Culinaria Queries: Is Food Art?

2013 Domino Foods, Inc. Culinaria Query & Lecture Series

The question has been posed since the age of the Greek philosophers: What is art, and what makes it different from the work of a technician or skilled laborer? The query may never be answered conclusively, but it is still being considered. The SoFAB Institute has entered the fray with a series of public discussions held around the country in 2013, all under the banner “Culinaria Query:  Is Food Art?”

The series arose in response to a New York Times article in which the author rejected the idea that food can be art and that chefs can be artists—the author considers them technicians who feed people, who may display the food on the plate prettily, and whose work may hold aesthetic appeal, but who nonetheless remain craftsmen, and their product, craft.  Now the resultant controversy serves as a springboard for discussion of the relationship between food and art.  The age-old questions of what qualifies as art and who qualifies as an artist are being framed in a new way and provocatively debated by panelists from various disciplines and professions.

The series is produced under the aegis of Culinaria, a scholarly monograph series published by the SoFAB Center for Food Law, Policy & Culture, in partnership with the Tulane University Law School.  Culinaria e-publishes peer-reviewed articles on law, policy, and cultural issues involving food and drink in a timely manner, absent the delays common to traditional academic journals.  Some presentations may be published as monographs in Culinaria.

The Queries

Duke University, North Carolina | April 11, 2013

The first Culinaria Query on the subject "Is Food Art?" was held at Duke University in partnership with the Triangle University Food Studies Group.  Panelists Kevin Callaghan, Liz Williams, Bernie Herman, Laura Lieber, and Sharon Holland raised important questions about the accessibility of great food.  The point was raised that too often celebrated restaurants and infamous dishes are solely the amuse-bouche of wealthier individuals.  This socioeconomic divide often renders home-style cooking “unworthy” of recognition.  See the discussion here.

Los Angeles | August 10, 2013

The second panel was led by Moderator Philip Dobard and featured panelists Brandon Boudet, Richard Foss, Betty Fussell, Mat Gleason, John Rivera Sedlar, Andy Smith, and Emily Zaiden. See the discussion here.

New School, New York | September 5, 2013

The third panel discussion of the Culinaria Queries 2013 took place in New York at the New School on September 5th. The panel was moderated by Liz Williams (Founder and President, SoFAB Institute) and featured Fabio Parasecoli (Associate Professor and Coordinator,  Food Studies Program at The New School),  Nino Andonis (Owner, Nino Andonis Photography), Lauren Carter Grimm (Co-Owner and Brewer, Grimm Artisanal Ales), Michael Laiskonis (Creative Director, Institute of Culinary Education and former Le Bernardin pastry chef), and Yael Raviv (Director, Umami Food & Art Festival). See the discussion here.

New Orleans | October 10, 2013

The 2013 Culinaria Queries culminated in New Orleans with the annual Contemporary Issues in Food & Drink Lecture Series presented by Domino Foods, Inc.  Ken Albala, Professor of History at University of the Pacific and Editor of Big City Food Biographies, a series published by AltaMira Press, will be this year’s speaker. This lecture was hosted by the The Louisiana State Museum and the Friends of the Cabildo.

Me as cook

Ken Albala  is Professor of History at the University of the Pacific. He is the author or editor of 16 books on food including Eating Right in the RenaissanceFood in Early Modern EuropeCooking in Europe 1250-1650The Banquet, Beans (winner of the 2008 IACP Jane Grigson Award), and Pancake. He has also co-edited The Business of Food,Human CuisineFood and Faith and edited A Cultural History of Food: The Renaissance and The Routledge International Handbook to Food Studies. Albala was also editor of the Food Cultures Around the World series, the 4-volume Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia and is now series editor of Rowman and Littlefield Studies in Food and Gastronomy for which he has written a textbook entitled Three World Cuisines: Italian, Chinese, Mexican (winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards best foreign cuisine book in the world for 2012). He has alsoco-authored two cookbooks: The Lost Art of Real Cooking and The Lost Arts of Hearth and Home. Forthcoming this year are a Food History Reader, Nuts: A Global History, a small book entitled Grow Food, Cook Food, Share Food and a translation of the 16th century cookbook Livre fort excellent de cuysine. Albala is also now editing a 3 volume encyclopedia on Food Issues.

Domino Foods, Inc. is Title Sponsor of the 2013 CULINARIA Query & Lecture Series.

FOC Black on white
FOC Black on white