Recipe for a unique night out
Riverside Studios offers food for thought with a 'culinary concert'
Tuesday 25 May 2004
Make sure you have an appetite when you go and see Patatboem at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith: it's a "culinary concert", and the audience gets to eat all the food at the end of the evening. Sitting at long tables, spectators will watch a two-course meal being prepared by two chefs and five musicians who, while cutting and chopping food in perfect synchronicity, will create melodious cooking sounds to the accompaniment of live jazz. The pudding, a dish of avocado ice cream, will be served to the strains of the Talking Heads song "Heaven".
The man who devised the show - and the recipes - is Peter De Bie, artistic director of the Belgian theatre company Laika and one of the chefs. Patatboem has already toured throughout Europe, and now De Bie is jotting down his shopping list, per performance, for London. "We need 16kg of peas, 50 avocados, 15kg of duck, 3kg of ginger and 50 limes," says De Bie. "I am quite prepared to do the shopping myself, but they will have to help me because I do not know where all the shops are."
Did he always want to be a chef? "No, but I felt there was a common energy and concentration between cooks and musicians," says De Bie, who has created three other food-related theatre productions. The first, 1998'sPeep & Eat, was a culinary peep show; Coupe Royale, in 2000, was a theatrical installation made with food; and the third, Undeuxdouce, in 2001, was a sensory theatre experience that incorporated the smells and tastes of food. De Bie explains: "The audience were fed profiteroles while they watched a chocolate waterfall behind them and were urinated on by a copy of the famous Brussels statue Manneken Pis [the peeing boy], but with a blue alcoholic cocktail."
De Bie continues: "We rely so much on the senses of hearing and seeing. But we are losing smell, touch and taste. Theatre gives you direct contact with the audience and I am interested in communicating with the public using all five senses. There is also the social aspect of food. You have better social relations with an audience you give a drink or food to."
The evening's menu will comprise an alcoholic cocktail, followed by marinated duck with ginger and oriental spices, plus minted pea puree and vegetables. "You have to try it!" enthuses De Bries, though he admits that vegetarians will be able to eat only the vegetables.
So, what came first - the recipes or the music? "They came together," says De Bie, who devised the recipes while the composer clunked pots and pans in the kitchen. "All the sounds - from the cutting of the cucumbers to the slicing of the bread - are part of the composition, and amplified by microphones.
"But when we are touring internationally, we always make sure to ask the organisers of the venue to get in people to do the washing up."
'Patatboem: a culinary concert', Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, London W6 (020-8237 1111; www.riversidestudios.co.uk), 2 to 19 June
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