The first of the Walker Kitchen Lab public projects took place last Thursday evening. (June 21, 2012) In restaurants, an amuse bouche, or mouth amuser, is a one bite meal that allows the chef to demonstrate their approach to food. The Kitchen Lab Amuse Bouche invited people at the Walker Art Center’s Target Free Thursday Night (TFTN) to create their own one bite meal that represented a little bit of Minnesota.
The project was developed by Carl and Betsy DiSalvo to engage the public in thinking about representations of ideas in different sensory food experiences, and to reflect on their community. It also served as a prototype and model for Kitchen Lab collective that is building a series of kitchen experiences for the Walker Open Field.
Dryness and sweet taste profiles were used to help recreate the feeling of the 9 PM Minnesota summer sunset.
Participating was a little like playing a food game. With a placemat, or game board, in hand each player selected two “taste cards” and one “phrase card”. The taste cards had one word description of taste like sweet, sour, or umami. The phrase cards had short phrases that would hold special relevance to Twin City residents, such as “Fireflies in a jar”, “Algae on a lake”, “Slush in your boot” and, of course, “Minnesota nice”. A wide variety of food and taste were provided and visitors brought their own to share.
They then selected ingredients from their two taste profiles and created a new one- bite meal that represented their phrase. After finding the perfect recipe we asked them to make three, two to share and one to add to the artist collection along with their recipe.
One family, including mom, dad and two children, spent over 30 minutes making their one bite meals. Mom’s final product recreated the feeling of the first day for short after the long Minnesota winter, using skewering tofu, mint, raspberry, and lemon after marinating each layer.
At the end of the evening I meet a mother and her teen daughter and friends. They were sitting at the artist collection table reading each label. I told them to go ahead and try what every they wanted and they were there for 30 min sampling and laughing. The mother complemented the event and I asked her how she heard about it. She said it was on an email blast she gets and it sounded really “intriguing and fun”. I asked her if they come to the Thursday night events very often. She told me that her daughter had been to the Walker one time before when her grandmother took her to a film last year, and she loved it so she wanted to bring her again. They live in Ham Lake and it was a one-hour drive to come to Amuse Bouche. They had to wait when they first arrived at 7:00 because things we so busy at the Amuse Bouche table, so they walked around the neighborhood and in the sculpture garden. When they came back at 8:00 they made their meals and wrote up their recipes then just read over the other recipes until I came up at 9:00.
We currently have 4 more Walker Kitchen Labs that will be ready to prototype on Thursday night – you are all welcome to come. The currently named Oven, Water, Tea, and Smell labs will be ready for you to try out and play with.
Kitchen Lab at the Target Free Thursday Night
Walker Art Center Open Field
Thursday, June 28 6 PM – 9 Pm