Jackson Pollock on a plate: Italian pair combine food with art in Hong Kong
Two creative types working on one project can lead to artistic differences. But that's not the case for chef Mauro Paolini and painter Catia Uliassi.
It's not just that she paints and he cooks - he cooks what she paints.
The Italian couple, who both work at Uliassi, a two-Michelin-star restaurant in Senigallia, a seaside town in the province of Ancona on Italy's Adriatic coast, are happily combining their talents to present "Mauro Paolini VS Catia Uliassi", a unique dining experience where all his dishes are inspired by the colourful nature of her works.
Diners in Hong Kong will get a chance to see and taste the fruits of this collaboration when it's dished up on the table - and on the walls - at the Dine-Art Private Kitchen in Aberdeen at the end of the month.
"The dishes that have been prepared for this event truly represent my art," says Uliassi. "Mauro and I have known each other for a long time. I know what he loves about my art - the colour, the subject matter, the simplicity of my brushstrokes and the carefully chosen material that I use.
"In turn he knows what I love - eating together with friends, the respect for primary ingredients, the simplicity of his cooking, the use of innovative techniques and products from our region."
Paolini has worked with some of the world's best chefs during his 22-year career: "I feel lucky to have been able to improve myself by working with well-known Michelin chefs." These include stints at three-Michelin-star restaurant El Bulli with chef Ferran Adrià in 1998 and, in 2004, with Spanish chef Martín Berasategui, whose eponymous restaurant has three Michelin stars.
Paolini says that creating a menu to match his partner's paintings was "quite difficult, but not impossible".
The seven-course menu, priced at HK$888, has also been paired with fine Italian wines from the region, and was, according to Paolini, fun to create. He says the most unusual element was using couscous in a dessert, in this case serving it with almond ice cream and pomegranate granita.
"Food lovers in Hong Kong who join us for this special menu will find a lot of surprises."
With both artists hailing from a seaside town, it's not surprising that the menu is seafood heavy with mouth-watering dishes such as pan-fried Hokkaido scallops, cauliflower purée, gold leaves, chicory and black truffle, as well as house-made ricotta-stuffed ravioli with rosemary and grey mullet bottarga. On the dessert menu is salty caramel, hazelnut sponge, hazelnut ice cream and black truffle.
Dine-Art, a relative newcomer to the private kitchen scene, has upped the dine/art concept. In the past it has shown works by Australian painter Fred Williams and Chinese-French artist Zao Wou-ki. For this event it will show 15 paintings by Uliassi and the artist will be present during all four dinners from January 28 to 31. She, along with her partner, will present the dishes that have been paired with the paintings.
Uliassi's style has been compared with the works of American abstract artist Jackson Pollock, while some of her techniques are reminiscent of Philippe Artias, a French artist who lived the last period of his life in Numana, near Senigallia.
Dine-Art Private Kitchen, 16/F Kwai Bo Industrial Bldg, 40 Wong Chuk Hang Rd, Aberdeen, tel: 6745 9130