Note: Un Artiste à la Table no longer exists.
Guests getting to know each other before dinner at Un Artiste à la Table.
After having lived in various places around the world, most recently Thailand, Ana Diaz-Cano, a native of a small town near Madrid, has now settled in Paris with her husband and baby. Having given up globetrotting, she has decided to invite the world to her home instead. Every week, she and two partners, Rosario Echecopar
Left to right: Ana Diaz-Cano, Rosario Echecopar and Kristi McIntosh of Un Artiste à la Table.
and Kristi McIntosh, stage a dinner/art event in her Paris apartment for a group of 12 strangers.
Diaz-Cano, who has left her career in marketing for multinational companies, is a budding journalist and discovered the concept of private supper clubs when she wrote an article about Hidden Kitchen in Paris for a Spanish magazine. Intrigued, she decided to start her own, but she wanted a hook to make it more than just a meal or a social event. “Paris is all about art and gastronomy,” she says, “so we thought we would put them together.” The result is Un Artiste a la Table, a social and networking event, gourmet dinner and artistic experience rolled into one. The idea is that an invited artist “performs” after dinner, creating something on the spot and giving each guest a small gift to take home.
The guest artist a couple of weeks ago was American painter Barbara Januszkiewicz, who will soon be going on tour in France with jazz musicians Dave Liebman and Jean-Marie Machado as the Jazz Vision Trio. While they play, Januszkiewicz will paint, inspired by their music.
Diaz-Cano has structured the evenings carefully. As soon as guests arrive in her typical Parisian apartment in the 17th arrondissement, pleasingly furnished with an eclectic group of designer and antique pieces, they are handed apéritifs and canapés – the other week there were two appetizers, both extremely tasty: one made with melon, tomato, bacon, basil and Parmesan wafers, and the other with watermelon, mint and feta cheese.
When I arrived, the getting-to-know-each-other conversation was already in full swing, animated by the bubbly Januszkiewicz and American food writer and chocolate maker Susan Tuveson, a part-time Paris resident. Other guests included a French architect and designer, a Spanish photographer and a Spanish businessman. Some were friends and acquaintances of the hostesses, while others had heard about the dinners from the website A Small World or by word of mouth.
The dinner, prepared by young Californian McIntosh, started with colorful layered discs of carrots, zucchini and beets with a ginger- and lemongrass-infused mousse. The main course of duck legs was slightly marred by their
The first course: carrots, zucchini and beets with a ginger- and lemongrass-infused mousse, garnished with arugula and mango.
toughness, but that was compensated for by the unusual potato-apple roll served with it. The cheese and dessert courses were served together on one plate: an unlikely but successful combination of Roquefort, goat cheese, mango, cherries and three different types of chocolate truffles made by Tuveson, who explained how chocolate can change your life while we ate her intense truffles.
Like a chef in a grand restaurant, McIntosh comes out to explain each course and its accompanying wine, looking far more attractive than most French chefs in her little black cocktail dress – it was hard to believe she had been slaving away in the kitchen.
After dinner, we repaired to the living room, where Januszkiewicz got out her paper, watercolors and brushes, put on a CD of Liebman and Machado playing their sultry jazz, and proceeded to create a number of small paintings while talking about creativity and her career as an artist and filmmaker in the Washington, D.C. area. By the time she had finished and wrapped up a painting for each guest, it was past midnight and time to run for the last Métro. In a flurry of good-byes, business cards were exchanged and promises made to stay in touch.
Upcoming invited artists will include filmmaker Abdulla-Alkaabi, who has just produced and directed a short-film called The Philosopher, starring Jean Reno and Cyrille Thouvenin, on June 16, and Nicolas Laugero Laserre, director of the Espace Pierre Cardin in Paris and president of Artistik Rezo on June 23.
English is usually the common language at the dinners, but with people of so many nationalities on hand, someone is almost always available to interpret if necessary. The suggested donation is €70 per person.
Reader Patricia Mason writes: An evening at Un Artiste a la Table is experiencing Paris on an intimate level. There is art for your palette and flavors of creativity for the mind. Ana and Rosario, the beautiful hostesses, emit a genuine warmth while making sure your glass is full and taste buds are engaged. I have been to two dinners, and each guest was engaging and generous and patient with my questions of curiosity and interest. It truly is a secret of Paris that must be shared.”
© 2011 Paris UpdateFavorite