“Art and Dining Make a Fine Pairing”
Written by Catherine Bigelow
August 19, 2014
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The white brick walls of Hedge Gallery proved a fabulous foil last week as Quince chef Michael Tusk welcomed gallerist Jessica Silverman and her “White Is the Warmest Color” exhibition during week three of cur/ATE…
“This is more difficult than hanging a show in my gallery,” said Silverman, dazzling in an all-white ensemble topped by a sparkly silver jacket. “Because people are dining amid the works, I had to rethink where I hang the art and make sure everyone has something intriguing within their sight line.”
This five-week pop-up that fuses fine dining (a different Tusk menu each week) with fine art (curated by a different gallerist each week)continues in its fourth week through Saturday with supper amid a show curated by John Berggruen. The final week (Aug. 27-30) concludes with a “Far Away” exhibition by gallerist Iwona Tenzing.
“I tried not to be too literal as I composed the menus for each gallery,” said Tusk, who is taking his show across the road while he revamps Quince restaurant. “It’s more of a riff off the art in collaboration with Hedge’s Steven Volpe and event producer Stanlee Gatti.”
Riffing off Silverman’s theme, Tusk composed an “all-white” menu: white Gazpacho with gulf shrimp, white peach salad with buttermilk dressing, risotto Bianco, Dover sole and a white raspberry Vacherin.
Tusk reigns as a two-star Michelin chef but eschews any comparison of his labors to art because the restaurant biz, he says, is 90 percent blue-collar work.
“I’d planned to study art history in college. But I ended up a chef who collects photography, some of which we showcase at Quince,” he continued. “I’m a believer that food and wine enhance the artistic experience.”
Much of the prep is performed at Quince’s sister restaurant, Cotogna. As the dinner hour approaches, a flurry of uniformed staff begin crisscrossing the Jackson Square crosswalk, ferrying foodstuffs to the office-basement-turned-kitchen below Hedge.
“We love the interactive experience of working with our neighbors,” Tusk said. “But the concept also forced us out of our comfort zone where you walk into the kitchen, there’s a French stove with 10 burners, and the knives are always in the same place. Cur/ATE has inspired us to rethink what we do on a daily basis.”
Tusk explained that the idea was born of specialty dinners he and his wife, Lindsay Tusk, have provided at Hedge for Christie’s auction house.
But the concept was spurred by the fact that the Tusks want to keep their Quince staff busy as they refurbish the restaurant.
Tusk also loves that his guests are experiencing art outside a traditional setting, amid elements of the everyday.
“I really enjoy the temporariness of cur/ATE. We open on Wednesday, close on Saturday, then a brand-new show goes up,” he said. “I don’t call myself an artist. But organizing this has been artistic in the sense that if you don’t like what’s on your canvas you can toss it aside and start over.”