S[h]ift: A thematic convergence of food, art, design (GMA News Online)

Croc paws

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last March 30, 2014)

I’ve had my fair share of restaurant visits and museum trips, but I haven’t been to an event where art, fashion, and food converge – well, not until I attended the launch of S[h]ift Project Art Space in Moderne Culinaire Academy (MCA).

MCA is the Philippines’ newest culinary school, managed by a team of young and talented chefs. It believes that bringing together expertise in various disciplines across different platforms could draw out the talents of Filipinos.

At the recent launch, S[h]ift showed how the school supports local talents by highlighting the works of several renowned artists.

Filmmaker Alvin Yapan and Chef Sau Del Rosario teamed up to create “The Cooking Show,” which is actually a deconstructed version of a television cooking show. They mounted some flat-screen sets on one wall and displayed a different angle on each screen.

Another highlight at the event was “8 Minutes” which exhibited the installation pieces of visual artist Ling Quisumbing Ramilo, Studio XYZ and Chef Edward Mateo.

But what grabbed my attention was the interactive performance of designer Brian Tenorio, Chef Dino Dizon, and DJ Nix Pernia. The trio presented the crowd with a show called “Burning with Design” that revealed Tenorio’s shoe designs alongside the culinary creations of Chef Dizon, and background music by DJ Nix.

The menu of “Burning with Design” began with some Red Sandals, which are crispy pasta sandals topped with spicy tuna tartare and scallions. The creative minds put together an interesting display that used a fish in an aquarium to go with the fun beach theme.

Another menu item that stood out was the Shoelami, where salami with cheese detailing was used in the design of a men’s shoe upper exterior. It was placed on a bed of rolled-up deli meat and looked both stylish and delicious. Throughout the unveiling of each menu item, DJ Nix accompanied it with rhythmic music where the beats were almost sensual.

Another bold menu item was the Corseted calves – pig knuckles shaped into corset boots and stuffed with spicy pig stew. Its striking shape and color made it one of the most memorable pieces of the night.

But the most shocking piece, however,  was the crocodile paw, which the artists entitled “Anatomy of Love and Hate.” Who wouldn’t be surprised with a crocodile’s jaw biting on a fine piece of shoe? Chef Dizon deep fried the croc paws and grilled the croc ribs and used these to violently frame Tenorio’s shoe piece called “Designing the Asshole,” which uses the least commercially used part of crocodile leather. According to the description of the piece, “The shoe design is a homage to Tenorio’s fiercest but fondest memories of someone (or several).”

The last shoe display involved Chef Dizon flambéing Tenorio’s favorite shoe design, as DJ Nix complemented it with a climax of beats and rhythm. The menu item is aptly called “There is a Fire Between Us”, as it demonstrated the chef’s perspective on when is a piece of design work done. Being a shoe lover, I almost cringed when I saw the chef put footwear on fire. But I supposed that kind of drama would be appreciated by most.

It was almost anti-climactic when the chef turned to the last part of the show, “Green Eyes Turn Red”, showcasing how absinthe and camote tops will turn from a green hue to a bold red one. The chef focused on the tower of cocktail glasses and poured a liquid that changed the color of the beverage.

I am no art or culinary expert, just a mere spectator, but  S[h]ift’s first thematic collaboration of food, art, and design did not disappoint. It was truly a feast for the senses as we were all treated to a visual and tasty banquet of unique flavors with ambient music to complete the unforgettable experience.