For Some Chefs, It’s All About the Staging

Mario Batali sings

We all know that chefs have become stars, but, in Chicago, they're actually taking to the stage. As already reported, Grant Achatz joined Michael Ruhlman at the Steppenwolf Theatre last month to discuss the making of a chef—and the end of molecular gastronomy. But it was Mario Batali who went way beyond mere lecturing to accompany a performance of "Le Quattro Stagioni dalla Cucina Futurismo" (The Four Seasons of Futurist Cuisine), a chamber piece inspired by The Futurist Cookbook, in which the Italian revolutionary F.T. Marinetti famously called for a culinary coup d'etat, way back in 1932. As the ensemble, "eighth blackbird," played softly at FLATFILEgalleries in the city's gritty West Loop art district, our silver-tongued chef dramatically detailed the preparation of such fictional dishes as the "Throat-Explosion," a solid liquid consisting of a pellet of Parmesan cheese steeped in Marsala. Pure fantasy? Maybe not, for this dish sounds a lot like Achatz's vividly real Black Truffle Explosion, a raviolo of warm truffle jus, garnished with a slice of truffle, that bursts suddenly free in your mouth.

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