Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tink's House: All Pop-Ups Should Be This Creative

Tink's house is located in a small unused office building on First St.
Is it an art gallery? A pop-up restaurant? An interactive progressive dinner? Tink's House, installed near Downtown L.A. from July 31 until Aug. 16, is all of the above. The entire project was planned by chef Jon Sewitz, who started the "culinary troupe" Samacon as a young teenager and cooked at places like Wolvesmouth and Noma, and 20-year old RISD art student Kelsey Isaacs. Now he's all of 19, and ready to head off to NYU in the fall to do "something non-food related." But this summer, they didn't want to just hang out, so they created Tink's House.
The kitchen room emphasizes the textures of materials and ingredients

Each room of the former small office building has been turned into an environment representing a room of the house, with its own sensory experiences -- music, textures, lighting -- and flavors to match with each of seven or so courses. Though they don't have a Twitter account and there hasn't been much publicity, all the dinners are already booked, and there's not much chance of extending the installation since everyone has to get back to school. So why am I telling you about our fun preview dinner? Well, for one thing, there's no reason other places -- or even your own dinner party -- couldn't incorporate some of the sensory ideas to enhance the eating experience. Plus, it's just great to see the kind of creativity that comes when chefs hang out with artists and start spinning ideas.
The Den has a sand-covered floor with the feel of a beach at night. Appetizers included lamb croquettes, with crunchy breading that echoed the sand.
The dining room is covered in orange netting. Even your bare feet feel caught in the netting, making you at one with the perfectly-fried pompano fish served on fine china with pompano tartare in the middle. 
Kelsey Isaacs explains The Kitchen, with foot-massaging balls, Astroturf, live plants to garnish rice bowls, and a wall of toppings for the rice..
Rice bowls could be topped with many ingredients including seaweed, shrimp chips, onion sprouts and just-picked herbs
In the bedroom: a roasted carrot with seaweed "hair" and oyster cream was a tad suggestive

The bedroom was all pale blue sheet-covered walls, benches and table, with lots of padding and dimmish lighting. We ate with our hands to enhance the sensual aspects of eating things like carrots with a lusty oyster cream sauce and spicy andouille sausages.

Sewitz's brother serves grilled sausages and vegetables on the plastic-covered, padded, bed-like table
Sewitz's cooking was very assured, so don't be surprised to see him cooking again in-between or after he explores other areas at NYU. All the courses flowed well, and the organization of the whole operation was extremely impressive. Now I want a padded room and a sand area for beachy dinners.

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