What happens when you combine a Collection of THINKERS,
a World Renowned CHEF and a FOOD FUTUREOLOGIST?

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The answer is general confusion if last night is anything to go by. Oh where to begin? As a food journalist and an ex-Central Saint Martins graduate the prospect of a food/art event in East London organised by MA students from my alma mater sounded like the sort of hip, urban, fusion event I should attend. And attend I did after an invite from one of them via twitter.

About 7ish I found the venue, and upon entering was given a booklet (more on this later) and told to experience the food, particular attention was drawn to the accompanying green stickers that I was to stick next to each course after I’d tried it – right. The hosts broke the cardinal rule of London event organising by not having a drink ready on arrival, there was one girl pouring out water, no one handing it round, and lots of cocktail glasses and wine glasses standing empty on the table. Confusion seemed very much in charge.

The food here is terrible, and the portions are too small. – Woody Allen

Wandering round this table to the kitchen I heard someone exclaim ‘everyone’s come at once!’ The kitchen obviously couldn’t cope, and that left me, Chris, Lizzie, Helen and Charlie waiting, for what seemed like an entire epoc.  When the food did issue forth from the kitchen there wasn’t really enough to go around.

And so to the menu, which was a prime piece of codswallop marinated in nonsense. I almost resent typing it out but here it is.

  1. Asparagus in textures, cooked and raw, gelee and granite with garnishes.
  2. Young carrots – crisply chopped, marinated whole
  3. English spring peas- on the half shell with liquid gel and flowers
  4. Sprouting broccoli, egg yolk spheres, and warm mayonnaise
  5. Jersey Royals prepared in many ways with seasonal garnishes
  6. Radishes- dug up from the earth, crispy soil
  7. Cauliflower- Couscous pickled and puree. Apple air
  8. Wild garlic with its flowers warm and cold. Vegetable ribbons
  9. Strawberries and rhubarb. Hazelnut powder and reduce milk
  10. Berry bundles

Crisply chopped? Prepared many ways? I tried one dish with slices of courgette on, was the number 8? There were no flowers on it, but there was a sphere of something and a pickled onion sort of thing – I didn’t know where to stick my sticker. I think number 2 had to be the worst. It was a tiny carrot, topped with tasteless foam, next to some frozen carrot pulp, the entire lot tasting of…cold wet carrot.

Eventually one chap then started making something to drink other than the water. A single shot of vodka was measured out slowly from a solitary bottle, added to a ladle of lychee juice and then divided into four glasses. I’m no a ligger or a lush, but the bare minimum when you invite someone to a food and drink ‘event’ is to provide plenty of those two very things. I was offered a berry bundle. It was a raspberry (from Tesco’s across the road according to the packet in the kitchen) wrapped in jelly, unsurprisingly it tasted like a raspberry.

Misspelt muddled manifesto.

And so to the accompanying booklet. As Chris said ‘I’ve read it three times and I still don’t understand it’. I had a read, I tried to get into it, I really did – look at the concentration. But my eyes kept sliding of meaningless words and pointless graphics.

Evocative Foods

Take this for example.

“We felt that ‘we’ as a whole have lost our capability to be enchanted by the world that surrounds us. To re-establish the once magical connection between our Selves [sic] and different interactions that compose our universe”

What on Earth does that mean? That makes no sense whatsoever. Over the page were more bonkers graphics, such as this.

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Mind. Body. What if… mind and body were joined? Hands up who’s mind isn’t joined to their body?  But the best of all was the following on the ‘who are we’ page.

“A group of CSM’ers on their Masters, who’ve been given a project to do and attacked it with vigour. Creative, Inquisitive, Curious, Hopeful and sometimes blinded by Enthusiasm, we are students and proffesionals, [sic] who just like you…
Have ideas.”

So far I can forgive the random caps scattered throughout the book, but of all the words to misspell professional is very much not the one (The other howler was characteristics in the paragraph above). I went to art school so by default I can’t spell either, but if I was getting something printed I’d at least get it subbed.

If you can’t say anything nice…

Making anything is hard work, I know that, but these are MA students doing a masters for heaven’s sake. If they’d spent more time on the food and the organization and less time on the navel gazing arty nonsense it could have worked. As it was it was just really unclear what exactly we as an audience were supposed to be doing; and eating a raspberry does not make me re-establish a magical connection with the Universe. Art and food have a long and close relationship, from the Last Supper to Sarah Lucas’ two fried eggs and a kebab. This however had the feel of an event put together by a losing team in an early round of  the Apprentice.

What’s more they charged people for this event, and once you’ve asked folk to put their hand in their pocket and pay for something they expect to get it.  If this had been a free event (though it was to me) I wouldn’t have minded so much, I would have said ‘well done for trying’. But my friends had paid £30 to be there it took alot of beers and lovely Vietnamese food in Old Street afterwards to get rid of the bitter taste of disappointment in our mouths.