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Is food "CREATION art?

Since arriving on the CH site late Christmas Eve, all aspects of food have rampantly overtaken vast areas of my thinking. A kind of ethnic thought cleansing is the manner in which I could describe the process. Here is a current thought that followed from my dream state and which I am ruminating over at present in place of preparing for my workday.

Is food "Creation" art ?

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  1. It can be. Unfortunately, it rarely is. Those very rare great chefs who come up with totally new recipes that quickly are adopted (as opposed to adapted) world wide are certainly creating art works. However, few practicing chefs have the time to be creative. Their job is to REcreate the same dishes night after night to keep their cusomers happy.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Caroline1

      Thanks for your reflective response Caroline 1.
      I'm now wondering if master food creaters have longevity.
      Is there, for instance, a Rembrandt or Mozart of this art form?

      1. re: fruglescot

        Two off the top of my head are Antonin Careme (1784-1833), and Auguste Escoffier (1847-1935). There were others, though none I can think of of equal brilliance. Like all of the arts, death seems to instill value on the artist's work.

        Both Careme and Escoffier earned their reputations for brilliance through long years of exceptional culinary perfromance. There are other culinary artists who shine brilliantly with one dish, then fade from glory unless the dish bears their name. Caesar's salad is such a dish, and bears the creator's first name. But who remembers the name of the chef who created Chicken Marengo for Napoleon Bonaparte? Or the chef who created Peche Melba?

        So much for Rembrandt and Mozart. Only history will tell us if there are any Bealtes or Elvises among us now...

    2. I think that by any definition you wish to ascribe to, cooking is an 'artistic' endeavor "The products of human creativity", "the creation of beautiful or significant things", "the term usually implies some degree of aesthetic value", etc. etc. When you cook, you are creating something that will appeal to several senses of the consumer (visual, smell taste), you are most likely endeavoring to express yourself in your creation and doing so with the intent of creating pleasure for others. You almost always put your own distinctive touch into a dish, even if you are just following a recipe. There are only 12 notes you can play on a piano, yet the 'last great composition' will never be written. So, as there are really only a few 'tastes' that we can experience, we will never (gladly) be served the 'last great dish known to man'. Some are clearly more creative and artisitic than others in the kitchen, but cooking is as much a creatvie art form as music, sculpture, etc. When I "riff" on a great standard recipe' and turn out something truly wonderful, I think I must feel like a great Jazz musician does.

      1 Reply
      1. re: bnemes3343

        Very well expressed.
        Thank you bnemes3343
        More thoughts to ponder on the RUSH , now, to work..

      2. It is most certainly art!!! From the grilled cheese sandwich I prepare for my kids to the turkey I massaged with butter on Christmas day. For some drudgery, for me it is the deepest expression of the human experience. To prepare food and serve to others is a deep and profound experience. I give of myself, my time, my experience. I want to express that I care and wish to nuture. This that I give will sustain you when life is challenging and despair is starting to surface. Real food prepared by someone with a name and a face is art. Multi-national fast food restaurants are an abomination and corruption of that art.

        1. Food is not art, and chefs are not artists. It is a craft.

          19 Replies
          1. re: Steve

            there is a point where food is no longer primarily food, it is an experiential thing. see some of the recent discussion on the creations of cutting-edge small plates places. there is also a point where "food" becomes refined to the point that it *becomes* "cuisine" which leads to canonization of techniques and recipes, and schools teaching these canons in rigid environments, in the same way people expect to train musicians in a conservatory environment.

            1. re: Steve

              I agree with Steve.
              A chef can instruct the staff of a restaurant to prepare a recipe he has devised for the patrons of that restaurant in New York while he flies off to check on the one in Shanghai.
              Yo-Yo Ma can't pass out cellos and ask cellists to play while he takes a night off.

              1. re: MakingSense

                I don't pretend to have the answers to all this. But I like the question.

                Big admirer of your posts, Making Sense, but I'm not sure your analogy works as well as it might. I'm searching here. The difference between Yo-Yo Ma and other cellists is the ability/proficiency of the other cellists. So who is the artist? Is it the composer, the person who dreamt up the music; or the musician (Yo-Yo Ma) interpreting the music? When does the act of creation occur?

                Certain technical or craft skills are required to play music in addition to some emotional/interpretative ability. So, at what level does artistry occur? When does craft transcend into art? A glorious performance that brings a new infusion of passion and interpretation? (A new dish, a new menu, a new flavor structure or philosophy of cooking?) What about a skillful performance that accurately plays the work as written on the page? (A cook repetitively cooking a chef's recipe?) Is that craft? What about an improvisation upon what's written on the sheet of music? (A new twist on a classic dish?) Is that art?

                Is the composer the only true artist in music because he created it? Is the act of playing music from the written sheet artistry because it creates sound where there was none? Or is that craft? Or does it depend upon the level of play and interpretation?

                I see I am merely asking more questions.

                I personally find the act of tinkering while cooking creative: fine-tuning a recipe, adding a new flavor that works, creating a brand new dish or creating some unusual visual appeal for a dish. I create a tall uneven sculptural wall as the outer crust for my cheesecake that faintly resembles a Roman ruin. Each time I do it it's tricky, and tedious, and looks different from every other time I've done it. Perhaps what I find most satisfying about cooking is creating something new, or transforming ingredients through some informed alchemy into a dish. So newness and transformation are keys to my own creativity in cooking. Clearly, there's some skill at play but also some improvisatory hunches that often work. Is that art or craft or both?

                Sydney Pollack, the film director, had a great quote I heard a while ago. He loves to cook, and he said he loved cooking dinner because it was an act of creation with immediate satisfaction and replenishment. [Unlike film.]

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  It is only necessary to go to a piano recital with several students playing the same piece to see the difference. A technically perfect rendition might pale in comparison to another with a few errors played by a student who has a feeling for the music to which he somehow gives emotion.
                  Many cooks can follow recipes precisely with quality ingredients but the results are quite ordinary yet others can turn a few simple supermarket purchases or what's left in the refrigerator into wonderful meals, like riffs in jazz, the most ephemeral of music. You won't have it again the same way. Craft? It does require some level of skill. Art? Does everyone who might eat it have any idea that it carries the emotions of the creator? I doubt it. They only know whether they personally like it or not.
                  I think of Jacques Pepin's comment that you can give 10 cooks the same recipe and they will produce 10 completely different dishes. Each will purchase slightly varied ingredients, interpret the directions in slightly different ways, use different equipment, make differing judgments about when to add something or when it's "done," and present the final dish is different fashions. Some will be excellent, others mediocre, and there may be failures.
                  This is how many of us cook but this isn't what's happening in restaurant kitchens where the same dish is turned out over and over again assembly-line fashion, regardless of who "wrote the music." It's the same old song, no riffs, forget the emotion, and that's not art.

                  1. re: MakingSense

                    Very much in tune (sorry for the pun) with you, but you got to admit that the diner having that dish for the first time is/can be inspired emotionally by the artist's original creation (even if its now duplicated and therefor not the original art per se).

                    Just because the Mona Lisa has been seen by you does not make it any less wonderous to me.

                    I realize that we are both viewing the same painting and that in the restaurant, as good as the assembly line may work, it never is exactly the same as the true original. Nevertheless, in the best kitchens which are usually run/inspired by the best chefs/artists the dishes should be an extremely accurate (at least as humanly possible) reenactment of the original. That consistency as we all know is what brings the coveted stars after the original creations are deemed worthy, of course.

                    1. re: eatnbmerry

                      Agree. Though your explanation makes me realize why I get that been-there-done-that feeling about the consistency of the three and four stars with the perfect food, décor and service.
                      I don't want to eat in museums.

                      Increasingly, I'm drawn back to perfect fried chicken, chefs who went to the local market that morning, a friend's gumbo, neighborhood bakeries, and all the other people and places where food is being prepared for me - not just for themselves - and for the pleasure of the food itself. That food has the spark of creativity, constant riffing.
                      If food is living art, that's where its soul is found.
                      I live to eat the kind of food that people keep alive because they truly love it as part of their daily lives.

                      1. re: MakingSense

                        TOUCHE! And what is more artful than that!

                    2. re: MakingSense

                      In film school, I learned a valuable lesson - art pre-supposes skill. Skill, alone, is not art.

                      Hunt

                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Thank you for saying something I've felt for years. I know people who are skilled in many fields - painting, food, music - but just because you can do something, it isn't necessarily art.

                    3. re: maria lorraine

                      Well stated (as usual). It is in the performance, that art is created. The material might suffer a myriad of problems, but the right performer will take it beyond and tanesend all else. I've experience mediocre pieces, performed by artists, that set the bar, and set it high. As a visual artist, I always strive to create the ultimate expression, even for mundane items. I attempt to create the visual, by which that subject will always be judged. I want other photographers and visual artists to say, "OK, that has been done, and we can never do better. Let's move on... "

                      Hunt

                    4. re: MakingSense

                      MakingSense,

                      That actually DISAGREES with Steve. You are correct about the Yo-Yo Ma analong. One can play the notes, but that does not make it "art." It's about a lot more. A very large lot more. Some get it, but most do not.

                      Hunt

                    5. re: Steve

                      By all means chefs are artists, by definition, and thus the food they create is indeed their art...

                      art: 1: skill acquired by experience, study, or observation 3: an occupation requiring knowledge or skill

                      synonyms art, skill, cunning, artifice, craft mean the faculty of executing well what one has devised. art implies a personal, unanalyzable creative power <the art of choosing the right word>. skill stresses technical knowledge and proficiency <the skill of a glassblower>. cunning suggests ingenuity and subtlety in devising, inventing, or executing <a mystery plotted with great cunning>. artifice suggests technical skill especially in imitating things in nature <believed realism in film could be achieved only by artifice>. craft may imply expertness in workmanship <the craft of a master goldsmith>.

                      1. re: crt

                        Sorry, but the definition you give of art has no bearing on this thread. What human activity, aside from dribbling saliva out of the side of your mouth, is NOT "a skill acquired by experience, study, or observation?"

                        The OP was not talking about "The Art of Getting a Good Scholarship" or "The Art of Setting a Table." The OP was trying to make a connection between the creation that chefs do and what painters or composers or choreograhers, etc do. An interesting idea, I admit, but one that I do not subscribe to.

                        1. re: Steve

                          "...and chefs are not artists."

                          I was addressing you, and your statement, Steve. Didn't you see the 're: Steve' pointer? You brought it up, not the 'OP'. You're certainly entitled to your opinion, but just because you or others 'don't subscribe to it', doesn't mean that just as many people do. It's just a matter of one opinion over another.

                          1. re: Steve

                            Steve,

                            I am afraid that you have missed too much in your culinary experiences. If you have not experienced “art,” then you are the loser in this. I, on the other hand, HAVE experienced “art” in culinary endeavors. I feel badly for you.

                            Hunt

                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              Eh, don't feel so badly for me, I am a dedicated Chowhound who has found all around me (with some considerable effort) a wide variety of sublime, inexpensive eating experiences that are transporting. You've heard of Armchair Travel? I call it "Bar Stool Travel."

                        2. re: Steve

                          This is a sentiment, that I often hear. In most areas of the world, people eat to live. In certain others, they live to eat. There is a big difference. Only a true fan of the culinary arts could discern the differences. For those who do not know the differences, I feel great pain.

                          A pianist can play all of the right notes, but that does not mean that they are fulfilling the full extent of the music. A chef, or a cook, can hit the right notes, but there is still more that needs to come thorugh.

                          Hunt

                          1. re: Steve

                            I must respectfully disagree. I am a visual artist by training and profession. I'm also a home cook. My cooking, as a process, works the same as when I am working on a painting, drawing, or a sculpture. These endeavours also have a craft aspect to them. A drawing can be purely functional, as in plans or diagrams, in which case it's not art, or it can express something of human aspiration and creativity. Sometimes with both activities, I have great successes, and sometimes, failures. I never have complete control over either, and when I improvise, I often hit upon something wonderful. Paint or a tomato.

                            1. re: Steve

                              To be clear though I'd say that food is not a FINE art (like painting or sculpture) but is an "art" (or craft) like shoe making or furniture making. Fine art has no practical utility like a boot or a dresser or a meal does.

                            2. I have been served dishes that were not that visually appealing, but made my mouth dance with joy, the same feeling I get from watching a good opera, ballet or listening to music. I have also been served dishes that were presented in such an artistic way that they were so beautiful you almost hated to mess them up by eating them, and they also tasted so good that it made my mouth dance with joy! So, to me, it can be an art form, in a roundabout way. It just isn't permanent like a painting is, except in my memories!

                              19 Replies
                              1. re: danhole

                                Food is meant only to give sustenance or pleasure or both. That has nothing to do with art.

                                1. re: Steve

                                  I agree with Steve. There is nothing wrong with calling cooking a craft. That doesn't belittle it. I know someone who considers dancing and acting both crafts, and the playwrights and choreographers the artists. Cooking doesn't mean anything beyond itself. Giving pleasure isn't enough.

                                  1. re: Glencora

                                    If I take a mediocre script and create a wonderful interpretation of it onto film, is the “art” mine, or the scrip writer, who did a so-so job? To me, it all depends on the execution, AND the final result. Was “A Wonderful Life,” the “art” of the screen writer, or Frank Capra?

                                    Sorry, but I do not quite buy into this train of thought.

                                    Hunt

                                  2. re: Steve

                                    I said ". . . an art form, in a roundabout way." I also expressed that was my opinion, not a fact. I thought that was allowed.

                                    1. re: Steve

                                      And what does great music impart besides pleasure? Great art? AND, you can't eat a Van Gogh. Based on any written definition of 'art' that you want to pick, it is hard not to read it and dismiss creative and great culinary skills as anything other than an art. But if you want to consider it a craft, so be it - I think we all can agree we enjoy the end product when it's well done.

                                      1. re: bnemes3343

                                        "What does great music impart besides pleasure?" I hope you're kidding.
                                        In art, pleasure is not even a given. Last night I saw a grim play about inner city gangs that was horrifying and revolting. I might consider it great art, but it certainly gave me no pleasure. Ideas, emotions, and physicality in art can all run the gamut from unlimited possibilities. THAT is what art offers INSTEAD of 'pleasure.'

                                        1. re: Steve

                                          Yes, one of the primary attributes of art is that it inspires emotional reponses that can and do run the gamut.

                                          Another, is that it is original in the sense that it embodies the personal expression(s) (often innermost) of the artist. Even though you may not have been a "founding member" of the Impressionist Movement or Cubism or Stream of Consciousness or Existentialism and on and on, doesn't mean that your creation/vision is any less original.

                                          If you are not a Rembrandt or Mozart or a Beatles or Elvis or Warhol is entirely irrelevant. The popularity or consensus opinion doesn't make you any less an artist as long as you are creating and effecting emotional response there to be it for or against be it pleasurable or disgusting.

                                          The cook/chef/slave (the name is just semantics) who CREATED the first pizza was an artist, the many who continue to make the same pizza are not. However, the few who from that pizza go on to CREATE something new (can be as little as making it "white" or as daring as adding golden caviar like what Puck did at Spago) are Arist too again subject to the gamut of emotional responses.

                                          I purposely chose the "common pizza" because art is not based on granduer but on creativity. In fact, to many (myself included), great art is nothing more nor less than taking the mundane/routine and creating a new vision, causing new emotional reactions to spring forth.

                                          A "still life" is as ordinary as fruits in a basket, but in Rembrandt's hand, those fruits take on a life of their own and bring to mind the faraway lands from which they sprouted or the farmers who picked them and so forth. Pizza can be as "ordinary" as __________ (fill in your favorite local spot) or can be transformed into something entirely different (Spago's version is again a great example) which causes one to reflect anew and wonder what else may be.

                                          So yes, Chefs can be artists, but not all are, just like all artists are not Chefs.

                                          1. re: eatnbmerry

                                            Not just emotions must be imparted, but ideas and physicality as well.

                                            The problem with considering food, or decorating, or the making of any craft as art is that these craftsmen are trying to please people with a commodity. If there are any ideas and emotions involved, even the first time a dish is created, they are simplistic and can hardly be considered new, even if the product is new. As where a work of art can be so complicated as to be never fully appreciated even after years and years of study.

                                            1. re: Steve

                                              While certainly not discounting your valid points...

                                              May I say that artists work to effect emotional responses. If it causes ideas to flourish than it is only from the initiating emotion(s), again running the gamut.

                                              Granted the artist can zero in on portrayals that will evoke certain emotional response which than leads to formulating specific ideas therefrom. Isn't it interesting that we call them masters of their craft at this stage if they are indeed able to achieve this bridge if you will.

                                              Picasso's Guernica is a perfect example. You FEEL discombabulated, fragmented and yes (like you say after further study) eventually rage. Then you realize its because so much innocent life was lost so quickly for so little. The idea that war is bad, Nazism evil, whatever, comes after the emotional response. Whether you continue to feel other emotions and derive other ideas on subsequent viewings can be viewed as adding heightened art value. But the length of time that it takes you to experience these newer feeelings and/or meanings is not relevant in the least.

                                              That is the artistic way, to evoke emotional response and hopefully create ideas which motivate and drive (the masters even try to steer) subsequent human endeavors. On the whole it is rarely achieved and thats why we have so few real masters.

                                              On the other hand, when you are dealing in the realm of primarily ideas than you are talking about what scientists do. And yes it may take forever to figure out some of their work (I for one never got past fundamental derivatives and integrals much to the chagrin of my "I want a doctor" parents).

                                              And aren't scientist generally portrayed as the antithesis of artist? Of course, and thats because they deal solely with ideas and try to stay as far away from emotion as possible.

                                              The great chef is much more like the artisit than the scientist. Even, I have to admit that Spaniard Ferran Adrià and his test tube foam creations appear to borrow more from the scientific world then any self respecting artist would ever admit to :). But even he, regardless of the methods employed to get there, wants to create a dish/taste/memory that evokes an emotional response. One that is unique and inventive, that lifts the human condition to a higher plane of understanding, of evolvement. In this respect, while as previously outlined their modus operandi differ, the artist and scientist DO have the same end goal.

                                              Einstein (a scientist with a lot of artist in him LOL) said it best when he said it was all relative.

                                              Steve, you write very well and I enjoy reading your posts. TC

                                          2. re: Steve

                                            I like this line about pleasure not being a given in art. And the example of the play.

                                            I've worked as a creative professional all my life and I love when a performance (of any sort) breaks new ground, when there has been some historical invention in the field of endeavor. I think about creativity a lot, what it is, isn't, and what seems to inspire it in me and others.

                                            But in regards to this play, you considered this art. Why? Because it was performed? Because the ideas were new? Were the actors artists? They were repeating another's lines. Was the playwright who wrote the play an artist? Because he invented something new? Was the overall performance art?

                                            What about the 50th time this play is performed (hypothetically speaking)? Are the ideas still new? Are the actors artists then? And what about a brilliant performance of some Shakespeare play? The ideas aren't new, the ideas weren't even new to Shakespeare, and you know the gist of the play. Is that art?

                                            I don't ask with any pretense to knowledge, but am searching along with you.
                                            [borrowed that from Plato]

                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                              Plato the artist as opposed to Aristotle the scientist :).

                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                Maria,

                                                It is still art because the viewers are reacting emotionally to the performers nuances and of course the original playwright/score etc.
                                                Now whether its bad or tired art, now that is another question entirely. By the way, actors can also be artists or merely mimickers, in which case they can join SAG.

                                                1. re: eatnbmerry

                                                  I was using Steve's parameters above to frame my questions.

                                                  So, eatnbmerry, are you saying that the viewer/consumer of the art must be emotionally moved for the performance to be considered art? Are there activities outside the fine arts that can be considered art? Steve, I'm supposing, says no.

                                                  So is what makes it art the nobility/newness of the concept or the brilliance in execution? What is it? Does art always deal with ideas?

                                                  I'm just trying to get a handle on Steve's definition of art. And then use that to see if it can ever be applied to cooking or the end product.

                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                    Like Steve and I both agree on I think, moved doesn't have to mean in a positve direction necessarily. You can also say that having no reaction is by its very definition also a response although perhaps a bit nihilistic (you were the one that brought up philosophers).

                                                    But Maria the real question is do you think that chefs can be artists? P

                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                      So here is my definition of art. It's my own, not from any other source whatsoever:

                                                      Art is a man-made imitation of life in order to tell us something important that we didn't already know.

                                                      In order to imitate life, a complete work of art must represent the three ways life manifests itself: the intellectual, the emotional, and the physical. When an actor says "I need you" the idea could be "but it's not enough", the emotion could be a sense of hollowness, and the physical could be slamming a fist down on a table. But all three have to be present or it comes out flat or wrong or incomplete.

                                                  2. re: maria lorraine

                                                    The performing arts are evanescent. Notes on a page, lines of a play. They are meant to be performed, and then the performance vanishes. Tennessee Williams once said that a play on paper is only the shadow of a play, the blueprint for a play.

                                              2. re: Steve

                                                "Food is meant only to give sustenance or pleasure or both. That has nothing to do with art." By the same token, a rock is simply the result of geological force. But a person with vision & skill can transform this rock into sculpture or architecture..
                                                The transformation is the art, not the base materials IMO.

                                                1. re: meatn3

                                                  Then given the dearth of basic ingredients available to a chef (certainly in terms of flavors) you have absolutely made the point that a chef can be an artist. Thanks you!

                                                  1. re: meatn3

                                                    Yes, nature is not art. Art must be man-made. But not everything that is man-made is art, no matter how well it's made.

                                              3. As great art stimulates thought, evokes emotion, provokes debate is controversial I believe I can safely say, judging by the comments thus far, that there may be art in the question posed.
                                                Thanking you all for your erudite replies.
                                                PS; and if Rodin had created his masterful sculpture 'The Thinker' from cream cheese ? Art or Kraft........?

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: fruglescot

                                                  "PS; and if Rodin had created his masterful sculpture 'The Thinker' from cream cheese ? Art or Kraft........?"

                                                  The only certainty is that it would have been displayed in Philadelphia.

                                                2. I think of chefs as both artists and craftsmen (or women) - artists when they create new dishes, craftsmen when they are able to recreate it on a daily basis in their kitchens. I think of "art" as something that is created once - i.e., the Mona Lisa, and "craft" as the ability to create the same thing over and over again, hopefully at a high level of craftsmanship, i.e., furniture makers.

                                                  1. So does my rendering of the Eiffel Tower in carrots make me an artist?

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: beevod

                                                      Yes, but only on a cruise ship.

                                                    2. "Food is not art, and chefs are not artists."

                                                      "The OP was trying to make a connection between the creation that chefs do and what painters or composers or choreograhers,..."

                                                      "Food is meant only to give sustenance or pleasure or both. That has nothing to do with art."

                                                      And to the rest of those of the opinion that food is not art and or chefs are not artists...(click on photos to enlarge)

                                                       
                                                       
                                                       
                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: crt

                                                        "A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS"
                                                        Thanks Clarke,
                                                        for making your pictorial reinforced submission.
                                                        It was time for those arguing "PRO", for food creation as art to, serve up some
                                                        visually delectable examples.

                                                        NOTE: To those commenting
                                                        Please feel free to submit additional visuals

                                                        1. re: crt

                                                          Please tell us at what point does it become a crafts project and no longer primarily a small morsel of food?

                                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                                            I don't know how one can look at the pictures I've provided and not come away knowing that the chef indeed had an artistic vision when creating these foods/dishes. Personally, I've never heard of the term 'craft vision'.

                                                            1. re: crt

                                                              You're stretching. Your kid has "artistic vision" when he makes a gimp lanyard at camp or all that "art-work" hanging on your fridge.

                                                              Many define "craft" as the creation of useful things. Quilts, pottery vases, beautiful woodworking, a Stadivarius, gold jewelry, handmade chocolates, artisan cheeses, woven potholders, knitted mittens, spun sugar, etc.
                                                              Do those things serve a purpose? Of course they do.

                                                              If all that foo-foo food serves no purpose but the ego of the chef, who gives a rat's ass? They should be proud to be called fine craftsmen.

                                                        2. "Food is not art, and chefs are not artists."

                                                          "The OP was trying to make a connection between the creation that chefs do and what painters or composers or choreograhers,..."

                                                          "Food is meant only to give sustenance or pleasure or both. That has nothing to do with art."

                                                          And to the rest of those of the opinion that food is not art and or chefs are not artists...(click on photos to enlarge)

                                                           
                                                           
                                                           
                                                          1. "Food is not art, and chefs are not artists."

                                                            "The OP was trying to make a connection between the creation that chefs do and what painters or composers or choreograhers,..."

                                                            "Food is meant only to give sustenance or pleasure or both. That has nothing to do with art."

                                                            And to the rest of those of the opinion that food is not art and or chefs are not artists...(click on photos to enlarge)

                                                             
                                                             
                                                             
                                                            1. "So here is my definition of art.

                                                              Art is a man-made imitation of life in order to tell us something important that we didn't already know."

                                                              Yours is a very narrow definition of art. It serves only to reinforce your own narrow opinion that food is not art and chefs are not artists.

                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                                                              8 Replies
                                                              1. re: crt

                                                                Since my definition can cover theatre, dance, music, sculpture, painting, architecture, happenings, film, and almost any human endeavor where someone is trying to say something important and creative about life, I'm not sure exactly how limiting it is.... but I do believe art should have a separate meaning from craft or skill.

                                                                So let's take a test:

                                                                Let's say that there's an Escoffier recipe that you consider to be a work of art, that you could acquire the original hand written recipe, but that also you were the only one who could ever recreate this recipe if you so choose.

                                                                Would you rather be the owner of this recipe or an original Picasso? And you can't resell or profit monetarily from either.

                                                                Which would you choose? Which would have more intrinsic value to you? The greatest chef/artist versus the greatest painting/artist. Head to head. You're watching Duel on ABC.

                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                  Because this is a food site, the results of this poll are very skewed. I've asked a lot of non-foodies this question and they've all agreed that food is not art. FWIW, I think Steve's definition is a good one.

                                                                2. re: crt

                                                                  Your conclusion is that someone who does not agree with you is narrow-minded.

                                                                  Two photographs that you show are the work of excellent photographers using the skills of food stylists. Are they artists too? Is everyone?
                                                                  I doubt that anyone would consume a derivative replica of the painting of the Mona Lisa which we might note is being handled by gloved hands. The medium is certainly not the message.
                                                                  This has devolved into "playing with food," and in some cases rendering some or all of it inedible. Not art. Waste.

                                                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                                                    Please re-read my post. I did not say that someone was narrow minded. What I said was that in my view they have a narrow opinion of the definition of art. You and I can and obviously do disagree on that. However, I don't appreciate it when people try to imply that I said (wrote) something that I didn't. Beyond this subject, I do not know Steve personally so I would never say that he is narrow minded.

                                                                    1. re: crt

                                                                      I think I can safely say that we all share an incredible love for food and respect the folks who work so hard to prepare it. Whether or not anyone has elevated a plate of food to a work of art is open to debate. I'd love to see it.

                                                                      Eat well and be merry!

                                                                      1. re: crt

                                                                        Per your instructions, I read it again but I'm still not willing to parse words over the difference between your saying that someone has a narrow mind, and their not having a broad enough "opinion" to agree with you that cooking of a certain type is art.

                                                                        Steve's definition of the visual and performing arts is pretty broadly encompassing but, as he said, it still doesn't include crafts and skills, many of which are highly regarded, if not revered in many cultures, including our own.
                                                                        It certainly does not diminish the value of fine cooks nor chefs to call them craftsmen. They are trained or self-taught, many are geniuses in their own rights, they produce useful things which add to the enjoyment of life for others and give themselves pleasure whether they profit from it financially or not.
                                                                        Those of us who participate in CH obviously have high regard for those who grow, sell, produce, cook and otherwise provide our food, but we're happy to honor them by calling them fine craftsmen when that's deserved. I think a lot of us are siding with Steve. I am.

                                                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                                                          "Per your instructions, I read it again but I'm still not willing to parse words over the difference between your saying that someone has a narrow mind, and their not having a broad enough "opinion" to agree with you that cooking of a certain type is art."

                                                                          That's certainly your perogative. However I maintain that telling someone I believe they have a narrow opinion on a certain subject is not the same as telling them I think they are narrow minded.

                                                                          Regarding food as art. Steve and those who think like him are defining art in the more recent sense of the word. Those of us who subscribe to the idea that food and the preparation of food by chefs is indeed art, are defining the word in its more traditional sense. Suffice to say,we could all split hairs on this till the cows come home. But what it comes down to is that each of us is entitled to our opinions of what constitutes art. And never the train may meet. Viva the term 'culinary art'!

                                                                          1. re: crt

                                                                            I just took a look at your photos. Wow!! Some of them are really amazing. I am very impressed by the first three on the bottom row (when I click on "other crt's photos". Yes, these could be works of art. I could see how someone would purchase those photos and be proud to hang them on their wall.

                                                                            But my question is: if these were created with plastic, would they be the same to me? The artist in this case is using food as the medium. Quite frankly, I don't care how it tastes, I'll never know.

                                                                            Now... if the chef could come up with an idea about the way they taste that would say something new and meaningful, I could consider THAT a work of art.

                                                                            I still find sorely wanting your definition of art as "a skill aquired by experience, study, or observation." It renders the word virtually meaningless, as in The Art of WIne Tasting . In that case, the person who appreciates the photos you took is every bit the artist as the person who created the images.

                                                                            Or, a business favorite, The Art of the Deal. Yeah, maybe Donald Trump is a great artist. He already does a very good impression of himself.

                                                                  2. I've been thinking about this. It's certainly an interesting question. It seems to me that in the world of creativity, "art" (general classification) is divided into two categories. There is "fine art," that includes painting (sketching, water colors, collage, etc.) and sculpture. Then there are the performing arts that include music, plays, film, etc.

                                                                    And it seems to me that cooking and the creation of great recipes is more akin to music than to anything else. A great chef composes and transcribes a recipe, then it is "performed" by others. As with music, some performances may be by great interpreters of the original. Others may be more akin to a recital in a music teacher's parlor. The family will applaud, but Carnegie Hall is not the first thing that pops to mind.

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                      I don't agree with your association of cooking to music. Cooking can't really make you think complex or new thoughts about tenderness, dishonesty, war, violence, trust, honor, equality, or many other ideas. Thoughts so complicated it could take years of studying and eating just one dish to fully understand it? For example, most people when they hear a symphony (or even a song) they love, their appreciation of it grows over time and repetition, as they begin to understand more and more about it and it makes them think more deeply about it. Eat a favorite food upon repetition, and you are very well inclined to tire of it. How many times have you gone back to a restaurant and think it wasn't as good the second time? How many times do we chase after that 'perfect' example of a food, never being able to recapture that sublime first moment? There's just not that much to think about.

                                                                      If I had to link cooking to something else, it would be fashion design... Though I would get fewer strange looks at work if I ate a traditional Japanese meal than if I dressed in traditional Japanese clothing.

                                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                                        Consider this: You have heard the world's greatest musicians performing at their inspired best all of your life. You can purchase such performances for under twenty bucks at any place that sells recordings. How many meals cooked by truly great chefs at their peak of inspiration have you eaten in your lifetime?

                                                                        Taste/smell is man's strongest, most evocative memory. Given the right circumstance, food can evoke any and all of the emotions you say are only possible through music.

                                                                        But I will concede that too much of today's elite cooking is more akin to fashion design than cooking. I'm just not a fan of having three drops of red goo and a plume of scallion adding sixty bucks to the price of dinner.

                                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                                          I'm not sure how a great chef can evoke 'anger born from injustice' by eating a culinary creation, though I guess it could be from lousy service.

                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                            You don't think a commemorative meal created by a great chef to honor the memory of victims of... the Holocaust, black slavery in the Americas, Hiroshima, Kosevo, Chernobyol, 9-11, or other such incidents could evoke those kinds of emotions? In a sense, it's done in churches all round the globe on a regular basis called "communion."

                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                              The event is commemorative, yes. Food can be very symbolic. Collard greens, for example, can be used as a symbol. But they can be used as a symbol without actually having to cook them.

                                                                              Again, the original post talks about the creativity of chefs and questions if their creation is the same as an artist. This has nothing to do with the commemorative planning of a meal, for which the organizer of the event is responsible without ever having to step into the kitchen or create a recipe.

                                                                              And what new kind of new creation is a chef going to come up with to evoke the brutality and deprivation of the Concentration camps? And is this what the OP had in mind? Or was he thinking about El Bulli or Le Bernardin or even the local diner?

                                                                              For the record, I do believe that 'happenings' (remembr that 60s word?) are potentially works of art. If good food is involved, I'm more likely to attend.

                                                                    2. Little did I realize what a plethora of ideas that such a simplistic question would embrace in search of an answer. I salute all those erudite epicureans who have participated thus far in this resplendent philosophical voyage.
                                                                      The read is most entertaining, witty and educational. Hopefully it will continue.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: fruglescot

                                                                        frugalscot, I got to thinking about this after seeing a photo in an old magazine, where an artist had sculpted a watermelon into a beautiful work of art. Then I remembered the emails that went around months ago, where people had made the most incredible creations out of melons, fruits, etc. And then there was the ad campaign that used pieces of food to create characters. Very clever, but I cannot remember what product it was promoting.

                                                                        So, having said this, exactly what is your definition of "creation" art? Just curious.

                                                                      2. i think the word between "craft" and "art" people are dancing around might be artisan-- also people are getting hung up on restaurateurship rather than working chefs, and other tangents.

                                                                        of course the majority of people making a plate of food are craftspeople, but at a certain level, the creation and continuous refinement of certain dishes can be seen as an art form-- walk into an art museum and look at the many exhibitions of period examples of cabinetry & furniture. the craftsmen/artisans/artists who constructed that chair, sideboard or teapot may have been making an object to be used, but it is also considered art. we eat food, so it is a transient experience in much the same way as a live musical performance, yet many people can look back on live music experiences, and excellent meals, as transformative experiences.

                                                                        the idea that food is less of an art form because a chef is making a product to be enjoyed and to please others doesn't really work for me-- certainly it's not much of a stretch to look at great renaissance paintings, with portraits of the patrons who commissioned them, as products designed to please those who are paying the craftsperson/artisan/artist's rent. . .

                                                                        while there are some craftspeople/artisan/artists who work with darker subject matters, creating pieces which are transformative in a way that can be called depressing by some, i don't agree that the beauty of a work of art detracts from its value. there are many glassblowers, for example, who work with the medium they do in order to create luminous, transparent & translucent, beautiful pieces, and *every* time they create a new piece their aim is to create something beautiful. that's why they don't work with dirty rags and bits of concrete (not that you can't make art out of dirty rags and concrete, just that's not what they're after). similarly, a great chocolatier works with *chocolate*, not wilted, gritty greens picked out by the railroad tracks, and the fact that s/he strives to present a beautiful experience rather than an unpleasant one does not diminish the value of her/his product.

                                                                        as to feeling "anger born from injustice" from a stage play; not feeling the same after a meal-- maybe look harder/differently-- few people would go out of their way to create or consume a depressing meal, but the world is full of people who create food out of humble ingredients (food of the poor). whether you're talking about a peasant stew in france, american bbq, or ma-po tofu, this transformation of the humblest ingredients and the discards of the well-to-do is a time-honored form of rebellion that is accessible to even the very poor. i'd argue that eating these foods when they have been prepared well can be as transformative, and as important to personal history, as seeing the art of one's homeland on a blank museum wall.

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                          Well said! The lines which separate art from craft have become quite blurred. In the past the distinction was very clear. Now even the definition requires us to re-examine & challenges our past perceptions. Sounds like what good art does! : )

                                                                          There have been many excellent points raised & it has been interesting seeing how this topic has encouraged many to try to distill their view point of an often emotional response into a cohesive compilation of words. Not always easily done - but the efforts expended have been appreciated and each has helped me look at this issue anew. Much thanks to all & happy new year!

                                                                          1. re: meatn3

                                                                            I hope you're not leaving the discussion early meatn3 because I'm feeling that we haven't heard the end of this stimulating debate.

                                                                          2. re: soupkitten

                                                                            In museums, I have seen exhibits on everything from Judith Leiber handbags to Imperial Russian jewelry to remnanats from the Titanic, but you won't normally see that in art galleries. For examble, in Washington, DC the handbags were displayed at the Renwick, a Smithsonian Museum of the Decorative Arts, but you'd never see them at the National Gallery of Art. (Certainly I recognize longheld terms like Decorative Arts and Culinary Arts - that doesn't mean the tamale I enjoyed last night was a work of art).

                                                                            Yes, food can be a symbol - hopefully we all know that from reading Proust, I mean, if a man can break down and cry from just being served a cookie, then I think that proves that it can be a very powerful symbol. But symbolism itself is not art.

                                                                            There is something in human nature, deep inside all of us, that tells us that wallpaper is not art. No matter how beautiful, stunning, dramatic, or anything else, everyone past about 12 years old knows this instinctively. So even though being served a stuffed cabbage similar to the one Grandma made for me can conjure deep feelings, it still isn't art. Because just like wallpaper, it isn't saying anything the world doesn't already know. Again, I don't really see the difference between the stuffed cabbage and an article of clothing or even a comb or other possession. Is EVERYTHING a work of art, then?

                                                                            About food being prepared from humble ingredients, yes, some of the best food in the world, but one could just as easily get the wrong idea about the deprivation from which it comes. After all, if it's delicious, I can always think "they didn't have it so bad."

                                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                                              Come on Steve it wasn't just any cookie it was a madeleine! BTW, I don't really think many chowhounds let alone people have actually read all of Remberance.... And yes, wallpaper can be art if that is the original medium (original being the operative word) the artist chooses to express his creation in.

                                                                              And just for mentioning Marcel you get a VERY BIG SHOUT OUT FOR A HEALTHY AND MOST PROSPEROUS '08!

                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                "There is something in human nature, deep inside all of us, that tells us that wallpaper is not art. No matter how beautiful, stunning, dramatic, or anything else, everyone past about 12 years old knows this instinctively."

                                                                                A very pompus and condescending statement if you ask me.

                                                                            2. Yes, if one has the opportunity to experience it first hand. Since food is somewhat ephemeral, it is not going to stand the test of time, for the masses. Yes, some dishes do make it into another generation, but these are usually at the hands of someone else, and food, unlike music, or literature, does not translate to perfection.

                                                                              Now, if someone else can recall Karl Magnusen’s fried shrimp, or The Hub’s “chick steak,” or Alamo fried chicken, then they would tell you that they have experienced food, as art.

                                                                              All of these are gone. There creations are but memories, and then, only when the phase of the moon is just right. I’m sure that there are a thousand other creations, that merit the moniker, “art.” Chef Michael Dagenhart’s pecan-crusted soft-shelled crab in garlic butter is one. To experience any of these is pure bliss. One could well state that they are each, the “state of the art,” and will likely not be repeated, or excelled in a few dozen generations.

                                                                              Now, the problem. Who knows of these people, other than myself? Who can testify that these were the pinnacle, the zenith, of these examples of the culinary arts? Fortunately, I experienced each, and maybe not at the zenith of each chef’s/cook’s career. Still, they are lost, except for my memories. Were they great? Absolutely, without equivocation. Will they endure? Not likely, as all are gone. So, what is the point? Culinary excellence IS art. However, unlike a Vernier, only those who were fortunate enough to dine at the right time, will ever know the magnificence of each of these dishes. One can view many, if not most, of the great works of art, over history, but to sample the creations of great chefs, means that one must dine with them, at just the right time. You can devote volumes to descriptions, but, again, one must BE there – no equivocation.

                                                                              I know the recipe that Chef Michael used for those soft-shelled crabs. I can buy them, fresh from the Gulf of Mexico. Yet, I still cannot create the magic. Same for the Alamo fried chicken. I have spent half of my life (and my wife’s) trying to re-create the dish. We have feasted on many dozens of excellent fried chicken dishes, but have yet to re-create the “original.”

                                                                              I’ve had fried shrimp (a relatively simple dish) around the globe. None has come close to Karl Magnusen’s version. It simply cannot be re-created. Does that diminish his art? In no way!
                                                                              That would be blasphemy. His were the greatest fried shrimp, that I have ever tasted – bar none, and 50x the price.

                                                                              It is the same with wine. We can have great Ports, like the ‘94s, where the Wine Spectator gave two 100s (the Fonseca & the Taylor Fladgate). How do they compare to the ‘31 Quinta du Noval Naçional? Not that close. Still, they are great, but do not match the epitome. Same with other culinary dishes. Duplication is not the same. Still, there IS art in the creation of food items.

                                                                              Hunt

                                                                              35 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                Bill. Having read all of your comments I wish to thank you for sharing all of your wonderful insights and experiences with the culinary arts. Proving indeed that there is art in the creation of food items, and thus chefs can indeed be considered as artists even though there are those who cannot or refuse to make that connection.

                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                  I appreciate your fond memories of meals past but this is still a question of semantics. As a film maker, you are willing to extend the use of the word "art" more broadly than many of us.
                                                                                  Those of us who disagree have seen the common use of the word "art" diluted to encompass whatever people want it to mean, and (I think) believe that cooking, even fine cooking, is more craft than art.

                                                                                  We should remember that calling cooking the "culinary arts" is simply an extension of academic tradition. There are the Liberal Arts and Fine Arts. Once there were also the seven Mechanical Arts (now mostly encompassed by engineering skills) that were originally defined as weaving, blacksmithing, war, navigation, agriculture, hunting, and theater.
                                                                                  I think we can grant the use of "art" for cooking only as far as using it for those trained in the practice, much as we can use it for those trained in the practices of the other academic disciplines, such as historians, sailors, mathematicians, chemists, astronomers, geneticists, farmers, soldiers, linguists, farriers, etc.
                                                                                  They were all "trained" in the disciplines of their academic Arts, but we don't refer to them as Artists.

                                                                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                    I agree - it is semantics. I'm having a hard time understanding why we need to make the distinction. Is there some intrinsic value to art vs. craft? If it's art, is it worth more money? Is that why we're trying to make the distinction?

                                                                                    If people get great joy or feeling out of listening to something, seeing something on a wall, seeing and using a hand-made quilt or pottery or furniture... or they get great pleasure from seeing, smelling and eating a meal, what is the ultimate difference? Performances are transitive. Great performances in any of these endeavors requires skill derived from years of training and hard work. Real appreciation of any of these requires some level of knowledge - generally the more you know, the better you can appreciate the work. Reward ought to follow the hard work and resulting great product - whatever it's called.

                                                                                    Call it what you want to. If it serves to drive some form of markeplace differentiator - well - perhaps Keller shouldn't make as much as Perlman. But then, I'm one of those guys that thinks that it's all topsy-turvy anyway. The most egregious overpayment today is for CEO's, entertainers, and athletes - both Keller and Perlman ought to be making about 10 times as much as Citi's retiring CEO and 100 times Jeter. About 1000 times Jessica Simpson...

                                                                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                      Getting the heart of the definition of "art," do you limit it to the application of a pigment onto a medium? Does this include sculpture? What media? Is it limited only to stone? If I work in metal, and sculpt works, can that be considered art? If we limit it to stone, what about those who craft stone to make prints, say intaglio? Would the creation of music be considered art? Is it only the writing of a musical composition, or would that include the performance of the music?

                                                                                      Aside from being a film maker, I am also an advertising photographer, and worked toward an MFA (lot’s of study of Fine Arts there). Now, with my commercial products, I do strive to create them as “artistically” as is possible, but I do not call them art. What I create from my heart, is usually called “art,” by many critics and from several different disciplines. During my years in academia, I was part of many discussion on whether, photography, cinema, fill-in-the-blank, was really art. I found that those who chose to conclude that they were not, wanted, as you say, no dilution to their personal notions.

                                                                                      If you were to track the progress of art, you would find that almost every genre, whether painting, sculpting, musical compositions, have been ruled as NOT ART, by the preceding proponents. Every new expression is met with the chant, “it is not art.” Is Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky and artist? Most of his contemporaries thought not. Many of his critics still hold that view today.

                                                                                      Now, getting back to food, which is the subject of this forum, I find art in food at several levels. First, in the visual aspect. Some chefs take this to unbelievable levels. I have been wowed by their sense of composition, their use of textures and contrasts and by their sense of scale. Next, I find art on the palate, again with the subtle play of flavors and textures.

                                                                                      Do I find art in a Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast? No. Do I find art in the majority of the food that I ingest? No. Do I find art in a tiny percentage of my meals? Yes, and I greatly appreciate it, when I do. To me, the art is in the conceptualization, more than in the preparation. That is usually handled by others, under the direction of the artist, not unlike many early Parisian ateliers. The artist conceived the work, and the actual application of the pigment, or the rough cutting of the stone, was handled by artisans, or apprentices, under the direction of the master.

                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                        I cannot agree. Yes, I know that even the old masters had students who painted under their names, but everyone in the studio knew who created what, and works were priced accordingly. The masters *always* had their own creative outlets, and *no one* was allowed to put brush or chisel to the master's projects." At least none that I have ever heard of.

                                                                                        I too am an artist. Began formal art study at age five, and art (in multiple forms, including cooking) has been a lifelong pursuit. I am very guarded and protective of my work. It is *my* creation! I once quit an oil painting class, after months of waiting to get in, because the "esteemed" instructor took a brush from my hand and applied it to my canvas. That was a breach. I destroyed the canvas and withdrew. So not all artists are willing to let others apply pigment to canvas, or salt to a dish.

                                                                                        There are questions about art and the creative process that every individual must answer for himself. There is no "right answer." There are only right answers for a given individual. Some of the questions are where the value of art comes from; within the artist himself or within the eye (or palate) of the beholder? Certainly every artist warms from approval, but in the end, for me and all of the other artists I've ever known well, the most critical approval (and criticism) comes from within. And as for me, God help the individual who interlopes on my creations! He (or she) may lose a hand. (Figuratively anyway.)

                                                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                          you are really just talking about your own preferences for your own creations here. there are many works of art which are produced by a collective group's efforts: that's why there are well-known studios for ceramics, glass, sculpture, etc. one lone oboist can't single-handedly perform a symphony. it's up to you whether you believe a symphony performance or a collaboratively built large sculpture is or is not art because it wasn't made by a lone solitary "artist." i for one don't see a symphony or stage play as *less* art because it draws on a collaboration of many performers' talents and interpretations.

                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                            You haven't followed the "conversation." I was responding to Bill Hunt, who was expressing his viewpoint as a filmmaker. Movies are a collaborative effort. Cooking in a restaurant setting is also a collaborative effort. And cooking in a restaurant is not a creative endeavor. It is more akin to paint-by-number, to use a fine art analogy, or playing from sheet music as a musical analogy.

                                                                                            True creativity in the realm of food is done by a single chef. I've known a lot of chefs in my lifetime, and all of them did their creative "compositions" as a solo act. Which is not to say that all chefs work at creating new dishes that way. Just those I've known well, which includes chefs in California, Las Vegas, and Turkey. And once they felt they had perfected their creation, did they serve it in a restaurant? No They invited all of their chef/good cook friends over and tried it out on them (us).

                                                                                            The only point I was trying to make is that Bill's generalities about art as a colaborative work is not neccessarily true. And for the record, I have participated in collaborative art works, including film and television, though that was a long time ago. But there is a huge difference in knowing it is a collaboration when you start, and working on a solo creation and having someone appoint themselves (uninvited) as your collaborator. Too many cooks and all that jazz.

                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                              i thought Bill Hunt's point was that while most food is "product," similar to his advertising works, produced for consumption on some scale; art is something else, and that art can and does occur in the medium of food at a certain level of "performance."

                                                                                              "cooking in a restaurant is not a creative endeavor" can be a true statement 90%, 95%, or 99.9% of the time, but what about development and "creation"-- see the original question asked by the op-- when nobody's "painting by the numbers?" and what if it is in fact a collaborative effort? susan feniger and mary sue milliken are famously collaborative chefs, for example-- i'd bet that your chef friend in turkey didn't create her/his masterwork in total seclusion, & that there was someone around getting tastes during the process and being asked if there's enough salt, do you think i should add some more herbs, etc prior to the dishes' "debut" at the dinner party. . . this kind of ongoing, collaborative creation does happen in restaurant kitchens with some amount of frequency, whether people choose to acknowledge it or not, or acknowledge that it is art or not.

                                                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                Well, the OP started things off with a trick question. It was simply, "Is food "creation" art? And that opened a couple of cans of worms. One being what is art? And then who can accurately interpret what "creation" art means? But I think the definition of art is the main culprit. As it has been since time immemorial.

                                                                                                I think another point that is muddling the discussion is where "talent" enters the picture. In my experience, great art requires not only talent but true giftedness. But talent and giftedness don't always require that great art be their medium of expression. I have had an ancient barley soup made by my grandmother from an "a little of this and a little of that" recipe that was a transcending experience, but be that as it may, it wasn't art.

                                                                                                For me personally, my greatest failing in these discussions is that I am an anachronism. I "came up" in the food world in the twilight of the "classic era," as in even before nouvelle cuisine. Hated it and turned my back on such things and have clung to my old ways. They work for me. They're tried and true, but hard to find in today's world. I come from a time when chefs earned their reputation with the public under the name of the establishment where they worked. Certainly those in the industry knew who they were, but there were no endorsement deals for pots and pans and potato peelers the public would clambor to buy simply because they bore a celebrity chef's name and signature color.

                                                                                                Now, as for collaborative cooking efforts, certainly there are times when an extremely talented and creative chef will work on a recipe at work and ask for an opinion from his or her staff on whether something needs more salt. And there are the occasional "tag team" chefs who don't perform solo. But to stick to the kind of kitchen milieu that most people on these boards are familiar with, Iron Chef is absolutely collaborative cooking, but from what I've seen of the parts of the cooking process actually shown to television audiences, I would have to say that programs such as "The Next Iron Chef," and "Top Chef" are not collaborative in that each individual contestant is judged on his own individual *creative* cooking. And that latter process is what ( in my experience) great chefs -- especially chef-owners of great restaurants -- do when it comes to developing new and original recipes that will knock the world's socks off. And it absolutely is done as a solo exercise.

                                                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                  Caroline1, Thank you for your.....mature observations.

                                                                                                  How would you respond differently if the question was stated;
                                                                                                  "Is the creation of food, art?

                                                                                                  It really wasn't conceived as a trick question, however,upon reflextion at this point, I would not have posed it in any other form. The asking has prompted one, most facinating and educational conversation. It has also aggitated, provoked deep feelings, drawn superlative comparisons and has been a catalyst for examining preconceived notions and most importantly of all, I believe, stimulated a fast vanishing, human characteristic,.... thought.
                                                                                                  I have no regrets.

                                                                                                  1. re: fruglescot

                                                                                                    I didn't mean that you concieved it as a trick question! But in the end, some of the best questions are "best" because they are tricky and provoke thought and discussion. Even arguments! As for your new wording, I would probably have responded pretty much the same as I did to your original question. In the right hands -- but such hands are few and far between! -- the creation of food is art.

                                                                                                    But as someone else has pointed out, food is a transient thing. Fortunately for human kind, taste/smell are our most accurate and enduring memory forms, so for the fortunate soul who partakes of the food art, they do have a lasting imprint. But unfortunately, it's not one they can hang on the wall or load on a computer screen, so the best they can do is try to use words to tell others about the experience. And words always fail! When someone asks me what something tastes like, my standard response is, "I'll tell you right after you tell me what a banana tastes like." Words fail completely.

                                                                                                    For those very gifted food masters, be they chef or cook, like all other artists, they don't bat 1000. But when they do, it's out of the ballpark. And those of us who get a taste are extremely lucky. And when you are a gifted cook, the best way to magnify your gift is to share it with others. That's what makes cooking worth while. '-)

                                                                                                    1. re: fruglescot

                                                                                                      I have found, over the decades, that the arguments over the virtues of real “art,” are usually applied by those, who seek to preserve the “sanctity” of their particular discipline, whether it is the application of pigment onto some substrate, or the composition of music (usually applied to “classical” compositions, only). This is understandable, as no one in any of the disciplines, that are popularly regarded as “art,” want any practitioners of anything else, included. They do not wish to allow dilution of what they do.

                                                                                                      As far as “art” is concerned, if it moves my soul, I declare it ART.

                                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                        But things that "move [your] soul" could include things outside man's realm like nature couldn't it?

                                                                                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                          I suppose that they could include things, beyond man's influence. However, it is the moving of the soul, that signifies that something is "art." This would, then, include things not of man's creation - the art of nature, perhaps. Then, it's up to me to capture that "art," even though we all know that "photography" and "cinematoghraphy" are not "art," don't we?

                                                                                                          It's the same as when I gaze upon the female form, in real life, and see the "art." This is not pigment on medium, nor is it cut from stone. Still, I consider it "art." Heck, many thousand "artists" have attempted to capture it to different media. Some have done a better job, than others. Still, it seems that all of these efforts, so long as they are pigment on medium, or from stone, are considered "art."

                                                                                                          OTOH, there seem to be far too many, who do not find "art" in anything, especially within the culinary realm. For these folk, I have pity.

                                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                            Hey, don't forget we are all Chowhounds here. I have found sublime pleasure and a sense of well being through food just as everyone posting on this board..

                                                                                                            Your "I know what I like" definition of art now includes nature, the female form, and who knows what else. So be it. But I have a painting by a Soviet dissident who was jailed for the art he created. Try doing THAT with rice pudding.

                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                              Wonderful food. A walk through Yosemite in the snow. Orlando Bloom. Naked. My own garden when all the flowers are doing just what I want them to do. All this is bliss. Art, however, is about understanding the human condition. It means something. Food doesn't mean anything. I can't believe that I've been too intimidated by all the replies here to say this before.

                                                                                                              1. re: Glencora

                                                                                                                Glencora, Here... on the Chowhound Site?
                                                                                                                How could you utter such blasphemy? lol

                                                                                                                Every opinion counts on this thread.

                                                                                                                1. re: Glencora

                                                                                                                  so-- wars have never been fought for bread? cultural revolution for meat? foodstuffs have never been "forbidden" for certain classes, sects, castes? societies have not been profoundly shifted by the introduction of an amazing foreign spice, or luscious fruit? the world would not be a profoundly different place if there never was black pepper, or saffron, or tomatoes?

                                                                                                                  if your position is truly that the creation of food has no cultural meaning, and nothing to do with "the human condition"-- i gotta say i just don't even see how you can get there. can't even get there on a smaller scale-- meals built around one single ingredient, festival, or theme can be amazing in conception, execution, presentation, and "performance" and are far from meaningless.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                    so how about food that references the history of a people, a meal that encompasses their cultural journey, & their interaction with other cultures?

                                                                                                                    there are techniques and ingredients that a cook or chef can draw upon to reference other culinary works-- to me it's very similar to reading literature that briefly quotes another work of literature for another layer of meaning and resonance, or a classical music piece that "quotes" the theme of a symphony for a few bars before progressing through the exposition of its own themes. of course, you can read the book and not get the reference to "war and peace," an audience can listen to the classical piece and get meaning from it whether or not they catch the handel quote in the second movement, you can simply eat what's on your plate as "fuel." someone else may catch the reference and have a more meaningful experience as they read, listen, or dine.

                                                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                      As I have said before in this thread, food can be used as a powerful symbol.

                                                                                                                      So can many objects.

                                                                                                                      An exhibition on the 60th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson's Integration of Major League Baseball might include his old jersey from the Montreal team, photos of his charity work for families, quotes about his ability to steal HOME PLATE, which he did about twenty times in his career. Do you realize how incredible that is?

                                                                                                                      But that doesn't mean the glove he used is a work of art.

                                                                                                                      1. re: eatnbmerry

                                                                                                                        I am sure Isaac Stern thought a Stradivarius was a work of art. And isn't a classic Gibson Les Paul guitar a piece of art? (Clapton sure would agree). Of course they are!

                                                                                                                        Steve, you are trying to fit art into a very narrow definition which at best is arbitrary and at worst is artificial.

                                                                                                                        1. re: eatnbmerry

                                                                                                                          I am willing to accept another definition of art than mine. So what is yours?

                                                                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                            Steve,

                                                                                                                            I've already offered it in my previous posts. I guess since there has been so much posting you may have forgotten (perhaps too much Proust it can happen to anyone reading him) my humble opinions among the ongoing banter. Look at my various 12/28 posts.

                                                                                                                        2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                          i think you're getting confused, Steve. of course the tool (glove) of an athlete is not art, it's a protective device. the chisel of a sculptor, the brush of a painter, or the spatula of a chef is not art either. what they create with these tools may be considered art. the tools themselves are just tools, or they may be seen by some, as you say, as "powerful symbols"-- but you're losing the "creations" in your comparison to athletics, which is why the comparison doesn't work.

                                                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                            Well, I would say the tool would be the awl that helped make the glove. That glove is no mere tool. A baseball collector would put tremendous value on owning Jackie Robinson's glove and might be moved by it in the same way you are moved by food. That glove would make the collector think about integration, racism, the ideal of sport, all kinds of things. I would say the glove is a very important object, like a plate of food at a commemorative dinner. And certainly it was created!

                                                                                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                              Don't let the venom cloud your mind it will inevitably claim your taste as well and then art or not you wouldn't be the wiser.

                                                                                                                      2. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                        Never meant that it had no cultural meaning, just no artistic meaning. I suppose you could do meaningful performance art with food, but I don't think that's what the OP had in mind when he or she asked the question. And anyhow that would be performance art, not dinner.

                                                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                          Wars are fought over the DISTRIBUTION or SUPPLY of food, maybe. But not really the food itself. I have never heard of a war fought about "what's for dinner - tuna casserole or vegetable lasgna."

                                                                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                            The french have been in a cultural war with americans over our (over)use of ketshup forever. Then again, thats a war the french can actually win.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                              There was a famous article at the time of the Balkan wars in which the writer had stayed with one family on each side, and each said almost the exact same phrase about how the people of the other side prepared their tea wrong. Perhaps food isn't the cause of war, but it's a part of cultural identification that can symbolize differences and hatreds - strong, visceral emotions, for certain. Artists can only hope to capture such depths of feeling in their work.

                                                                                                                              If one eliminates cultural meaning from the "pure" aspect of the definition of art, what else should we be eliminating? We've already eliminated usefulness - craft is not art. Perhaps religious meaning is next - religious icons cannot be pure art since they communicate religious meaning. So then, only abstract color, form, and texture - and sound in terms of music - assembled to communicate otherwise unbound ideas and emotions, is art (only new ideas and emotions, at that). Once again, food qualifies. It may not speak to you, but it obviously speaks to many others.

                                                                                                                              Exactly what part of "yours is a narrow definition of art" do you disagree with?

                                                                                                                              1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                I agree with you that food would qualify if the chef could convey something important that the world didn't already know. I'll allow that it's possible, I just haven't experienced it myself, and when I hear about other people's experiences on this board, my doubt is not erased. I believe they are giving meaning to an inanimate object when the purpose of the object was just to taste good or fill the belly. Just like the purpose of Jackie Robinson's glove was to catch baseballs, not to break the color barrier. They both can have enormous and powerful emotions associated with them, though, you're right, the kind of importance that artists would love to be able to convey.

                                                                                                                                Exactly what part of "yours is a narrow definition of art" do I disagree with?

                                                                                                                                Narrow is a pejorative word. If you think a poem is not poetry unless it rhymes, then you probably have a narrow idea of poetry. But if you think that Great Expectations is not a poem, then I wouldn't say you have a narrow idea of what poetry is.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                  You are indeed consistent and I appreciate your replies, although I don't agree. The poem example is very good.

                                                                                                                                  There is denotation, and then, there is connotation. I do believe in explicit speech, and I hate it when terms are misused, especially in food. But art means so much more than a painting, sculpture or even music to me - and I think that if you're willing to acknowledge that a person is an artist, then you've got to be just that close to saying that what he creates is art. In fact, my definition of great art would include objects that defy their purpose - that go above and beyond their intended creation. Compositions written as lullabies or etudes that have come to illicit much more universally understood themes, or portraits that have mesmerized for years - well beyond the reflection of the original patron. That would definitely include food that satisfies hunger, but provides an even greater satiety - of the soul. Perhaps even baseball gloves that broke color barriers - or certainly, if not the glove itself, then the artist that gave the performances that could not be ignored through all the hate and bigotry. Stealing home is indeed a thing of beauty. I still wouldn't pay Jeter 2 cents...

                                                                                                                                  1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                    I understand why some folks have a problem with my definition of art. It does reject a lot of things. A painting or play or symphony about war that conjures up powerful feelings and ideas STILL wouldn't be art to me if those feelings and ideas were ones the world has experienced before. Fortunately for me, I continue to stumble across novelists, painters, playwrights, and musicians who share my sense of exploration and discovery.

                                                                                                                                    Thankfully, we don't all have to agree about art anymore than we have to agree about food. I love the pictures crt showed us, and I love the idea of the vegetable orchestra. If there are any chef/artists out there, I look forward to tasting their creations.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                    well art *is* in the eye of the beholder, and if you have decided that food is not art, merely something "to taste good or fill the belly," that's your prerogative. for me a janos starker performance of the bach cello suites is art, and for someone else, it's pleasing background sound that covers up the traffic noises and sirens.

                                                                                                                                    i believe successful art does something to change the perspective of the audience that experiences the art. it can serve as a bridge between people: cultures, genders, age, education, etc. it takes each person who experiences the art *out* of themselves, out of her/his own experience. it gets people's brains working in a different way, and can be powerfully transformative and memorable. from your posts you seem to have an "art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer to shape it" attitude. it's a cool attitude to have about art, but i can see why it would make someone less open to food as art. i'd assume a person with this attitude might have problems with seeing a blown glass bottle or a hand pieced quilt *as art* as well. some art manages to be almost universally powerful to people, but a lot of it is multilayered so that it can be appreciated on a variety of levels. i think that training in the arts helps in the appreciation of all forms of art, but i just don't buy that art is only for the educated, or that art must follow rigid parameters. saying that art can be performed in one medium but not another seems a lot like saying that only certain people in our society can create art. if you only experience limited forms of art, you miss out.

                                                                                                    2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                      Bill, again, it all rests on your definition of art. Since you have not clearly stated what your definition is, I can only guess it has something to do with reaching a zenith. Or maybe it has to do with bliss. You seem to equate art with pleasure. Perhaps you can elaborate.

                                                                                                      What I consider to be art has no limitations. It can mean whatever the artist wants to convey. The food experience you are talking about seem to be very limited in scope. They certainly all seem to revolve around pleasure.

                                                                                                    3. I think we can all agree to disagree.

                                                                                                      Those who think food creation is art are never going to change the minds of those who think it is not, and vice-versa.

                                                                                                      May the discussion continue to beat the proverbial 'dead horse'.

                                                                                                      1. I do believe that there is some irony in listening to those that put down snobbery in all things foodie, and yet feel that as good as food can be, there is this whole other level of human endeavor called "art", which no food creation could ever become.

                                                                                                        Any musician that has played years in the pit orchestra of a broadway musical - 8 performances a week - knows exactly what skill gets you, and what you have to do with that skill to make a living. But then you work on your own recital - and even critics say that your Kruetzer was transcendental... Hey - it's the same set of skills - the same years of practicing scales and double-stops.

                                                                                                        Consider the Kellers and Bouluds - what they present on their menus are incredible works of creativity, based on years of accumulating skills and knowledge. Artful? yes, without a doubt. Art? exactly why not?

                                                                                                        But go down a few levels to the local scene - young people like Chris Parsons who runs a wonderful fish restaurant called Catch in Winchester, MA, or David Nevin, formerly of Neptune Oyster in Boston. Their menus also reflect tremendous creativity and craft: Maitake on scallops with celeriac puree; Insalata of salt cod with crunchy lamb. This is all about creativity - the plates look wonderful - they smell wonderful, and best of all, the flavors are original and unique, but reminiscent of great flavors of the past.

                                                                                                        Is this any more limited in scope than a portrait hanging on a wall? I swoon to Brahms - in ways that non-musicians can hardly appreciate. But a bite of that insalata has me stopping and thinking about all kinds of things - how did he achieve this particular texture or flavor, what does this remind me of?

                                                                                                        It is all semantics. I'm sure that we all acknowledge the work and study that goes into creating anything truly worthwhile. But those who feel that art is some other special level beyond craft, and that food will never qualify, are indeed the real snobs.

                                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: applehome

                                                                                                          Exactly why is it not art? Well, I for one do allow that there is a possibilty that it is art, but I seriously doubt it. It would have to fit in a definition of art that is so broad as to be meaningless, that's why.

                                                                                                          Is this any more limited in scope than a protrait? Yes. When the painter started that painting, the ideas were unlimited. He could have painted a portrait of intense cruelty and disgust. Or even ideas too difficult to communicate in this venue. But I doubt if Keller is trying to do more than one of a few simple things - please, delight, intrigue, thrill etc. Whether he acheives it or not, the final product can almost surely be understood within the time it takes to finish the dish. And that emotion or idea is probably pretty much the same as the last time the chef thrilled his public. I see limitations everywhere. Plus, if you had to eat the dish everyday and other chefs started copying his idea, executed it perfectly, and moved on, the dish would probably lose it's thrill factor pretty quickly. I have paintings in my home that cost me $20 at a garage sale and I have owned for years, and the more I look at them, the more I see in them, understand, and appreciate every day. There are foods I adore and fill me with bliss. But If I eat them everyday, I doubt that would last for long.

                                                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                                                            So you're saying that limitations - the scope of creativity in itself is what defines what is art and what isn't. Brahms is art, but country music, probably not. Rap - not a chance. Hip-hop, even with its Jazz roots, maybe?

                                                                                                            Keller may repeat his repertoire, but believe me, 8 shows a week on Broadway outdoes any sin he's committed. More to the point, Keller and Adria and everybody else continue to grow. What are they limited by? These folks have invented new idioms in their medium in the same way that Bach and Stravinsky did. Which will have had more impact to humanity in the long run - pointilism or California cuisine? Of course, there's always the negative - the deranged growth of fast food, for example - but then music had disco for a while. In fact, the range of styles, methods, ingredients and cultural influences likens cuisine even more to the accepted arts. If complexity is the main criteria, food qualifies.

                                                                                                            Real creativity comes in breaking the rules - knowing which rules to break is the sign of a true genius - an artful master. Art grows because of these individuals - Beethoven, Adria, Picasso, Blumenthal... Art becomes limited and shrivels in the face of people who adhere to strict rules and definitions.

                                                                                                            Check out the DVD, Monet's Palate - A Gastronomic View From the Gardens of Giverny. At least one master considered food and its preparation to be an endeavor of equal importance to his own work. I can't help but feel that the ties run deep with artists and food, precisely because they have great similarities in terms of what defines creative success. Why do musicians hang out with chefs at incredible places to eat after the shows are done and the restaurants are closed? Yeah, I know... cheap booze... but I mean, there's more than that.

                                                                                                            1. re: applehome

                                                                                                              You asked "is this any more limited in scope" than a portrait? My answer is yes.

                                                                                                              "What are they limited by?" They are limited by trying to create a product which will elicit moans of deliciousness. I never said this is an inferior endeavor to what an artist does, mind you, but it is different than what an artist does.

                                                                                                              "Art becomes limited and shrivels in the face of people who adhere to strict rules and definitions." I imagine there are no artists who are trying to adhere to my definition of art or are even aware of its existence. Certainly my definiton has no effect on a novel which has already been written or a piece of music already composed.

                                                                                                              But I am trying to give folks who expressed an interest a clear idea of what I consider to be art and what is not. If it doesn't tell me something important about life that the world didn't already know, then I don't consider it to be art. And since the world has already experienced a lot of complex ideas and emotions, for a work of art to succeed it has to delve into some damn complicated ideas and emotions that are so deep as to probably take a very long time to appreciate its full depth.

                                                                                                              As where I actually believe that continued and repeated exposure to the same food makes one appreciate it less. Even Keller has written and spoken about how the first few bites of something are the most satisfying and that a small portion will be better appreciated than more of the same.

                                                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                You're stuck on the same food thing... my point is exactly that it isn't the same food. Indeed if a masterful dish is designed, or a new technique invented, it is almost certainly replicated by the author as well as many others. But that's the same in music and art. The original piece of creativity was new - and the chef/author will almost surely create something new again, shortly - that's what creative people - artists, if you will, do. Even so, there's the old saying that an author only writes one book, a composer one song. An artist only makes one painting. Clearly, if we take one artist's work over time, we see progress - but just as clearly, the base content, what was learned early on, is often repeated, just as in cooking.

                                                                                                                Although it is a tangent, just look at the investigations into other cultures that are behind food travel shows like Zimmern's or Bourdain's. It is most certainly NOT about pleasing our western palates - some of it is outright revolting. But I do understand that shock and even disgust is not the norm for food creation - certainly there is no sorrow (other than the sorrow over the ruination of a perfectly good piece of meat - perhaps a creative chef would cook a piece of Kobe beef well done to express his angst). But there's so much room for expression in creating food to please people that it's hardly a limitation.

                                                                                                                Tell me this - is it art if it's new to only you, or does it have to be new to humanity as a whole? If it's you only, then all you have to do to make food art is to not eat in the same places all the time. If it has to be new to humanity, well you may need to live next to El Bulli for the 6 months they're open every year.

                                                                                                                1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                  It has to be new to the world. One person's ignorance is no excuse. A copy of a painting is not art, even if the viewer has never seen the original.

                                                                                                                  This is, I believe, different than the performing arts in which the artistic interpretation of the performers are essential to creating the art. As I think I stated above, I agree with the sentiment that a play (or musical composition) on paper is only the blueprint of a play, the shadow of a play.

                                                                                                                  "There's so much room for expression in creating food to please people that it's hardly a limitation." Hmmm... the effect is wonderful no doubt, but it seems pretty limited in scope to me. Take the most complex food you've ever eaten. What ideas and emotions were the chef trying to elicit? And is the guy making a tamale on the street corner an artist to you? Is everytime someone cooks something creating a work of art? Is manufactured food? Why not?

                                                                                                                  I also find it interesting to think that some folks on this board believe I have a very narrow view of what is art. On the contrary I think art is created all the time by many people throughout every community, people who are working hard to create new workd of poetry, music, movement, etc, not just by the great chefs of europe. I went to an obscure art gallery the other day and saw works by two completely unknown artists that blew me away. I felt like a kid in a candy shop, amazed at the creativity and originality of what they had done.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                    I felt the same way watching the PBS series, Craft in America. I couldn't imagine not considering these incredible people that created wondrous objets d'art in glass, wood, ceramics, metal... whatever the medium, to be anything but artists, just because they made teapots or tables instead of an abstract. So going the next step, to include the medium of food, is not very difficult for me.

                                                                                                                    As a classically trained musician (since before the age of 5), I do, in fact, harbor great doubts as to the artistry in Country & Western, Rock and Rap. Complexity is important as a reflection of the human condition, (perhaps C&W fans lead a simpler life... but that's another discussion, entirely), and an epistemology that establishes a long and hard road that leads to ever greater appreciation is important to art. (I am, indeed, a snob.) And yet, I consider great food to meet the qualifications.

                                                                                                                    I listened to Tom Colicchio interviewed on the series Chef's Story, (great series, except for the insider fawning of Dorothy Hamilton - but I can put up with that), and he flatly states that cooking is craft and not art, (hence the name of his places - Craft, Craft Steak, etc.) - he explains what the distinction means to him, but it's as if he's accepted a second tier in life. Perhaps I would feel the same way if I had worked for Keller. I just don't buy it. Of course, Tom and people like him are well into the commercial aspects of cooking, which isn't art (unless there's an art to opening up restaurants). So perhaps he does fall more into the craft side. But he still creates, and what he creates, when it's good enough, complex enough, special and unique enough, ought to be considered art.

                                                                                                                    I hear the issue about the arepa lady - and when it comes to food appreciation - what we swoon for - it can be the simplest thing. I just heard my rice cooker go off, and I have a beautiful piece of sugino (the whole salmon roe sac) in the fridge from yesterday's trip to the Japanese food store. I just can't wait to go roast a couple of sheets of nori and sit down with a bowl of rice and the cut up sugino. Not art. But incredibly mouth-watering to my tastes. But that takes no special knowledge or developed skill other than having had it served to me by my mother as a kid in Japan. No incredible artisan was inspired to create something that jumps out and inspires others. Although, I suppose that thinking about this great ingredient, an artist/chef could come up with some incredible dish that could be art... hmmm... I'll think about it some more while I eat.

                                                                                                                    1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                      Can we all agree that cuisine/ cooking/ food is not FINE art. Fine art by definition being for intellectual stimulation alone while applied art (like food or utensil design) takes on a creative as well as practical capacity.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                        As a dictionary definition, I have no problem with that. It's a classical delineation, and it's just words applied to words. Nevertheless, what my mind and body goes through listening to someone play the Chaconne perfectly and eating a piece of an o-toro rose "sculpture" by my kaiseki ryoryu chef friend are very similar. There's a sense of incredible perfection, a thoroughly sensual overwhelming, an admiration for the performer, composer, creator, thoughts of other times and places (and music and food) that might have felt the same...

                                                                                                                        And yet, I agree that if you get the same feelings and thoughts observing nature - an incredible sunrise at an incredible location, for example - that this isn't art. Art is man-made. A definition that says all this wonderful stuff is art and all this wonderful stuff isn't art is just a function of communication, not philosophy or any other deep human understanding.

                                                                                                                        And this applies to terror and horror and other significant human feelings and dark thoughts - not just beauty. To see the horror of a natural disaster - or even man's destruction of nature - can leave feelings and thoughts that are heightened sensual and intellectual experiences.

                                                                                                                        What I'm trying to say with regard to the snobbish attitude that refuses to admit food as art is that there is no intrinsic greater value of fine art over applied art or an observation of nature. What great X (whatever it's called) makes us feel and think, is something wonderfully human - it's a zenith, a virtual orgasm. Or perhaps it's a nadir, a depressing, isolating experience. In any case, a stimulant to thought and feeling. Food most certainly can deliver that.

                                                                                                                        1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                          Well stated! Although I don't entirely agree that all who argue against are snobs per se. What was it that he said: "forgive them father for they not what they do". Thats probably closer to their home on this topic.

                                                                                                                          1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                            Very interesting post. I wish you would drop the whole 'snob' thing. I allow for anyone to be an artist, just not every activity they participate in.

                                                                                                                            I think with your post we are finally getting somewhere, that most of us agree that art has to be man-made and that it has to at least give us an important feeling, good or bad.

                                                                                                                            Does it have to contain an idea? I don't mean make you think of other things (any object, like a baseball, could do that), but an idea that the artist is trying to convey? Does that idea have to be new?

                                                                                                          2. Is food "Creation" art ?

                                                                                                            Yes I know I made the 'beating a dead horse' statement. But having found the following...

                                                                                                            http://www.pingmag.jp/2007/02/01/food...

                                                                                                            I just had to post the link.

                                                                                                            "...all the charming and beautiful things, from the Song of Songs, to bouillabaisse, and from the nine Beethoven symphonies to the Martini cocktail, have been given to humanity by men who, when the hour came, turned from tap water to something with color in it, and more in it than mere oxygen and hydrogen." H.L. Mencken

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: crt

                                                                                                              I love these images you are coming up with! They are fantastic. If they were served to me, I would hate to eat them!

                                                                                                            2. Just to stir the pot a little more:
                                                                                                              http://www.gemueseorchester.org/
                                                                                                              A slightly different take...
                                                                                                              :)