Virtual Bread, image courtesy of

Virtual Bread (all images courtesy

With artists like Rikrit Tirivanija preparing meals for gallery goers, art lovers are no strangers to food and fine art sharing a dinner plate. But what about concentrating on food itself as an art form? The Umami: Food and Art Festival is a biennial that does just that, and it’s taking place during the month of April with events all over NYC. Started in 2008, the festival brings together artists, film makers, musicians and food professionals, making for a multi-disciplinary approach to eating.

Umami’s Mission Statement:

Umami encourages art based in everyday life and materials, illustrating that art can be found anywhere and can be produced at any time with the simplest means.  The festival’s key objectives are (1) to use food as a common thread to look at and integrate art into daily life and (2) to broaden the horizon of food as an artistic medium.

The festival’s next event is this Thursday at experimental music venue Roulette. The night will feature indie-band One Ring Zero playing songs they’ve scored for lyrics written by rock-star celebrity chefs like Mario Batali (Eataly) and David Chang (King of Momofuku).

The festival encourages non-commercial, time-based art and nontraditional media. Some participating visual artists include include Sharon Glazberg, Tattfoo Fan and Guy Goldstein. Tattfoo Fan’s “Enri¢hed,” a creative exploration of the history and cultural influence of breakfast cereal, sounds particularly inviting.  The event is at Third Ward in Bushwick on April 20, and each participant will design their own box of fortified cereal. What a dream come true for all of you who are kids at heart.

Orphic Memory Sausages by Mimi Oka and Doug Fitch.

The Cooking Art Challenge is another event, during which art and culinary students team up to create potentially edible “hybrid culinary-art pieces.” The calls this event “Work of Art meets Top Chef” — we’re assuming in a good way.

Check here for Umami’s full program.

If you’re wondering what Umami means:

Umami is a subtle and elusive fifth sense of taste (in addition to sweet, salty, bitter and sour) that makes food taste especially fantastic.  The word means “savory” or “meaty” in Japanese, and applies to a sensation commonly found in protein-rich or earthy foods, like meat, cheese, mushrooms and soy sauce.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Rhoni Blankenhorn is a California-born contemporary art writer and consultant, now living in Brooklyn. Find her on twitter @rhonierika.