Since poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow first mentioned the “Queen City” in his 1854 poem “Catawba Wine,” Cincinnati has been busy trying to live up to its regal nickname. With a thriving arts scene and plenty of trendy restaurants, it seems as though they’re succeeding.
“Right now there’s a cultural renaissance of sorts occurring in Cincinnati,” says Jaime Thompson, Curator of Education at the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center (CAC).
This revolution is in part thanks to the immense success of the CAC. Offering free admission to patrons six days a week, the center certainly contributes to the city’s cultural expansion.
In addition to a wide array of contemporary art, the CAC has a booming education department. As curator, Jaime works to provide ways for everyone to get involved with the arts. The department offers programming for all ages, with activities geared toward everyone from babies to the elderly.
When brainstorming a fundraiser for the department, staff and volunteers alike decided to showcase the culinary arts—one of Cincinnati’s crowned jewels.
From this simple idea, the cookbook Cuisine, Art & Cocktails was born.
Featuring over 200 pages of unique and beautiful dishes, Cuisine, Art & Cocktails combines the work of Cincinnati’s finest chefs, mixologists and contemporary artists.
The chefs were tasked with selecting an artist recently featured at the CAC and interpreting their work into a one of a kind dish. The outcome was a culmination of recipes spanning five different categories: From the Earth, From the Sea, From the Farm, Cocktails and Desserts.
“Each chef really interpreted their artist in unexpected ways,” she says. “The cookbook has created an incredible dialogue between Cincinnati’s talented artists, something we never could have predicted.”
Gorgeous photographs and recipes grace the pages, as well as bios, exclusive interviews and examples of each artist’s creations.
“We believe that the chefs are artists as well, and wanted to allow them room to really play around and create,” says Jaime. We let them pick their artists and how they wanted to respond.”
As the news of this creative work spread throughout the city, the book grew far beyond anyone’s expectations. Originally expected to consist of roughly 50-80 pages, the book has almost quadrupled in size.
“We even had to turn away some chefs who approached us wanting to participate,” Jaime says. “We wanted to work with cutting edge chefs in downtown Cincinnati since we’re downtown as well.”
Thanks to photographer Gina Weathersby, a seamless design and many devoted volunteer docents, the final product is certainly a source of pride for Jaime and her team.
The book, on sale for $50 in the CAC store as of August 1, can also be ordered online or in some Cincinnati-area bookstores.