When we open ourselves to art, we open ourselves to the world – to beauty, craft, to different cultures, to pain and pleasure, expression and emotion.

Food is Art: Street Party Chefs Craft Menus Based on Works of Art

Gibbes on the Street - Food is Art

After a two-year multi-million dollar renovation, the Gibbes Museum of Art will host its annual Street Party on Thursday, May 4th, in celebration of its newly restored 112-year-old stately Beaux Arts home.

This year, 30 of Charleston’s top restaurants are challenged to create dishes inspired by works in the Museum’s permanent collection exclusively for the Street Party. A special thank you to Charleston Grill’s General Manager Mickey Bakst and Chef Michelle Weaver for coordinating this extraordinary group of culinary talent.

Event co-chair Anne Janas reached out to four of the participating chefs and asked them to reflect on their inspiration and this year’s Street Party theme Food is Art.

Chef Marc Collins of Circa 1886

Chef Marc Collins – Circa 1886
It’s an honor to be part of the Gibbes Street party again this year. The theme Food is Art ties it all together for me. It has a personal connection and gives us a good roadmap to focus our thinking.

I grew up with art because my dad, Robert Collins, is an artist. When I was very young I would get bored with all the talk and activities around art, but I was learning a lot—learning how to look at things differently. This sensibility has carried over into the culinary arts. How it looks is equally important as to how it tastes. When I’m preparing food, I feel like an artist working on a canvas.

Still Life (Ducks and Snipe), ca. 1840, by Charles Fraser
Still Life (Ducks and Snipe), ca. 1840, by Charles Fraser (American, 1782–1860); oil on canvas; Gibbes Museum of Art, Museum purchase; 1924.003.0004

When we saw the painting Still Life (Ducks and Snipe) by Charles Fraser (American, 1782–1860), we immediately knew we were going to prepare duck and translate the dish to a street party environment. We’ve been at the party for years, and it has a great vibe.


Chef Forrest Parker of The Drawing Room

Chef Forrest Parker – Drawing Room
I’m excited about the art that is inspiring our dish—Rough Sea at the Naruto in Awa Province by Ichiryusai Hiroshige (1797–1858). The woodblock is a Japanese print from the Edo period in Japan and is evocative of a specific time and place. I looked at the print, and the concept just clicked.

Rough Sea at the Naruto in Awa Province No. 55 from the series Pictures of Famous Places in the Sixty Odd Provinces, 1855, by Ichiryusai Hiroshige
Rough Sea at the Naruto in Awa Province No. 55 from the series Pictures of Famous Places in the Sixty Odd Provinces, 1855, by Ichiryusai Hiroshige (Jananese, 1797–1858); woodblock print on paper; Gibbes Museum of Art, Gift of Mary Alston Read Simms from the Collection of Motte Alston Read in memory of him and his Mother, Jane Ladson Alston Read; 1948.004.0369

The dish will have edamame pea hummus with seared scallops and will include umami (a savory taste) in every element. The working title is “Edo Umami,” a tribute to the style of the print and a play-on-words with the word edamame.

The Gibbes as an institution is such a very special resource here in Charleston. Our family enjoys the premiere collection of colonial and antebellum portrait miniatures, and we have many favorites like the miniature portraits of the Middleton family. I want to keep our presentation meticulous and articulate, and the miniature presentations make a nod to these objects in the Gibbes collection.


Chef Michael Toscano of Le Farfalle

Chef Michael Toscano – Le Farfalle
The Gibbes Museum is just an unbelievable place, it’s one of kind in Charleston. If there is anything I can do to make it a better place, I’m happy to participate.

I’m a huge fan of art and when I was in New York City, I would go the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and stare at works for hours. The painting at the Gibbes by Ferdinando Cavalleri (Italian, 1794–1861) of Charles Izard Manigault and His Family in Rome is so elegant, and it’s exciting for me to have it as my inspiration.

Charles Izard Manigault and His Family in Rome, 1831, by Ferdinando Cavalleri
Charles Izard Manigault and His Family in Rome, 1831, by Ferdinando Cavalleri (Italian, 1794–1861); oil on canvas; Gibbes Museum of Art, Gift of Anne Jenkins Sawyers in memory of Gabriel Manigault Jenkins and Annie Jenkins Batson; 2001.013

The theme Food is Art is fun. I’m always looking for inspiration, and this theme allows me to think in a different way. Presentation is a huge part of it. So for something like this, we create a dish based on traditional flavors and combinations, and then the last part of it is the aesthetic. We incorporate beautiful Charleston ingredients that are indigenous and in season. That is where my cuisine has gone since we moved here. I expected that, and I’m also excited by it.


Chef Michelle Weaver of Charleston Grill

Chef Michelle Weaver – Charleston Grill
We love the Gibbes, and we love the street party idea that gives the chefs the opportunity to fix international street food from around the world. And everybody loves the idea, loves participating, and being able to be creative and get out of their normal situation.

I was excited about the theme Food is Art—a direction we have not done yet. Since the Gibbes is an art museum, connecting the art with the food makes it even more exciting.

Corene, 1995, by Jonathan Green
Corene, 1995, by Jonathan Green (American, b. 1955); oil on canvas; Gibbes Museum of Art, Museum Purchase; 1998.005

I love Jonathan Green’s painting Corene. Jonathan is a dear friend to me, and I love him and his artwork. I was very excited to have that one. I’m developing a dish based on knowing Jonathan, his interest in the rice culture, and his paintings. The dish has to be rice and will be Gullah influenced.

We eat with our eyes as well. It is our first impression before the food even reaches our tongue. Our palate is the visual effect that food can give you by looking at it. It’s very important.

I’m very excited about the Gibbes’ new space, and the Street Party has wonderful energy. You can feel it in the air with the music, camaraderie of the chefs, and the energy of the people as they walk in and taste the food. It is the best party of the year.

This enthusiasm from these four chefs is just a sample of the fresh perspective and highly creative thinking that is coming together to produce an extraordinary evening on the street in front of the Gibbes on May 4th. Won’t you join us for the festivities?

Anne Janas, co-chair, Gibbes Street Party

Event Details:
Gibbes on the Street: Food is Art
Thursday, May 4 | 7:30 – 10pm
135 Meeting Street
Tickets: $150 Members | $175 Non-Members
For tickets and more details, visit gibbesmuseum.org/streetparty
All proceeds benefit the Gibbes Museum of Art. Note: tickets are only available for advance purchase.

Featured Restaurants include The Atlantic Room, Café Framboise, Cannon Green, Caviar & Bananas, Charleston Grill, Circa 1886, Coda del Pesce, Cypress, Drawing Room, Edmund’s Oast, FIG, Fish, Grill 225, The Grocery, Halls Chophouse, Husk, Indaco, Le Farfalle, The Macintosh, McCrady’s, Oak Steakhouse, The Ocean Room, The Ordinary, Red Drum, Trattoria Lucca, Slightly North of Broad, The Warehouse, and WildFlour Pastry.

Published April 27, 2017

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