I had the opportunity to collaborate with two very talented and dear friends, Leah Rosenberg and Yvonne Mouser. We were invited to take part in Root Division’s annual fundraiser event TASTE. Working with the exhibit theme ALCHEMY, we designed an interactive experience that transformed light and liquid into choreographed concoctions. With the help of our friends at Tekamaki, we had a custom built “light table” (an LCD monitor without polarization) and served our drinks in magic glasses that allowed imagery and animation to reveal through the bottom of the glass.
Inspired by alchemy and mythical potions, Spirit Phenomena is about chemistry and magic. It combines performance, technology, and spirits to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. We called these Elixirs to heal your modern ailments.
Expansion of Time
ingredients: past, presence, future, infinity
(Mezcal, jalapeno syrup, lime, habanero tincture, spiced salt rim, ice cube with citrus jelly)
Path To Clarity
ingredients: dreams, vision, wisdom, perspective, intuition, attention
(Gin, sage honey syrup, lemon, dry ice, surprise)
ingredients: essence, collected sacred water, joie de vivre, moon beams, timelessness
(Cava, lemon verbena syrup, elderflower liqueur, effervescence, sprouts, flowers)
Photography by Hugo Ahlberg
Inter-courses is about relationships - the relationship between colors and flavors, the food and the table, and the participants with each other. It is about the magic that happens once one course is served to the next.
The main component of the evening revolved around a color placemat. Its colors determined the flavors and emotions of what was about to be served. The guests were directed to pick a side and follow the colors as they evolved. The folding of it in between courses speaks to the space and time in between a course and required participation from the guests, urging them to physically get closer over the course of the event.
Three courses of small bites and cocktails were served by Lisa and Leah from a rolling cart that they treated with colored strips, integrating the serving cart itself into the choreography.
Each course focused on an activity that required guests to share and collaborate.
Vibrant with warm tones, the first course plays with fluctuation and working to create balance.
A selection of cheese and crackers, vegetable stacks and dips were arranged on a serving tray that mimicked a see-saw. As guests took an item off of the see-saw, it would tilt to the other side and back as they dipped.
Crudité & Dips
Beet dip, sweet potato dip, cheese, quince, rye bread, buttermilk crackers, assortment of veggies (cucumber, jicama, rainbow carrots and radishes)
Orange & Blood Orange Cocktail
Orange, blood orange, mezcal, jalapeno, juice ice cubes, dehydrated blood orange, orange peel
The second course, with a calming palette of violet and chartreuse, provokes a little more intimacy. One long charcoal noodle was served on a platform with a candle lighting the dish. Served without utensils, guests were encouraged to start at the ends and meet in the middle.
Pasta Salad with Saffron Vinaigrette
Charcoal noodle with goat cheese balls (rolled in paprika, pistachio, poppy seeds, edible flowers) arugula and sweetie pop peppers
Violet & Prosecco
Creme de violette, prosecco, topped with borage flower served in champagne flute
The third course is about challenge and anticipation, with a sweet ending. Each table was given a heart shaped balloon with a coffee cocktail. Inside the balloon were two colored strips of paper that determined the color combination for dessert and a sprinkle of edible glitter. Guests were instructed to use the popper at the end of the balloon and work together - one holding the string while the other popped, to retrieve the color strips. Upon being showered with glitter, each couple presented their colored strips to the cake bar and were served corresponding cake slices, one chocolate cake and one butter cake.
Cold brew from FRONT, apple brandy, whiskey, amaro, mint syrup, topped with whipped cream
A selection of butter and chocolate cakes with colored frosting
To wrap up the evening, the colored placemat was rolled into a cone and used as a carrier for a bouquet of hydrangeas. Guests also received two baci di dama “lady kisses” cookies to take home.
Designed with Leah Rosenberg at Taste Workshop
Mindful Meal is an eating experience where we examine and enjoy food through the lens of time. The five course dinner highlighted ingredients at various stages of life and evolved from fast to slow, young to old, light to complex.
Food is immediate in our culture. We simply go to the store and buy fresh produce. We have learned to be more conscious about seasonal, locally grown, and organic foods, but one thing we give little thought to is the life span of ingredients -- specifically, the time it takes for food to grow, develop, and mature. How long does it take to harvest a single carrot or to raise a pig?
We collaborated with various chefs to design a seasonal menu around this concept. Each course highlighted a different stage in life - Seed, Sprout, Bloom, Mature, and Decompose.
A display of fresh ingredients invited guests to learn more about what they were eating. Displayed from youngest to oldest, each item revealed the time it took to grow and source of origin (i.e. a chicken egg takes 25 hours to develop).
The meal began with a brief meditation that awakened our senses and introduced guests to mindful eating. The dinner was designed with interactive activities that engaged guests with their senses. Participants created their own curry blend for the SEED course by selecting a mixture of spices presented in test tubes. After toasting then grinding in a mortar and pestle, guests sprinkled the spices onto their own bowl of slow cooked egg in grain broth. Guests were also invited to experiment and customized their own cocktail, using unconventional ingredients like wheatgrass juice.
Photography by Sergey Kolivayko
Designed at Taste Workshop
For the holiday open house at FRONT, food + art collective Thought For Food designed an edible art installation, A Winter’s Tale. The window displays in the Taste Workshop were transformed into a dramatic and festive landscape made of edible treats.
The first window featured a popcorn blizzard, where the 6.5 x 4.5 ft box was rigged as a giant popcorn maker. As popcorn spilled out of the popper, they would fall and collect towards the center of the box, where a blower would then lift them back into the air, creating a constant flow of movement. A simple rake was designed to gather the popcorn.
Tree trimming was the theme of the second window. Crab apples on wooden sticks were dipped in caramel and hung onto a twirling wireframe tree. As the motor-driven tree slowly rotated, the caramel apple ornaments drizzled onto the bed of popcorn below.
Guests were invited to interact with the displays by assembling their own paper cones and scooping popcorn, or picking a caramel apple off of the tree to eat. Some participants got creative and dipped the sticky apples directly into popcorn.
Specialty cocktails were served in the café, where guests experienced a different view of A Winter’s Tale. The windows, which were frosted on the café side, acted as light boxes, creating dramatic silhouettes of the performances.
Designed by Thought For Food at Taste Workshop
A unique dinner challenge where guests "hunted” for local ingredients prior to the dinner and gathered to cook a spontaneous 4 course meal with Chef Leif.
A special bag with an official invite and “hunting” instructions was mailed to each guest. Each invite included unique ingredient descriptions (green, leafy, or bitter for example), and guests were challenged to interpret and source a fruit, vegetable, or herb to complement the meal. Participants were encouraged to forage, pick, or purchase their finds and gather information about its origin. The menu was ultimately determined by the particular choices and interpretations of each guest.
Once the ingredients had been brought to the table, guests shared their choice with the group. With no preparation, the chef was challenged to spontaneously design, prepare and plate an entire 4 course meal based on the collective ingredients, with the addition of chef provided seafood and meat. All guests shared in the cooking process with our head chef.
Design by: Thought For Food
An edible art installation for a gallery show at Root Division in San Francisco. The installation consists of a large round table covered in hexagon shaped tarts with cream cheese and flowers, which from above looks like a honeycomb. Above it was suspended a rod with six bees wax honey pots each filled with local wildflower honey. Each pot has small opening in the bottom to slowly drizzle its contents. The rod hangs from ropes that connect to a wheel and a series of pulleys ending in a simple hand crank. By spinning the wheel the ropes wind up and rotate the pots creating a concentric set of honey drizzle. As the event goes on the tarts are eaten and the honey covers more of the tarts.
Spun Honey concentrates on the process of how honey is made and consumed, inviting the participant to take part in a kinetic loop where a simple mechanical effort—a method inspired by traditional honey extraction—withdraws the honey and drizzles it on a tart. To perpetuate the cycle, participants are encouraged to take away a seed packet to plant the seeds for future honey.
Design by: Thought For Food
A casual showing of B movies turns into an elaborate underground theater with the help of robots and concessions by Thought for Food. The summer series curated by Sam included Black Narcissus, Pirahna 3d, Repo Man, and Total Recall. We carefully curated a menu specific to each movie. Flavored popcorns and sodas with some special sweets where inspired by people, places and happening in the film you were about to see. If you’re familiar with these movies you understand the meanings. Otherwise the significance is reveled as the night unfolds.
Design by: Thought For Food
One of the first things we learn as a toddler is how to use a spoon and fork. We are scolded for playing with our food, and discouraged to eat with our hands. We learn to be “civilized;” to carry a spoonful of soup to the mouth, to cut bite size pieces of steak, to twirl spaghetti around a fork. Connecting with food through tools is one of the first ways we interact with objects and learn survival.
In the Middle Ages, utensils were status symbols, used only by the wealthy. Although at the time it was not considered necessary, people used them to flaunt highly decorative utensils made of rare stones and metals.
With the exception of finger foods such as burgers, and sandwiches, we rarely use our bare hands to consume, not to mention create food. Utensils are certainly useful, however they further remove us from experiencing food by creating a layer between the food and the body. This meal attempts to remove that layer and explore a more direct relationship to the food we consume. How do we make a pesto sauce without knives? Is it possible to whip cream without a blender or whisk? How does one measure ingredients without a standard measuring cup? Does the eating experience alter radically if we remove the layer of the tool and have direct contact with our food at all times?
Traditional caesar salad
Homemade pasta with pesto sauce
• Participants will work in teams of two
• Each team will create a three course meal
• All ingredients and tools are within arms reach
• All measurements are made with the hands
• Participants are encouraged to create tools out of food
Design by: Thought For Food
For an annual party, we created an edible installation that played off time based media and initiated the first in a series of work based on the concept of a loop, or cycle. Mesmerized by how caramel is affected by heat and gravity, we chose caramel apples and popcorn for our snacks.
24 frames per second (an 8 second loop) divided a long narrow table into 8 segments of 24 "frames" (the standard amount of frames in 1 second of film). Each frame, labeled as timecode (the industry standard for labeling sequences), represents a piece of the story.
As part of the performance, we dipped the apples one by one into warm caramel. After dipping the apples, they were suspended and left to tell their own narrative based on time, heat, and human interaction. Caramel dripped onto the popcorn at varying speeds creating a combined new sweet/savory treat.
We captured the action in dramatic silhouettes by hanging white vellum frames, where guests were able to observe a constantly evolving story from a distance.
Design by: Thought For Food
A food experience for the opening of the Deep Craft Atelier pop-up at Storefront Lab in San Francisco. For the event, Thought for Food took inspiration from the beach vendors that might hang out on a boardwalk, comb the beaches, or otherwise contribute to a culture rooted in California in the 1960's. What more fitting way to find refreshment than from a popsicle? Made for one, designed for quick consumption with flavors that reflected sun, sand and sea. We imagined how these three staples of either surf or skate life might taste and called them "Surf Pops".
Our graphic coolers recalled another era, and came specially equipped with "salt" and "sand" (almond meal) cups so customers could dip their pop for an extra bonus taste/texture.
"Sun" was truly a taste of the sun with spicy and citrus flavors from habanero peppers, lime, and strips of mango. "Sand" was a nutty, and sweet, pudding like pop with almond, black sesame and caramel. Cucumber, vanilla and mint were the primary ingredients of "Sea," which visually gave people an interpretation of the sea as if frozen and put on a stick. Each frozen treat had a specially designed mini-surfboard that identified it's flavor.
Design by: Thought For Food