This month we’re celebrating art in all its shapes and forms, inspired by one of the most popular art festivals in the country – the Grahamstown National Arts Festival.
The way in which artists express themselves and the source of their inspiration is as colourful and diverse as art itself, but our favourite is definitely the inspiration food provides to artists. Think Da Vinci’s Last Supper, the Dutch Golden Age painters with their rich, dark and realistic still lifes and even Warhol’s bananas and soup cans.
But the opposite is also true, as the art of plating food is nowadays as important as the taste.
The concept of plating kicked off in France during the 1800s, with the father of grande cuisine, Marie-Antoine Careme. Careme was also an enthusiastic amateur architecture student, which influenced the presentation of his creations. But his grande, theatrical and architecturally sound creations were only enjoyed by a small percentage of the population – the elite.
French chef Georges Auguste Escoffier – whose name also popped up when we looked at the origin of the tasting menu – changed the way people ate when he introduced the a la carte menu. This also influenced the manner in which meals were served and included a broader audience than just Careme’s elite.
Another French great Paul Bocuse’s refined and styled creations entrenched the aesthetics of the nouvelle cuisine during the 1960’s, and so the art of plating grew and developed into the artform that it is today.
Here at The Roundhouse we take our inspiration from the seasons – not only the colours and seasonal ingredients, but also the emotional connection each season brings.
“Waking up in the cold, crisp mornings give us inspiration to keep the plating clean and new, fresh and ‘in the moment’,” says head chef Dylan Laity. “Colours like brown, red, orange and white are always present at these times and we try to keep everything on our plates within these colours.”
Laity also highlighted the colour contrast of the natural green herbs of the season, providing a welcome contrast to the season’s warm colours. “Dishes such as the Karoo ostrich demonstrate this idea down to a T. The fruits give us the brown, as the mushroom powder and the sauce, the meat a beautiful deep red, and then is topped off with some crispy green spinach to give us the contrast. The ingredients will always show us the way.”