It's all things 1950s at this year's two-night Art of Food benefit

They'll be pushing the boundaries for this one
Posted at 12:00 PM, Feb 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-19 12:00:26-05

COVINGTON, Ky. -- Last year, the Art of Food rolled out pole dancing (performed by body-painted "pole beans") in its "Farm to Gallery" celebration. If you don't think this year's edition, scheduled Feb. 23-24 at the Carnegie, can top that, then you don't know the event organizers' deliciously creative minds.

Every year at the Art of Food, local chefs and artists wield their talents in a unifying theme. This year the theme is all things 1950s, and the Art of Food's interpretation lands squarely in the middle of unfettered creativity, controlled spectacle and even playful absurdity.

"We will have dancers and singers body-painted in 1950s food," said Pam Kravetz, an artist and the self-professed "Pied Piper" of the event. She once again will lead the brigade of artists and performers, this time to bring the art and food of the 1950s to life with a twist.

For example, expect a 1950s-style cooking show -- of sorts.

"I will be the host of a totally whimsical, a little absurd, live cooking show," Kravetz said, adding that the show was inspired by Thu Tran's Food Party, Julia Child, the Swedish Cook from "The Muppets" and Pee-wee's Playhouse. "We are mixing artists, movies, TV and people from the '50s to create the show."

The show will have guest appearances by actors playing the likes of Tippi Hedren, Frida Kahlo and even Godzilla, she said.

According to Kravetz, the 1950s theme dawned on the creative team in a spontaneous burst of inspiration. "(Carnegie Gallery director) Matt Distel, (development manager) Hilary Colborn and I sat down over soccer playoffs and bourbon … and 'The Joy of Cooking' came to us in an 'aha' moment," she said.

For the second year, the Art of Food will span two evenings. The event on Feb. 23, "An Atomic Dinner Party," will allow up to 200 guests to have a more intimate interaction with the chefs, artists and musicians. There also will be music by the Amy McFarland Trio, an educational guided tasting by Maker's Mark, an open bar and complimentary valet parking.

The Feb. 24 event will feature small bites from roughly 20 local chefs, artistic performances and music by DJ Mowgli. 

The chefs are fired up to showcase their kind of art -- the kind you can eat.

Jean-Robert de Cavel will play up the era's TV-dinner culture with his rendition of mushroom cream soup, made with shrimp and scallops, and served with mashed potato punched up with garlic and bacon. It has become a tradition for the chef to dress up: Last year, he wore ram's horns and the year before, he donned the costume and persona of Candyland's villainous Lord Licorice.

"I'm going to be dressing up, but I don't know as what yet," he said.

Alfio Gulisano (Che, Alfio's Buon Cibo) will prepare food from his childhood, potato gnocchi with hand-cut ribeye ragout. "I used to watch TV on Sunday nights eating gnocchi," he said.

Michael Ly (Pacific Kitchen) will serve Pacific gazpacho and Vietnamese lemongrass prawns with rice noodle salad. Tim Weiss (Lisse) will offer the restaurant's signature items, osso bucco with hutspot and Dutch apple cobbler. Josh Campbell (Django Western Taco) will prepare Mexican wedding cookies spiked with bourbon and bacon chilies. 

Farmer Kate Cook (Carriage House Farm) and chocolatier Shalini Latour (Chocolats Latour) are teaming up once again to create chocolates and truffles using herbs and honey from the farm.

 "I think we'll use herbs like lemon verbena, hyssop and rosemary," Cook said. They also plan to include the "Atomic Truffle," made with scorpion pepper, in their repertoire.

The chefs, artists and performers participate on a voluntary basis, donating their time and the food, and proceeds from the event will go toward programming at the Carnegie.

Kravetz, who has been involved with the Art of Food for more than seven years, said she feels fortunate to work with top-flight artists who don't hesitate to push their own boundaries.

"The chefs, restaurants and artists in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky are beyond compare," Kravetz said. "The Art of Food is a celebration and a total 'love fest' for The Carnegie, to support this incredible arts institution."

The Art of Food

6-9 p.m. Feb. 23: $100 general admission ($75 for members). Limited to 200 guests.

6-9 p.m. Feb. 24: $50 ($35 for members).

1028 Scott St., Covington.

Tickets are available at the Carnegie box office, by phone at 859-957-1940, or online at


Featured culinary artists and restaurants


The Art of Food: An Atomic Dinner Party chefs:

Alfio's buon cibo
Chef Alfio Gulisano

The BonBonerie
Chef Sharon Butler

Jeff Thomas Catering
Chef Steve Waddell

Coffee Emporium
Tony Tausch

Frida 602
Chef Paul Weckman

Chocolats Latour
Chef Shalini Latour

Chef Paul Weckman

Carriage House Farm
Chef Kate Cook

Fox's Boxes
Chef Michael Gayon

Fresh Table
Chef Meredith Trombly

Chef Tim Weiss

Walt's Hitching Post
Chef Neil Smith


The Art of Food chefs:

Fireside Pizza
Chef Mike Marschman

Sleepy Bee Cafe
Chef Frances Kroner

Alfio's buon cibo
Chef Alfio Gulisano

Jeff Thomas Catering
Chef Steve Waddell

Happy Chicks Bakery
Chefs Jana and Jessica

Commonwealth Bistro
Chef Chris Burns

Red Feather
Chef Andrew Mersmann

Jean-Robert's Table
Chef Jean-Robert de Cavel

Django Western Taco
Chef Josh Campbell

Anchor OTR
Chef Derek Dos Anjos

Coffee Emporium
Tony Tausch

The Pacific Kitchen
Chef Michael Ly

Bouquet Restaurant
Chef Stephen Williams

Chocolats Latour
Chef Shalini Latour

Chef Nathan Chambers

Carriage House Farm
Chef Kate Cook

Grateful Grahams
Chef Rachel DesRochers

Eat Well Celebrations & Feasts
Chef Renee Schuler

Lil's Bagels
Chef Julia Keister

Chef Brendan Haren

Piccolo Casa
Chef Mark Bodenstein



Grace Yek writes about food for She is a certified chef-de-cuisine with the American Culinary Federation, and a former chemical engineer. Questions or comments? Connect with her on Twitter: @Grace_Yek.