Art Basel

Chefs show off artistic side for Art Basel

Diners are bound to be lauding culinary masterpieces, writes Tracey Furniss

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 May, 2014, 9:49am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 May, 2014, 9:49am

Art fever hits Hong Kong this month, with a slew of local and international festivals taking place around the city, including the star attraction, Art Basel Hong Kong.

The event has also drawn in some of the city's top chefs, who are creating their own masterpieces.

Impressive plates are being dished up at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong - the official partner hotel for Art Basel Hong Kong - by executive chef Uwe Opocensky with inspiring menus at the Mandarin Grill + Bar.

Almost too good to eat, Opocensky's creative dessert, Apple and Man, is inspired by Rene Magritte's The Son of Man and is art on a plate, but this and his other culinary works took time and research to put together.

"I took time and looked through the artworks featured [at Art Basel], as well as the artists themselves," Opocensky says. "Various ones stood out to me, and that is when I became inspired and started conjuring up ideas. I started with the dessert first and then worked backwards to create the full menu."

Some dishes took a day and some up to four months to create, "depending on the complexity of the dish", Opocensky says.

Diners will definitely be Instagramming these masterpieces before consuming, while evening diners can apply their own artistic culinary plating skills, with Create Your Own Jackson Pollock, featuring a palette of cooked items such as beef calotte with sauces in different colours including black truffle, red pepper, green spinach and white potato mash. At lunchtime, the chefs will create it for you.

The Art Basel special menus at Mandarin Grill + Bar are available through Sunday. There is a three-course lunch which includes a starter of Pantone - a palette of yellow (sweet corn), red (tomato), green (pea), grey (mushroom), white (truffle), a main course, Create Your Own Jackson Pollock, and the Apple and Man dessert, followed by coffee or tea and petit fours. There is a five-course dinner menu which is the same as the lunch menu, but with two extra starters - Bloody Mary, consisting of tomato and celery, and Lily Pond Monet, made up of scallop, crab and consommé. A ticket to Art Basel Hong Kong is also included, except on the final night.

At The Mandarin Cake Shop, the hotel pastry chefs have been busy creating some sweet limited-edition treats in celebration of Art Basel, with a range of chocolate pencils, paint brushes and chocolate artist palettes. Over at M bar, perched on the 25th floor of the hotel, are art-inspired cocktails themed around the various exhibition sectors at Art Basel, such as "Insights", Discoveries", "Encounters" and "Film".

The Clipper Lounge will be serving a special "smile" cake this month as part of their afternoon tea set. The cake is inspired by a special "SMILE" exhibition that is being showcased at the Clipper Lounge until May 25. Featuring works by local artists, each piece sold will raise money for Operation Smile China Media Mission, a medical charity that provides free surgery to underprivileged children on the mainland with cleft lips or palates. The exhibition features up to 15 dedicated works by Hong Kong-based artists who have created special pieces inspired by the concept of a smile.

On the beverage side of Art Basel Hong Kong, Absolut collaborates with one of Hong Kong's exciting young artists, Nadim Abbas, to bring a not-to-be-missed conceptual art-bar event, "Apocalypse Postponed", through Saturday. This is the third consecutive year that Abbas has collaborated with the vodka brand and Art Basel. This year, Abbas creates a post-apocalyptic bunker-like environment drawing from cult science-fiction classics A Clockwork Orange, Dune and Alien, and features live music, DJ sets, theatrical performances and limited-edition cocktails, all conceived and curated by the artist. It's all happening at Midtown POP, 17/F, Soundwill Plaza 11 in Causeway Bay from 5pm until 2am.

As part of the wider Art May month, many of the city's restaurants and bars are offering special menus and art displays. Duddell's fifth exhibition to date, "Aftermath: Post-Sense Sensibility, Fifteen Years On", runs for four months. Curated by Philip Tinari, director of Beijing's Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, the exhibition brings together recent works from influential contemporary Chinese artists, each with their own individual voices.

At the recently-opened Bibo, diners can enjoy French fine dining among works and installations by renowned international street artists such as Vhils, Invader, JonOne, Damien Hirst, King of Kowloon and Banksy throughout the year. This street-art with fine-dining concept is an international first.