He wanted, with his show, to honour that rich tradition in painting. The NorVA Centre has offered a still life class in it’s online course offerings, as well as at a paint night, back when we could still get together for those fun events. This culinary masterpiece might be an ideal time to show some of the work our artists have been doing in that vein too.

Our dear cultural coordinator, Crystal Kolt, has longed for an opportunity to showcase culinary arts within our region. Perhaps this is it. Write or email us if you would like to participate or simply partake in an event such as this. We need fun - and sunshine.


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