1. Ramon P. Santos and Francisco F. Feliciano, National Artists for Music.

    WORDS PABLO A. TARIMAN 

    For full story, visit http://www.highlife.com.ph/Issue/112/A_much_needed_boost_for_contemporary_music.php

     


  2. Unappreciated, almost forgotten

    José María V. Zaragoza, National Artist for Architecture.

    WORDS Augusto VillalónPHOTOS Chippy Rivera



    José María, an almost forgotten icon in the development of truly Philippine architecture, totally deserves the distinction of finally being conferred as National Artist for Architecture.

    The unappreciated Zaragoza’s career spanned World War II eras, starting from the heady “Peace Time” of the Commonwealth days when the country weaned itself away from Spanish influence to embrace American ways. His long career continued through the post-World War II reconstruction of ravaged Manila, ending at the time after the country was shaking off the residue of a devastating dictatorship.

    The last 50 years are a relatively lost period in the collective Philippine memory. Preferring to focus our attention on the architectural heritage of the Spanish Colonial era, we seem to have shut out those momentous years of post-World War II Philippine architecture. This dynamic period evolved into the innovative modern residences and public buildings constructed during the halcyon pre-Marcos days of the 1950s and 1960s, a time when the Philippines was considered among the most progressive environments in Asia.

    The Marcos era continued progress of architecture in the country mostly by constructing its own genre of architectural monuments that were testimonies to the administration’s achievements. This trend in construction continued the age-old practice of previous regimes to proclaim their greatness through monumental architecture: the Spanish did it through building colonial towns and churches, and the American imprint was through neoclassic structures in the image of Washington DC during the early 1900s. They built provincial capitols, grand Manila structures like the Post Office, Philippine General Hospital, and Congress (now the National Museum of the Philippines).

    The post-war era was a stimulating time for the Philippines, when Asia recognized the country as a regional leader whose quality of life ranked among the highest in the region. We were certainly no backwater country then. The Philippines was the only Asian country with a smooth blending of Philippine, Spanish, and American influences, a unique quality that drew visitors from neighboring countries who traveled to Manila for infusions of its multicultural milieu that was evident in the unique local lifestyle and reflected in its architecture. It was said that at that time Manila, especially the sweeping seaside vista of Dewey (now Roxas) Boulevard, manifested a distinct visual identity unlike any other cityscape in Asia, a cityscape more attuned to the Latino seaside boulevards of Rio de Janeiro in sight and feel. Zaragoza’s architecture evoked the seamless blend of Asian, Spanish (although in his case, more Californian and Latin American than Iberian), and American architecture that reflected the multicultural Philippine lifestyle.

    It is within this multicultural perspective that the architecture of Zaragoza should be viewed because it is in this context that he made his greatest contributions through producing architecture that was perfectly attuned to the tropical environment and the Philippine lifestyle. Although the previous generation of Philippine architects (Juan Arellano, Tomás Mapúa, Pablo Antonio, Andres Luna de San Pedro, and others) were foreign-trained, Zaragoza was among the earliest products of Philippine architectural education, having graduated from the University of Santo Tomás in Manila in 1936, and passing licensure examinations in 1938 to become the 82nd architect of the Philippines.

    He looked not only to his native Philippines for inspiration but actively broadened his horizons through seeking international contact. Early in his career, he initiated a vigorous personal correspondence with the great Frank Lloyd Wright, finally visiting the master’s Arizona atelier in 1956. Although Zaragoza imbibed American architectural influences, especially those of Wright, he was more deeply attuned to the European and Latin American spirit. It was this influence that set him apart from his contemporaries who looked toward the United States for inspiration.

    Zaragoza, a deeply religious man, earned a diploma in liturgical art and architecture from the International Institute of Liturgical Catholic Churches in Rome which developed in him an expansive, innovative and thoroughly reverential approach to church design as seen in the major religious structures completed during his career: Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Tala (1950), Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City (1954), Villa San Miguel in Mandaluyong (1954), Pius XII Center in Manila (1958) and, finally, the controversial expansion of Quiapo Church (1984).

    After closer study of his accomplishments, Zaragoza emerges as an unnoticed figure worthy of deeper consideration because of his unique place in the protracted search for that elusive “Filipino Architecture” because his architecture is, indeed, Filipino in every way.

    Culturally grounded in Philippine architectural vocabulary, Zaragoza distilled traditional forms and architectural imagery, reinterpreting them in the modern architecture of his day. For instance, he took the familiar Spanish colonial arches, removed the fussy baroque details of old, reconstructed them in cement, and rendered them into the simplified, unornamented shapes that are considered hallmarks of the sophisticated International Style of the 1950s. This monumental minimalism is best experienced in the procession of arcades surrounding the open courtyards of the Santo Domingo Church Convent in Quezon City: evoking cloisters of old through the use of simple yet eloquent modern architectural forms, unornamented, serenely elegant, an architectural composition evoking in a thoroughly modern vocabulary all of the familiar visual reminders of old Spanish colonial cathedrals in the Philippines. Zaragoza’s strict architectural composition—carried out with total restraint, without the overwrought baroque trappings that Filipinos love to the point of cliché—has proven itself to be timeless.

    The strong impact of Zaragoza on Philippine residential architecture was heretofore likewise unrecognized. His designs developed the visual framework associated with the popular “Spanish style” of architecture favored in residences of the 1950s to 1960s. Although no such style exists in Spain but rather recalls the sprawling California-style villas of Los Angeles, the genre was nevertheless called “Spanish style” in the Philippines. Among the best surviving examples is Zaragoza’s 1951 Casino Español de Manila, a shaded, cool, and serene oasis in the traffic-choked center of Manila, a sanctuary of gentility. The Casino Español features a series of interior courtyards framed with deep, arcaded loggias that open to the outdoors on one side and are separated from the interior spaces by arched door and window openings. Terra-cotta tile frames edges of low-pitched roofs. Heavily varnished wooden beams support low, sloping interior ceilings covering interior rooms that are walled with plain, painted concrete, and floored with ordinary red cement tiles. The look evolved into the residential prototype of the era. It was residential architecture so appropriate not only to the tropical environment, but to the pulse of the era. It was architecture that reminded but did not replicate the Spanish-American roots that influenced Philippine lifestyle during the post-World War II days.

    In 1960, the internationally eminent Brazilian architects Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa invited Zaragoza to be among the guest architects to participate in the massive project of designing Brasilia, the new capital for Brazil. This opportunity was not lost on Zaragoza: since that time, the Latino imprint on his work was indelible. In Brazil, Zaragoza discovered and understood how to work the plasticity of concrete that allowed the possibility of molding the material into distinct shapes. His architecture turned sculptural, lyrical, with a Latin exuberance that set him apart from his contemporaries.

    His post-Brazil work, notably the façades of the Meralco Center on Ortigas Avenue and Philbanking Building in Port Area (both built in 1965) and the Commercial Bank and Trust Company Building in Escolta, Manila (1969) insinuate the subtle flowing Latino lines of Brazilian architecture. Evoking Niemeyer’s cathedral in Brasilia, Zaragoza topped Union Church in Makati (built 1975, now demolished) with a crown of folded concrete plates.

    Continuing his exploraration of the plastic qualities of concrete allowed him to construct flowing, daring sculptural designs as seen in Virra Mall in Greenhills (built 1975, demolished January 2005), Saint John Bosco Parish Church in Makati (1977), and Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Sucat, Parañaque (1979). The elegant Meralco Center in Ortigas (1965) is his strongest, most sophisticatedly subtle expression of lyricism in concrete.

    His catalogue of projects, whether completed or conceptual, illustrates his strongly individualistic architectural philosophy that continued to develop into full maturity through the years together with the progression of his practice. Within the timeline that charts the development of Philippine architecture, the contributions by Zaragoza are mostly unrecorded. The monograph, “José María Zaragoza, Architecture for God, for Man” takes an excellent step at documenting his architectural contributions and to make architects, educators, historians, and the public aware ofJosé María V. Zaragoza and his highly esteemed place in that forgotten period of Philippine history.

    The National Artist conferment assures Zaragoza’s place in Philippine architectural history at last, and just as importantly, establishes his work as truly Filipino.

    INCIDENTAL INTELLIGENCE

    José María Zaragoza, Architecture for God and for Man, Ruben Defeo and Ma. Lourdes Zaragoza Banson, authors. Published by ArtPostAsia, Makati. Tel. (632) 811-5867. 

     


  3. Flashback Friday: Statuesque Beauty

    Haute couture in the museum

    PHOTOGRAPHY Tim + Miguel De Leon | FASHION STLYLING Millet Arzaga GonzalesMAKEUP Verna Marin for L’Oreal Paris | HAIR Yrynn Lopez assisted by Lycka AquinoMODEL Camila Viera of Elite Manila 

     


  4. Four Poems

    Cirilo F. Bautista, National Artist for Literature

     

  5. Braving stormy weather

    Alice Reyes, National Artist for Dance, as Lena Horne.

    WORDS SAM L. MARCELO | PHOTOGRAPHY KAI HUANG |

    STYLING SOLEIL ANGELES FOR MISS KAYCEE | HAIR AND MAKEUP ISH SISON

    High Life’s “AS” section requires a lot of back and forth with its subjects. The September issue features Alice Reyes, National Artist for Dance, as Lena Horne. Horne was Ms. Reyes’s first choice, but she also considered Pilita Corrales, the section’s inaugural subject. (Ms. Reyes though that Pilita as Elvis was “a scream!” and “so brilliant!”).

    Ms. Reyes explains:

    “When I saw Pilita running across the Little Theater stage in her very high heels at the very last run of Mario O’ Hara’s Stageshow (done by Cris Millado, with my sister Denisa as choreographer), I thought:  I should be like her when I grow up!!!  In her 70s and cavorting in high heels!!!  Incredible.

    Who in my generation did not wish we could bend and sing, like she did (and still does?) in her smashing but ever so tight gowns and high, high heels!?!  The only problem is at my age, I know I will not be able to bend sideways as deeply as she did, in high heels without falling on my face—oh, dear!” — Sam L. Marcelo

    For full story on Alice Reyes as Lena Horne, visit http://www.highlife.com.ph/Issue/112/Braving_stormy_weather.php

     


  6. In his own words: Gerry Alanguilan explains the work he had to do to restore Francisco Coching’s El Indio

    I’ve always dreamed of seeing collected volumes of vintage Filipino comics on the shelves. You see, our old comics came out as anthologies. You only got like 4-5 pages of a bigger story per issue. Each issue would come out once every two weeks (later on they did it weekly), so one story would stretch on for months or years. There was virtually no effort to collect some of the better stories into one book to be appreciated by future audiences. You see, once those anthologies came out, they were never reprinted. They were gone forever. Also, there were hardly any books that archived and preserved the history of Philippine comics. So once those comics faded away and the companies that published them closed, there were entire generations of Filipinos who were not aware we had such a rich history of comics, and that we produced some of the best artists in the world.

    When I realized this back in 2000, I felt I had to do something. The only thing I could do back then was to collect as much material as I can and upload them at my website. That’s why the Philippine Comics Art Museum was born. You can find it here: http://www.alanguilan.com/museum/

    But I knew it wasn’t enough. I wanted to compile comics stories into books and publish reference books on the history of comics. I started with Coching’s El Indio because it was my favorite. As an artist, this is in my opinion, Coching at his prime. This was when he was doing his absolute best stuff. I considered it a masterpiece in comics art.

    By this time I had met Coching’s family and they showed me complete sets of stories in printed comics form. I was amazed. Here was finally an opportunity to have at least one book compiled. But there were no longer any original artworks. In those days, publishers believed the original art belonged to them and promptly destroyed them to prevent other companies from using them. It’s an unbelievable, heartbreaking tragedy, but it happened. We lost thousands upon thousands of works of art because of this.

    But Coching’s family still had these printed comics, and they had a complete set of El Indio pages. The pages were yellowed with age, and because of printing issues of the time, there were lots of dirt and errors and shadows. I asked if I could borrow the pages so I can scan them for a possible compilation. Thankfully, they agreed. This was in 2004.

    Digitally restoring the pages took a long time. I’ve had to scan at a very high resolution, often at 600-800dpi and then went in pixel by pixel to bring out Coching’s lines and strengthen the blacks. I’ve had to restore lines that were blurred or erased and I removed dirt and errors. Sometimes I replaced lettering that were too difficult to read by pasting letters gathered from elsewhere in the page. The first page I restored took an entire day. Later on, I was finishing at least 3 pages a day. But bear in mind I also had a job. I did his restoration in my free time which wasn’t much. By 2007 I took on an assistant, Zara Macandili. I taught her the restoration technique and very soon she was doing it better than me. By the end of 2008 the restoration was finally finished. All that was left was to find a publisher.

    Good thing the Vibal Foundation stepped in and offered to publish it for me. The book was finally launched at Komikon on October 2009. I was very happy about that. Not only that, Vibal also published a high-end coffee table book on the Life and Art of Francisco Coching at the same time, which I was also involved in.

    For the full story, go to http://www.highlife.com.ph/Issue/112/The_art_of_comics.php

     

  7. Check out the highlights of BusinessWorld High Life magazine’s September 2014 issue at www.highlife.com.ph. Out in stands on Monday.

     

  8. Alain Ducase became the first chef to hold six Michelin stars.

    Matters of taste

    Micky Fenix on Alain Ducasse

    Alain Ducasse could have stayed a bright star in the culinary firmament, seen but unreachable. Instead, he came to the Philippines twice to train students in the art of French cuisine. A partnership between Enderun Colleges and Alain Ducasse Formation et Conseil paved the way for his first visit in 2010, where he shared his cooking philosophy: “clarity of taste, precision in execution, and respect for the product which… means retaining the original flavor.”

    Written in his first American cookbook Ducasse: Flavors of France (Alain Ducasse, 1998), those lessons were born during his apprenticeship under the best French chefs of that time: Michel Guérard, Roger Verge and Alain Chapel. According to the book, it was Chapel who taught Ducasse “reverence for the product” through dishes that “had the appearance of simplicity and a casual grace that belied all the work and technical experiences that have gone into it.”

    Ducasse called this quality “faux simplicity” and demonstrated what it meant at the old Enderun campus in Ortigas. He asked participants to assist in the preparation of ingredients. Vegetables had to be cut in a particular way. Ingredients were cooked separately. Everything came together beautifully as a whole and yet individual flavors remained discernible.

    The experience was a glimpse into the methods of Ducasse and how he keeps the quality of his food constant in his many restaurants, which, as of last count, number 35 in 11 countries. The latest additions are miX in St. Petersburg, Russia and IDAM in Doha, Qatar. In 1998, he became the first chef to hold six Michelin stars when two of his restaurants—Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo and Restaurant Alain Ducasse in Paris—were awarded three stars each by the Michelin Guide. Since then, he has garnered a total of 21 Michelin stars and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy. He has also written several books, among them Alain Ducasse’s Culinary Encyclopedia and Nature: Simple, Sain et Bon, a volume that assembles 190 recipes for “eating well.” 

    'TIME IS SHORT'

    Ducasse grew up on a farm in Les Landes, a department in southwestern France known for its sandy beaches and pine forests. Vegetables were harvested from the family garden, foie gras from the ducks and geese his parents raised—ideal conditions for today’s sought after organic, garden-to-market, regional way of cooking. Ducasse was a precocious boy with a discerning tongue who, at the age of nine, told his grandmother that she had overcooked the harricot vert. He was asked if he wanted to do the cooking. That was the start of Ducasse’s illustrious career. Any chef today would jump at the chance to train with the man who created the Alain Ducasse Formation et Conseil (ADF) in 1999 as a way of transmitting his philosophy.

    Ducasse’s 2010 trip to the Philippines coincided with the graduation of the first batch of ADF students, an event almost eclipsed by the arrival of the man himself. Organizers made no bones of the fact that Ducasse was no ordinary visitor. Specific instructions were issued to photograph him only on his left side. Later, it was revealed that the request had nothing to do with vanity. Instead, it was because Ducasse sustained serious injuries when a Learjet went down in 1984. He was the only survivor. The accident, which happened early in his career, must have contributed to his extraordinary drive and compelled him to write: “Time is short, time is precious and there are many things to accomplish.”

    Ducasse is in his sixties, but his energy is unflagging. He is constantly on the move, flying around the world to visit his many restaurants and schools. During his recent visit to Manila, it was announced that ADF would henceforth be known as “Ducasse Education” and that Enderun Colleges, the first Ducasse Institute in Asia, was launching a new program—a Diploma in Culinary Arts-Chef de Partie—open to those who already have culinary degrees or have worked for two to three years in professional kitchens.

    Ducasse also took time to visit Tuloy Foundation’s street children, who are being trained as culinary professionals by the Ducasse Institute. Tuloy Foundation was founded by Fr. Marciano “Rocky” Evangelista, a member of the Salesians of Don Bosco, a congregation that provides homes and training for disadvantaged children. The Ducasse Institute’s project with Tuloy Foundation dovetails with another charitable effort based in France that trains disadvantaged women, mostly immigrants from Africa, in the art of French cooking. According to Ducasse, two of the women in the program are now working for the French Prime Minister. Amused at the thought, he added that the two women probably never heard of the Prime Minister before.

    Ducasse was, of course, feted at commemorative lunches and dinners—a given whenever a chef of his stature visits. In 2010, Ducasse brought his ADF chefs, Nicholas Navarro and Timothy Briggs, who cooked a formal dinner that included salmon coated with green olive oil dressing and, for dessert, a chocolate bar ganache with gold leaf on top.

    Meanwhile, the 2014 dinner for the Tuloy Foundation program was prepared by Ducasse Ambassador chefs headed by Jerome Lacressonniere and Enderun Colleges’ executive chefs Cheong Yan See and Marc Chapolin. The highlight of the dinner was an auction to raise funds for the Foundation that included Ducasse’s own chef’s jacket, a handcrafted mortar and pestle, and dinners both here (provided by the Ducasse Institute chefs) and abroad (in Monaco’s Le Louis XV and Tokyo’s Beige, Alain Ducasse). Inevitably, conversations at these events are pushed toward Ducasse’s thoughts on Filipino cooking and ingredients. In 2010, the French chef went to Farmer’s Market in Cubao with chef Cheong Yan See, culinary head of Enderun Colleges, who guided Ducasse through a labyrinth of fruits and vegetables, fish and meat, sometimes giving him a taste of products that were, to him, unfamiliar. Ducasse saw a butcher deboning a pig’s head and was surprised by a huge maya-maya (red snapper) jumping from its stall to his feet. Midway, Margarita Fores of Cibo gave the chef his first taste of lumpiang ubod, a Negros specialty that is essentially a spring roll made of coconut pith. He was also treated to local fare, including kilawin, dinuguan, chicken binakol, lechon, pinakbet, bagnet, and adobo. Of the sampled dishes, Ducasse’s favorites were pinais na alimasag (shredded crab cooked in young coconut) and puso ng saging (banana heart cooked in coconut milk).

    BISTRONOMY

    Now a citizen of Monaco, Ducasse is still regarded as a French chef, never mind that he thinks that France is five years behind when it comes to certain trends. Street food, already embraced by Americans, has been snubbed by the French. On the 25th anniversary of the Le Louis XV restaurant in Monaco, 240 renowned chefs—including Denmark’s Redzepi, Australia’s Tetsuya, Japan’s Kanda, America’s Boulod—were invited to create their own versions of street food. All told, there were 350 Michelin stars among the invited chefs, several of whom were trained by Ducasse. During the cook-off, 10 opted use local produce from a Mediterranean market set up in Monte Carlo, giving birth to the term “haute street food.” There are good and bad versions of haute street food, said Ducasse, adding that “haute” merely means skillfully prepared.

    In a visit to South America last year, Ducasse was amazed by the number of people who attended Mistura, a Peruvian cultural festival that recognizes “the hard work that each person plays in the gastronomic chain,” and by the host country’s loyalty to local ingredients and traditional modes of cooking. According to Raymond Sokolov’s Why We Eat What We Eat (Summit Books, 1991), Peru was able to preserve its traditional fare because of its geographic isolation. Cut off from the rest of the world by the Andes, the Indian population in Peru was able to “develop its Creole cuisine in peace.”

    Mistura excites Ducasse because there is enough time to meet with fellow chefs and local producers in order to discuss ingredients and ideas over lunch. “One should spend time meeting people, talking with them and learning,” he said. “Face-to-face talks are something to preserve.” He added that fastfood will never replace a proper meal because it doesn’t lend itself to people gathering “around good food”—whether haute street food or haute cuisine—”and good wine.”

    Ducasse was part of the revolution that traded heavy sauces for the natural flavors of ingredients. He inherited this kind of cooking from his mentors, who are said to be the pillars of nouvelle cuisine. Ducasse put his own spin on this philosophy and created “bistronomy,” a movement that champions the bistro, an intimate restaurant serving moderately priced food. The change can be traced to Restaurant Alain Ducasse in Paris, which was awarded three Michelin stars in 1998. Linda Dannenburg, who wrote Ducasse: Flavors of France, described the menu as “elegant interpretations of pate en croute, canard a l’orange… baba au rhum.” But it is her description of that “Ducasse interpretation” that gives us a better idea of what bistronomy is: “A cuisine that is classic in inspiration but in touch with its times.” 

     


  9. Dishing out the details

    From the pop-up kitchen of Gilbert Pangilinan.

    IMAGES CHIPPY RIVERA

    In between slicing slabs of marbled Kobe beef and dusting plates with saffron, chef Gilbert Pangilinan is also keeping an eye on the dining area, where a subtle pantomime takes place. A slight nod or brief glance, he knows, must bring a waiter to a guest’s side. Without a single uttered word, glasses get filled and plates get taken away.

    Mr. Pangilinan, who co-owns the Neo-Japanese restaurant Kai in Greenbelt 5, is a trusted caterer among the country’s crème de la crème. The catering business is an offshoot of the restaurant—an opportunity Mr. Pangilinan and his partners stumbled upon while the establishment was being built. To make noise about their soon-to-open dining space, they held private dinners for their friends. As word-of-mouth about the restaurant spread, so did news of their private catering service.

    Every event is an elaborate choreography that may involve carrying food in restored English bone china over Makassar ebony floors that should neither be scratched nor dirtied. The Kai team can cater up to three events a day, ranging from a 1,000-person buffet to 400-person sit-down meal to an intimate two-person dinner inside a bedroom.

    At first blush, the process seems like simple science: “They call the office, tell me the details and then we create a menu around their requirements,” said Mr. Pangilinan. He usually deals with wives, whom he classifies into two groups. There are detail-oriented women who dissect everything, including the color of the lightbulbs (yellow is better than white for looking at food). “They want what they want, which is, usually, actually really good,” he said. “We’re very attentive. We listen.” And, at the other of the spectrum, are professionals who leave the decisions to Mr. Pangilinan since they cannot be bothered with the minutiae.

    The chef visits a client’s home and suggests what plates, silverware, and stemware to use, and what flowers should adorn the tables. Sometimes, the staff is requested to prepare meals in the private kitchen but Mr. Pangilinan hesitates since he doesn’t want to get the equipment dirty or risk damaging a stove worth millions. He prefers erecting a pop-up kitchen in the garage or laundry area.

    Setting up a day before the event gives leeway for changing decor, such as flowers. If many of the guests are ladies, every nook and cranny of the house—bathroom included—is filled with rare blossoms worth a pretty penny each. There have been instances where flowers cost as much as the food, which can run up to Php15,000 per lobster-laden plate.

    The menu, of course, is the most important part of the feast. Mr. Pangilinan emphasizes making food as personal as possible. There are thematic book club get-togethers, which he bases on the title of the month. Recently, a magic-themed bestseller was brought to life in a room covered in black with clowns, magicians, and rat-shaped bread.

    "Making food personal" also extends to doing research on individuals. A banker who hired Mr. Pangilinan for a weeklong series of meetings was pleased when guests came up to him to ask how he knew what their favorite food was. It was Mr. Pangilinan’s doing—he insisted on knowing who was attending even if he encountered initial resistance from the banker.

    Catering means accepting the idiosyncrasies of clients, who may have differing opinions about when a wine glass should be filled. Some say glasses should be emptied first, while others prefer to have their glasses perennially topped up without having to ask a waiter. Mr. Pangilinan takes note of these preferences and remembers—no small task given that the vintages are often auction rarities. The Kai team has a dedicated waiter keeping watch, ready to pour at the appropriate moment. “That’s service. You don’t need to talk,” said Mr. Pangilinan.

    In case of disagreements, he has learned to use finesse, or as he puts it: “Even if you don’t agree, you agree—unless you know it will ruin the dinner.” When a downpour threatened to ruin an outdoor event that was weeks in the making, Mr. Pangilinan requested that a tent be erected over the venue. His iPhone weather app was insufficient evidence to persuade a client that, yes, there were rainclouds daring to ruin the party. He asked the boat captain to intercede. Mr. Pangilinan was smart enough to know that a boat captain’s opinion on all things meteorological had more weight than a chef’s. He got his tent with minimal fuss.

    The New York-schooled, Nobu-trained chef loves the dichotomy of his business. Running Kai restaurant is more or less the same every day while catering private dinners comes with many surprises. “It’s more exciting,” he said. PED 

     


  10. Food as art, continued

    A piece of toast as Frida Kahlo. The best thing since sliced bread.

    WORDS SAM L. MARCELOIMAGES IDA SKIVENES 

    Ida Skivenes likes to say that she eats breakfast with 200,000 people. Known as “IdaFrosk” on Instagram, the Norwegian statistician-turned-artist became Internet-famous by treating her toast as a canvas. She regularly posts overhead snaps of quirky compositions made from fruits and vegetables—her colored socks visible at the edge of the frame.

    In her Art Toast Project, she remakes iconic works such as Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Edvard Munch’s The Scream, and Frida Kahlo’s uni-browed self-portrait on pieces of sliced bread. Aside from choosing paintings that she likes, she also considers how recognizable they are and how detailed they are (the fewer details, the better). Everything gets eaten once the photograph is taken and she assures High Life that her breakfast tastes as good as it looks.

    "I’m not the first person to post food art on Instagram but I believe that my work is successful because it appeals to both kids and adults through humor and unusual imagery" she said. "A lot of the other food art out there is more one-sided, particularly the kind meant for kids’ lunch boxes."

    Her Instagram fame changed her life. She quit her desk job analyzing statistics in order to focus on her food art. She’s appeared on talk shows, delivered inspirational talks, and worked on ad campaigns. She also released a book, Eat Your Art Out, in several languages. When she enters a grocery, Ms. Skivenes sees a world of possibility. “I pay much closer attention to colors and shapes and I’m always looking for possible new ideas,” she said. “I see myself as someone who started to play with her food at the age of 28.”