And for Our Next Course … the Centerpiece

AT A RECENT event in Paris for the London-based jewelry brand Alighieri, the food artist Imogen Kwok laid out along the length of a lavish banquet table blocks of steamed couscous and bulgur that she crumbled at the corners to evoke ancient ruins. Alighieri, which takes its name from the medieval Florentine poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri, specializes in gold pendants that recall Roman heirlooms, whose sense of antiquity the 31-year-old Kwok wanted to reflect in her tablescape. Trimming the couscous monoliths were oven-blistered cherry tomatoes and pickled cherries, fleshy scallops displayed in their shells like archaeological treasures and cooked green beans plaited into braids.

Instead of being part of a traditional table setting — in which plates and cutlery flank a floral arrangement — the composition functioned as centerpiece and meal (guests were encouraged to serve themselves and dined at a separate table). Kwok was inspired by the French Algerian artist Kader Attia, who in 2009 used couscous, a North African staple, to build a scale model of the ancient city of Ghardaia, Algeria. “I wanted to treat the table as a canvas,” Kwok says. “I like to look at what artists are doing and work out how to make that into something you can smell, taste and eat.”

Related Articles

Latest Posts