AO& Fall Residency New York City

This fall, the Austrian collective AO& is on a residency in New York which is happening as a seperate event alongside of John Gerrards exhibition at Simon Preston gallery. For the NYC residency, AO& has adopted a yet-to-be-renovated building in the lower east side as their base to conduct the daily cooking of exquisit meals for a limited amount of people.
For their cooking practice AO& follow a distinct concept. They only use ingredients of 'disclosed origin' meaning they cook with foodstuffs they have themselves traced back to the producers.
It is important to note that this does not imply following the concept of local-regional foods (e.g. 'grocal'), but rather a practice concerned with 'connecting' to the origin of what we eat. This allows AO& to cook with a strong sense for the food, using it with respect and forwarding it with the best intentions, 'righteous' to the guests of their dinners. So the meals in NYC are composed of a mixture of  ingredients: salt from Altaussee, meat from upstate New York or lemons from California for example.
I enjoyed (truly) a meal cooked by AO& on last Sunday. The antidote of the raw space in the lower east side and the exquisite cooking was remarkable. AO& guided the guests through the evening with their cooking performance (see pictures below) and explanations about the ingredients used for the food. It was evident that AO& have, through the disclosure of aliments, a strong connection to the food they cook, which put quite simply tasted amazing.
An eleven course menu started with a simple glass of original NYC-water, followed by a light soup, then becoming heavier and saltier. The pictures below take you through some of the courses and show glimpses of how AO& works 'hand-on' to prepare the single courses.
AO&'s practice reminds us of how important and luxurious 'good food' is. Nowadays, that a healthy and benign nutrition is only available to the smallest portion of the population, one interpretation for their (cooking)art is to make clear how difficult it is to prepare food of good quality with the knowledge of what you are actually eating and as well how time consuming that can be.
This post has been updated with pictures from a second dinner with AO& in NYC. There was definitely an evolution happening in their cooking style during their NYC residency. Courses are shifting from day to day depending on inspiration and availability of condiments. The diversity of ingredients represented in the NYC fall residency cooking series was rather modest compared to other AO& dinners which nourish on a vast network of disclosed suppliers. In NYC AO& had to source all ingredients within a few days which caused a limited set of condiments which in turn made the dinners very focused and reduced.
 Even the microscopic leftovers made painters blush. 

No comments: