The artist’s studio and the household kitchen have at least one thing in common: in both places, people make things. So, what do artists most like to cook? The Kitchen Studio: Culinary Creations by Artists (Phaidon), a new book edited by Michele Robecchi, is a delightful hybrid of art and gastronomy that presents 100 recipes by 70 international contemporary artists. From El Anatsui’s Nigerian Oha soup with fufu to Kiki Smith’s summer salad with shrimp, readers can try out their favorite artist’s favorite dish. But this is much more than a cookbook. It’s a fun and festive compendium of recipes, stories, advice, photos, collages, and sketches, many created for the book and never published until now.
Some of the book’s participating artists — like Martha Rosler and Rirkrit Tiravanija, who contribute Patriotic Jell-o Gelatin Salad and Thai curry pizza recipes, respectively — have long worked with food and cooking in their practices. Others take an unexpected spin on the concept. Studio Olafur Eliasson, for example, instructs readers about food-based pigments, while David Horvitz’s mushroom soup recipe lists “foggy morning” and “wandering in a forest,” alongside butter and onion, as ingredients. In “Two Cherries,” Nicholas Party directs readers to select a sunny July afternoon to walk around the countryside, find two cherries, and spit the stones as far as possible.
Eamon Ore-Giron’s and Danh Vo’s entries both entail hours- and days-long processes. Others incorporate unconventional ingredients: Bernar Venet makes a meal of lamb brains, and Shimabuku learns to prepare kuchiko (dried sea cucumber ovaries). Abraham Cruzvillegas gives a linguistic and historical meditation on guacamole, while John Lyons writes, “I see no difference between painting a picture, writing a poem, or cooking a delicious meal.” Emily Jacir’s cacio e pepe requires only three ingredients, while Vik Muniz advises those who try his ravioli all’uovo recipe to use “as much white truffle as you can afford,” putting the age-old stereotype of the starving artist aside.
“Art and food have entertained a very close relationship over the centuries, from Arcimboldo to the Futurist cookbook,” Robecchi told Hyperallergic in a recent email. The project behind The Kitchen Studio began at the outset of the pandemic, when so many of us started to spend more time in our kitchens. The artists’ recipes give us a glimpse at an intimate part of their daily lives, families, and experiences. And at its core, the book serves as a poignant reminder of the consolation, exploration, and expression that cooking provides us all.
The Kitchen Studio: Culinary Creations by Artists is published by Phaidon and available online.