Culinary Art Exhibit: Feelings for Dinner
Culinary Exhibition Emotions for Dinner - BAE Studio

Culinary Art Exhibit: Feelings for Dinner

Project focus: How Might Flavor Tell an Emotional Story?

Role: Artist/designer, Art direction

Recognition: MIT Funding and Collaboration

Feelings for Dinner Culinary Art Exhibit
MIT Collaboration and Study Restaurant

Is it possible to pair wine and food with emotionally-rich life moments to tell stories through flavor?

We often think of wine and food as a collection of elements of taste – blackcurrants and chocolate, tannins and minerals, brown rice and spring greens. Yet our enjoyment of these things, and the meaning we find in them, is much more multi-sensory than this approach suggests, and often has more to do with context than the actual experience of eating and drinking.

THE MENU: A Flavor Story
The menu for guests consisted only of the following text to describe the eight courses:
1. A light jog in Central Park on a spring Sunday
2. A slap in the face
3. A midnight swim in a freshwater lake
4. Walking around the house naked
5. Seeing a new city for the first time
6. Preparing to see a long-lost lover after time has passed
7. A wake-up shower
8. Studio 54 in its prime


1. A light jog in Central Park on a spring Sunday
Food experience: healthy / beautiful / gritty / crowded / urban / sweaty / sport
Beverage experience: biodynamic / unfiltered / complex / acidic / dry
Table/environment: sod squares, wheat grass, textures of brick, concrete, glass, taxi yellow

2. A slap in the face
Food experience: shocking / happens fast / slightly unpleasant / invigorating
Beverage experience: bracing / intense / not painful / salty
Table/environment: aggressive music, scattered polaroids of irritated skin, playful band-aids, acrylic placemats with urban dictionary entries for slap, slaps, and similar phrases.

3. A midnight swim in a freshwater lake
Food experience: plunging into darkness / intimate / coming of age / goosebumps / after-chill
Beverage experience: dark color / heat / familiar / slightly chilled / medium plus alcohol / meant to drink young / tannic
Table/environment: placemats are vintage coming of age album covers, silky, liquid-like napkins, dark lighting, moody romance music

4. Walking around the house naked
Food experience: unselfconscious / private / intimate / otherwise embarrassing / cheap / local / family memories / habitual / idiosyncratic / mismatched
Beverage experience: overlooked / everyday / unfussy / personal / unsophisticated / inexpensive / produced in the North East USA / common yet considered unusual
Table/environment: mismatched everything – placemats, glassware, plates. Cartons, scissors, and random things you put away when people come over are around.

5. Seeing a new city for the first time
Food experience: exciting / overwhelming / discovery / unfamiliar / trying to match to familiar / eyes open to the mundane / time to savor
Beverage experience: flight of multiple / exposure to the unexpected / opportunity to compare / partial blindness / experiential / emotional / cultural
Table/environment: placemats are black and white 12″ x 12″ glass frames with pieces of Kenyan landscape photo, abstract map textile cloth napkins, unusually dark lighting, little boxes and surprises to discover, movie score music

6. Preparing to see a long-lost lover after time has passed
Food experience: protective barriers / initially strange or aloof / strong attraction / grows more familiar with time
Beverage experience: initially feels cold / somewhat difficult to recognize at first / elegance / opens up in time
Table/environment: Things you peel back, familiar songs, crumpled fortune cookies slips with phrases of remembering the first time we danced, kissed, walked out of a movie, etc.

7. A wake-up shower
Food experience: refreshing / awakening / initial effort / cleansing / calming
Beverage experience: acidic / ingredients like beauty ingredients / non-alcoholic / soothing
Table/environment setting: mini face towels, shower curtain placemats, edible lotion

8. Studio 54 in its prime
Food experience: overstimulating / self-important / indulgent / intoxicating / famous
Beverage experience: big in every way / fancy / personality / high sugar / high alcohol
Table/environment: Mirrored tiles, confetti, edited polaroids of guests, polaroids of body parts, original Studio 54 art/personality reference photos

On July 22, Dr. Altringer and the team at Study will present an 8-course dinner exploring these ideas. Each course and each pairing is inspired by an emotionally-rich sliver of lived experience (e.g. ‘sneaking in a nap’) translated into a flavor ‘story’ by Altringer and Study, with the help of the InJoy database.

The evening promises to be thought provoking as well as delicious. Pairings are wine-driven, and move from lightweight to heavyweight, with a number of surprises in between. The meal will call on all your senses – not just of smell and taste, but of sight and touch, and, most importantly, your sense of imagination.

This collaboration with the Study Team is inspired and powered by InJoy, an experimental interactive pairing application developed by Dr. Altringer of Harvard University to discover new taste adventures. This eventually became the Flavor Genome Project. It is based on a multi-sensory approach to flavor, meaning and emotions. It grows out of her work studying design and desirability, and experience as a member of Cambridge University’s competitive blind tasting team.

Wed, July 22, 2015
Study Restaurant
73 Ames St, Cambridge, MA 02142
Limited Seating
Tickets ($125/person) & More Information:

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