Pop Art is arguably one of the most revolutionary art movements of the twentieth century. Aiming to deflate and re-establish a societal order that had begun to sink in to lethargy, the work the leaders of this schoolwere able to generate were greeted, initially, with great aversion and their paintings seen as a malign to the medium. Andy Warhol was among these few who spent the majority of his life as an artist with his creativity and integrity in constant question. His art was absurd and the materials he juxtaposed were rarely harmonious to the layman’s eye. In time, Warhol’s work began to gain recognition. The everyday objects he was able to graft together were granted admission as art and his carouse of the mundane was lauded and much looked after. Like most of his great contemporaries, Andy Warhol understood the essence of creativity. He knew how to make light of the world around him and masterpieces by celebrating the daily subjects that surrounded him. In one quick brush stroke the ordinary was exalted and everyday items, like the Campbell soup can, brought to life, and copied in color creating work our culture now recognizes as iconic.
Similarly, a good chef understands that the purest dishes are derived from the simplest ingredients. Using a product as commonplace as an egg, it seemed only appropriate to tackle this project with the abstract idea of making sense of the two; correlating a connection between the importance of surprise and whimsy in both art, and food. One needn’t be rapt in the works of Warhol; the Pop movement didn’t lend itself to that the way The Ashcan School, or even Fauvism did. A large body of Andy Warhol’s work was product oriented, the way my menu was solely product driven. As a chef, and a person, I am interested in the irreverent and preternatural connection between art and nostalgia, the pallet and the mind. The egg is one of the most basic and widely know types of food, and sources of protein, on the planet. It is bold, elegant and perfect in design both inside and out. We all have our own associations of what it is (Easy? Boring? Comfort food?) And it’s those exact archetypes I’m looking to address and eradicate in my dishes. Each course is egg based and in addition to delighting the diner, I want to encourage them to try new things—or rather, to see old thing in a light that’s new. To be open to the kinds of food their parents never served them. It’s about enticing someone with the familiar and leaving them sated and content for having experienced something new.
I like plates that toy with texture and whatever existing ideas you may have about the dishes ingredients. I also like a beverage that enhances those very playful textures and completes the journey, the alchemy, that only a well made meal can incite. Take the Curried Egg Salad for example; I felt with all that is taking place with the flavors of the dish, why no finish things off with a nice 2003 NEETHLINGSHOF GEWüRZTRAMINER, from South Africa; a spicy wine with off dry flavors and zesty finish.
People have very different ideas about what eggs represent in their minds, our kitchens, and our collective culture as a whole. Often times Eggs aren’t even acknowledged after 9a.m. If I am able to incorporate my given product in to an entire menu while I educate, entertain, and gratify my diner, I’ve done my job as a chef.