Let’s explore that question… culinary practice is usually not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about art. At the National Congress on Culture, Opening Cocktail, I went out and asked culinary experts about food creation as an art form.
Top Chef, Nelvin Reyes believes that in order to gain someone’s attention in the industry, an artist must use their culinary expertise to keep the guests or audiences entertained, whether it’s the way the dish is presented or the details which are added afterwards. The arts, heritage, diversity and spirit in the community, is told through these different characteristics that make up the cultural and artistic person.
Other culinary experts believe that the only thing which gets them ahead of the game is word of mouth. Sous Chef at North 53, Josh Dissanayake says, “it’s more important to do what you want to do than to know how to do something”. Josh took me through the steps to create the Duck Rilette with Salt Cured Foie Gras & Sweet N’Sour Jelly. With immaculate attention to detail, he provided evidence to backup the claim that culinary practice is indeed an art form.
Josh says that “anyone can cook if you learn how to, but to be an expert you have to cook beyond toast and eggs.” He embraces the culinary arts as a positive challenge and encourages taking the “least easiest thing to cook and make it into something likeable.” The challenge is what motivates him.
Culinary kitchens don’t often allow guests to view the actual kitchen. But at Josh’s restaurant, he lets guests tour the kitchen to see how food is prepared. People enjoy knowing where their food comes from, and it’s important for the community to see the hard work that goes into the art of food. It’s not just simply “stuffing your face,” says Josh.
When asked about his strategies for progressing in the culinary field, Josh emphasized that work is part of his identity, and his personality is brought out in the food.
The 2015 National Congress on Culture brought many laughs, new connections, exciting and insightful new experiences, and most of all, the biggest collection of art in all its’ forms. The biggest take away from the Congress was learning that art does not just mean a painting on a canvas; but rather it can evolve into a dance, instrumental number, song, poetry, multimedia production, culinary arts, and just simply words in relation to media interviews; you’ll see this art get knocked out of the water by Marci Ien, Co-host of CTV’s Canada AM. Marci mentored the CTV/Culture Days Student Reporters on Saturday morning, sharing her profound and insightful stories that inspired the emerging reporters and taught them important tips about the journalism field.
The first exhilarating experience involving art was the red carpet welcome by the improv team. They made “regular folks” feel like celebrities by asking to pose for photographs with delegates and requesting their autographs
Their attempt to make everyone feel welcome succeeded through performance. This selfie-taking skits prompted a lot of conversation at the start of the event and set the tone for the rest of the day. We, as the CTV/Culture Days Student Reporters, were able to experience the making of a Culture Days video titled “What’s Your Story?” directed by Culture Days’ Communications Manager & Content Producer, Elvira Trugila, working with her camera man, Tom Gunia.
Each person took a turn speaking in front of the camera and holding up a sign that said “What’s Your Story?”; many delegates from different cultures participated in the video. It was a fun and educational experience for Student Reporters to be part of a professional artistic video.
During the break between events, the Student Reporters and Congress delegates enjoyed a unique performance by a contemporary dance group which took the hallways of the Citadel Theatre by storm. They presented a series of short dance sequences with an old fashioned record player as their musical source. The women flowed through each motion like a wave in the water, flawlessly and with grace.
The art of journalism is often overlooked as it is considered abstract. People often do not consider someone who is using words or photographs, instead of a canvas and paintbrush to connect with audiences on an emotional level, as an artist. During Congress 2015, one talented individual managed to accomplish this through her attentive and careful journalistic skills. Marci Ien conducted an interview with facilitators, community organizers and award-winning interdisciplinary visual artists Eric & Mia. They spoke about their motivation to use performance and art as tools for social action. They are also driven to create a tightly knit community through participatory performance by citizens. These cutting-edge artists were able to answer a collection of focused questions about their emerging art, and struggles as artists. Here, they can be seen answering questions for Marci, while inspiring the entire auditorium.
On the topic of dance, there was more culture to absorb watching the talented Running Thunder Dancers perform a traditional Native American tribal dance at the Awards Cocktail & Dinner. The Running Thunder Dancers are an Edmonton-based First Nations dance group that promotes health and wellness through their talented routines. Wearing Jingle Dresses (also known as Regalia), dancers performed a healing dance featuring intricate, controlled footwork with poise, endurance and grace. The Running Thunder Dancers brought the entire dining room full of people to life; all eyes watched in amazement as one dancer held several hoops and executed various types of tricks and maneuvers. The dancers put an artistic twist to the start of the evening.
The delegates and the CTV/Culture Days student interns were able to enjoy a lovely Awards Dinner & Cocktail while being entertained by some of the most interesting and unique performers and artists among Canada’s cultural community. This included the Vancouver-based multi-instrumentalist Chloe Ernst performing songs from her debut album “Dedicated State”. The album grabbed the attention of the Canadian Folk Music Awards in 2008, where she won the ‘Emerging Artist of the Year Award’ sending her on tour across Canada playing at folk festivals, clubs, and coffee shops. She is building her career through a loyal fan base and getting to know them one song at a time.
Another talented performer during the Awards Cocktail & Dinner was Edmonton’s Lindsey Nagy. Renowned Canadian singer/songwriter Jully Black called Lindsey “the future of Canadian music” after hearing her play at a 2006 showcase. With fifteen years of performing under her belt, Lindsey has performed with the Red Piano Players, Gateway Big Band, Grant MacEwan Showcase Band and many other musicians. In a flourishing career, the singer/songwriter currently performs at the Red Piano and teaches voice and piano.
Award winners posing with Marci Ien
To top off an rewarding night, all these memories would not have been possible without the talented services of one particular artist and owner of Edge Photography, Paul Thurlin. His photographs did not miss one moment of the 2015 National Congress on Culture.
A final thank you to the woman who made it possible for the CTV/Culture Days Student interns to be a part of such an incredible opportunity, Culture Days’ Communications Manager & Content Producer, Elvira Truglia.