PAIRING ELEMENTS / BULL AND BEGGAR / March 3, 2014 - Asheville, NC
An artistic collaboration in the River Arts District recently pulled together an unparalleled performance piece, bringing together vitreous, ceramic and culinary artists and a blacksmith to present a five-course theme dinner titled Pairing Elements at The Bull and Beggar restaurant. Co-event coordinator and curator Nick Moen said nothing like this has ever been previously accomplished in the River Arts District.
“In fact it hasn’t been done anywhere in this context where the handmade art is in a restaurant as a gallery,” Moen says. “Sometimes there will be a single artist who will make tableware for the restaurants, but this is a unique experience because there are so many artists who contributed to such an extensive program.” 
Executive chef Matt Dawes created the menu and prepared the food, which was served on plates designed and made by local artists especially for the feast. Beverages were served in glasses also handcrafted for this special dinner. Even one of the dining utensils used at the table was forged by Tina Councell, the metal artist next door, exclusively for this groundbreaking event.
On the menu, the courses were named Earth, Ocean, Ice, Fire and Air. Dawes said he chose each for their relevance to the artists’ work and what he uses in his cooking. “My thinking was that the potters, glassblowers and the metal artist all use fire. Clay is earth, glass is sand and metal comes from ore. Our food is nurtured and grown in the earth and the ocean. In some way we can connect all these arts to the same basic elements.” 
For devotees of fresh oysters, the Bull and Beggar features Blue Point, Chunu, Kumamoto, Chef Creek, and Sewansecott varieties from the sea. The dining room’s ambiance is chic industrial with soft but adequate lighting from vintage fixtures. Oil lamps on the tables convincingly appear to have been made from cast iron and sheet metal screwed together, but are actually made from wheel-thrown clay by ceramicist Andrew Massey.
The service staff was friendly, unobtrusive and well-informed about the menu. The Earth course included a roasted beef marrow bone with mushrooms served over a bed of finely chopped roasted olives that vaguely resembled soil, and a sauce made from mild, black garlic, served on plates made by Josh Copus. The course was served with a forged marrow spoon made by Councell and glass of 2012 Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Granges served in a footed, hand-blown goblet with a glass top made by Kathryn Adams and a slip-cast porcelain stem and base made by Moen.
The Ocean course featured a colossal oyster on the half shell with clam, octopus, lobster meat and sea vegetables topped with “sea foam” made from a reduction of the stock in which all the seafood was cooked. This was served with a 2012 Meyer Fonne Edelzwicker served in a delicate, optical stemless hand-blown glass made by Hayden Wilson from a centuries-old Italian mold.
The Ice course came to refresh the palate. It was a sorbet inspired by eastern European beet borscht. “I wanted to make a savory course that was all frozen,” said Dawes. “It came with a granita of sweetened buttermilk over casha, a Russian word for toasted buckwheat, and garnished with a sprig of fresh dill.” The course was served in a small, translucent porcelain cup on an opaque ceramic charger, both made by Moen. “We paired Ice with Etienne DuPont Cidre Bouché Brut de Normandie, a bone-dry cider having a barnyard like nose because it’s openly fermented,” Dawes said.
The Fire course was a tender braised leg of pheasant served over a carrot and hay-ash purée with smoked cauliflower. It was accompanied by a 2012 Cordero di Montezemolo Barbara d’Alba and served on a plate made from local clay by Lindsay Rogers.
The final course, Air” was a floating island topped with a black currant compote over crème Anglaise, garnished with maple cotton candy and served on porcelain vessels made by Elisa di Fio and David Eichelberger. It was accompanied by Raymond Ragnaude Pinau des Charentes. Other contributing artists included glassblowers Ben Elliot, Joe Flazone and Geoff Koslow. Moen, Adams and Copus are planning to host a second collaborative River Arts District event at The Bull and Beggar sometime this summer.
CUP & PLATE / KNIFE & FORK / July 1, 2013 - Spruce Pine, NC 
Nathan Allen, owner and head chef at Knife and Fork, will host ceramic artists Elisa Di Feo, Nick Moen and gwendolyn yoppolo and glass artist Kathryn Adams for an evening of fine dining.  Allen will plate on handmade tableware created by the artists.  This collaboration of culinary and visual artists celebrates the handmade and highlights the sustainability of Western North Carolina’s food and craft arts.   The Cup & Plate @ Knife & Fork event is a premier exhibition of fine dining that will act as template for others like it around the country.  
The tableware in Cup and Plate was created specifically for the event, in response to Allen's design ideas for presenting his menu of fresh and local foods.  The chef’s thoughts on form and color were considered by the materials artists as they designed service vessels for the meal.  The final plating of the dinner will complete this dialogue among artists and will offer guests a dining experience that celebrates the union of the culinary and the material arts.
PAIRING POTTERY / SAPOR CAFE & WINTER WARES / CIRCA GALLERY / December 12, 2013 - Minneapolis, MN
Culinary Artists and Tableware Designers Collaborate on Fine Dining Event and Dessert Formal in Warehouse District. 
Sapor Café and Circa Gallery will host ceramic and glass artists for an evening of pairing food and beverages with handmade pottery and glass.  Chef Tanya Siebenaler head Chef at Sapor Cafe will prepare four courses. Each course will be paired with a plate and glass intended for the prepared dish.  These pairings are the culmination of months of dialogue on how to create a unique and exciting experience with glass and ceramics as the canvas for Chef Siebenaler’s culinary creations.  After the dinner, guests will have the opportunity to purchase and use handmade mugs and plates with desserts and beverages prepared by Pastry Chef Tom Lancaster.  This collaboration of culinary and visual artists celebrates the handmade and highlights the flourishing Minnesotan food and craft arts.
Pairing Pottery Dining Experience @ Sapor Café will take place on Thursday December 12, 2013 at 6:30pm.  Seating is limited, $65/person for a four course meal. For reservations visit www.saporcafe.com.  Each limited edition piece of art will be available for guests to purchase and have special dining experiences at their own home.
 Winter Wares Pottery Dessert Formal will happen on the same evening from 7pm-10pm at Circa Gallery.  This event is free and open to the public.  To enjoy the delicious food and beverages provided by Tom Lancaster, guests must purchase a mug or plate to use.
Participating Artists :
Kathryn Adams
Josh Beck
Victoria Dawes
Nicholas DeVries
William Dix
Adam Gruetzmacher
Mike Helke
Joe Kraft
Nick Moen
Erin Paradis
David Swenson