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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Monday, October 18

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Event Thu Mar 14 2013

The Art of Food

The discussion of the arts is normally left to topics that have historically been, well, artistic, but the practice of being a chef as all chefs will argue has become art within itself. Not too long ago, food was a means to an end; it was neither here nor there. Today, chefs don't cook, they craft. No longer are we satisfied if food tastes good; it must also look good. A dish has composition. Dining you might say, is the new opera.

ctforwardarts078 (1).jpgRick Bayless spoke about this concept of food as art at Wednesday's Chicago Forward: The Future of the Arts, a panel discussion with Chicago creatives such as artist Tony Fitzpatrick, architect Jeanne Gang and cultural commissioner Michelle Boone. Bayless is well known for his craft of Mexican cuisine. He has elevated street food to art. At one point he said the word tamale with the most appropriate authenticity that I briefly wondered if his mouth and tongue had just engaged in a pas de deux. I can try to think street food when I think of tacos, but under his context, I just can't.

During the discussion about art bringing about change to a community the question was posed, "What can food do?"

Bayless shared a story of his time spent in Oaxaco and how the community protested against the introduction of fast-food by uniting to share and eat food native to their culture. In effect, "coming to a communal table to preserve what you have" and enacting positive change for their community.

This "communal table" is something we practice when we go out to dinner with our friends, when we join around the table for the holidays, when we sit down at gala dinners next to strangers and share stories over chicken breast and Brussels sprouts. Regardless of age, race or affiliation, we connect, we engage, we walk away happier. When we cook we share and in sharing our food, we expose who we are and where we come from. We tell the stories of a culture, of a generation to each other without speaking.

Tony Fitzpatrick stated that art was "an exercise in maintaining sanity," and I couldn't help but think of the Curtis Duffys of the world, last season's Master Chef, or those of use who return to our canvases, to our dance studios, to our kitchens in discovery of who we are and who we want to be.

Food is art and if we can start to define art by the experience it brings verses the thing itself we can allow ourselves to shift from the standards definitions of what defines an artist and open up into new realms... like food, like the simple slice of a knife cutting through an onion, the familiar knock of a blade on the wooden board.

Photo courtesy of The Chicago Tribune

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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