This was a Sunday evening like no other. Held in the beautiful, award-winning atrium of the Auckland Art Gallery, ArtDEGO stunned 110 diners with a series of courses thoughtfully brought together by pairs of top Auckland chefs and up and coming artists.
The concept was dreamed up by Auckland collective and website, Gather and Hunt in 2012 to celebrate Auckland art week, and to provide a way of making art accessible - nothing is more approachable than a plate of food.
It's expanded ever since, and this year tickets sold out in a matter of hours. Lucky ticket holders were treated to a night involving a temporary art exhibition, live performance and installation.
What we ate:
Cocktails and Canapes: Mixologist Laura Lopez created two very special cocktails served beautifully in crystal cut glasses with giant cubes of ice. With a Rogue Society gin base, diners could choose to top with little bottles of either lemongrass, ginger, lychee and grapefruit bitters; or rinquinquin a la peche, rhubarb syrup, lemon and chipotle. They were spicy, sweet and interesting, and the perfect companion to Liam Fox of the Blue Breeze Inn's light canapes.
Course One: A trio of puréed delights from chef Joao Martins of The Offal Club, inspired by performance artist Ryan Ballinger's runner's diet. Ryan performed throughout the course, which involved breaking a sweat as he ran 10K on a spotlit treadmill. As such, the canapes were served in the kind of tubes marathon runners suck gels from. An unusual sensation!
Course Two: "The Big Breakfast" by Clooney's Ian Harrison, inspired by Stafford Allpress' miniature sculptures. Each diner received a tiny, individually designed match box containing an even smaller envelope, accompanied by a magnifying glass to read a secret message before being served the artist's national dish in miniature - a greasy spoon English breakfast. Ian Harrison played with expectations with bacon-tasting salmon skin, mini fried eggs made with gels and salmon roe baked beans. Served with Mount Edward Clockwork 2013, Central Otago.
Course Three: Kazuya Yamauchi of fine dining Japanese restaurant Kazuya was inspired by Joseph's timelapse photography of starry skies by Wanaka. Whilst his stunning video screened, diners enjoyed an exquisite plate of scallops, wakame, sesame, mushroom, cocoa and miso, matched with Shochikubai Shirakabegura Kimoto Ginjyo of Takara Brewery.
Course Four: Course four involved another performative element, with composer and incredibly talented instrumentalist, Claire Cowan, taking to the stage to perform a looped cello and Flamenco piece. Chef Mikey Newlands of Bracu restaurant was inspired by the earthiness and passion of the work, and served a melt in the mouth dish of pork jowl, white asparagus, cauliflower, wild weeds and paprika, which matched beautifully with a Nautilus Estate Museum Pinot Noir. (Catch Mikey at our Miele Chef's Table Series Cooking Demonstration in December!)
Course Five: The evening culminated in a dramtically elegant dish from Megan May of Little Bird Organics. Titled "Bird's Eye View", the dish was served in a giant fish bowl enveloping a cloud of dry ice, which diners had to blow away to reveal a perfectly balanced dessert of raw cacao, raspberry, sichuan pepper, candied enoki and buckwheat. It was served with Xandy's Handcrafted Kombucha with lychee, lemon verbena and lemongrass.