Recipes Inspired by the Collection of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
The most recent publication from the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens provides not only scholarly commentary on artwork in the museum’s collection, but also seeks to inspire by interpreting the artwork in a new way. The Chef’s Canvas: Recipes Inspired by the Collection of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens highlights two very important elements of Jacksonville, the art and foodie cultures, while looking at the museum’s artwork from a fresh perspective.
The idea for the cookbook was taken from a thank you card received by Cummer Museum Director Hope McMath from a museum donor. The front of the card featured an art image depicting a scene in Venice, Italy, and on the back was a recipe. She loved the card so much she kept it posted near her desk, where it sat until the time came for the Cummer to produce a new publication. However, instead of creating yet another traditional museum catalog, a different direction was chosen. “We are always looking for new ways to interpret the collection,” says McMath.
The last comprehensive Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens catalog was published in 2000. The card and the desire to create something unique converged with Jacksonville’s thriving local culinary scene to inspire the concept for this project. “The idea is to give people a different way of looking at the artwork through food, color, texture, culture, and individual life experiences,” McMath states. “These elements all have a relationship and come together through The Chef’s Canvas. If our collection was less diverse, this project never would have worked.”
The Chef’s Canvas is a beautifully-designed coffee table cookbook celebrating the diverse collection of art at the museum and the abundant talent of local chefs. The project was spearheaded by Program Manager Emily Moody, in partnership with Cari Sanchez-Potter, who previously published Cooking with Intuition and hosts the celebrated Legends Series dinners. The book includes artfully-inspired dishes and signature cocktails from more than fifty restaurants, breweries, food trucks, and bartenders from across the First Coast. Each chef chose a piece of art from the museum they felt a connection to, and created a dish using the piece as inspiration. Some related what they saw in the artwork to a childhood experience or a family tradition, others responded to the colors or feelings the artwork evoked, and some interpreted the artwork more literally, recreating the image on a plate.
The artwork included in the book spans a wide range of artistic styles and periods, and includes artists from a variety of countries. Each recipe includes a statement from the chef about the inspiration for their dish, a photo of the chosen piece of art, a scholarly interpretation of the piece, and a beautiful image of the finished dish. The recipes range from a colorful salsa that requires no cooking and just fifteen minutes of preparation time to an elaborate carpaccio consisting of seven individually-concocted elements. This mélange represents all that is best in art and food. As you read through The Chef’s Canvas, take the time to look deeper at the images.
Take the time to spot the unique, thoughtful details and special connections made between each dish and its artwork.
“For me, this book creates a sense of place. It is a celebration of all that is great in this community. Our collection is Jacksonville’s collection. The book highlights the historic gardens on the St. Johns River. It is about local chefs using locally sourced produce, local breweries, local design, and local printers. The content and the people who put it together all represent Northeast Florida. So often in the art world, when we say local it can sound provincial. It does not always have a positive connotation in terms of a regional museum, but in this case, it really is a celebration of our area,” says McMath.
In addition to working exclusively with area chefs and bartenders, the book was also printed and bound locally by Hartley Press, designed by local artist and designer Varick Rosete, and all photography was done by local photographer Agnes Lopez.
The Chef’s Canvas: Recipes Inspired by the Collection of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens can be purchased at the Cummer Shop or online at www.thechefscanvas.com. Upcoming programs related to the The Chef’s Canvas include a tasting event to celebrate the launch of the cookbook in March, and a series of cooking classes over the summer, all featuring chefs from the cookbook and tasty treats.