A Feast for the Senses

For its season premiere, The Philharmonia Orchestra of New York (PONY) commissioned top chefs to create dishes inspired by a pair of symphonies as a way of offering audience members an immersive, multi-sensory evening.

“Our audiences come to performances to not only hear the music, but to experience it,” said Jim Miller, PONY’s Communication Director. “It’s all part of our mission to present classical music in the most accessible way possible. Music and food are a perfect pair. Symphonies are made of different movements, taking the listener on a journey from start to finish. The perfect dish does the same—taking the taster through different flavors from the first bite to the last swallow.”

The symphonies being performed on March 29 and 30 at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater:  Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique have strong imagery and storytelling elements, according to Miller.

“From resurrection and nature, to love and obsession, the chefs had a bounty of inspiration to work with from these pieces. After listening to each symphony, the chef picked the piece they connected to the most and created a dish inspired by the symphony. The chefs sought to connect both flavors and emotions in their dishes. While emotion is often part of the creation process in the kitchen, the chef was asked to step outside of himself and invoke the emotions of the composer.”

The chefs sought to connect both flavors and emotions in their dishes.

The creations include Lomo de Cordero con Trompetas de la Muerta y Zanahorias (Roasted Lamb Loin with Black Trumpets Mushrooms and Carrots) from Chef Manuel Berganza of Andanada 141.

“As Mahler’s Symphony ‘Resurrection’ is talking about afterlife and the recapitulation of life, we are using the lamb, because it has an important meaning in Christianity,” explained Berganza.

Chef Marc Vidal of Boqueria NYC was inspired by “the deep, dark, brooding sadness of the musician’s unrequited love and the torment of his opium-induced visions” when creating Albondigas en Tinta con Calamares (Pork Meatballs, Squid Ink, Seared Baby Squid, Garlic Aioli, Picada.) 

“’The Resurrection’” got me thinking a little bit more about cooking at its most primal, said Chef Anthony Sasso of Casa Mono. “Bringing something that was so carefully raised and then killed, and bringing it back to life in our own hands.” His creation: Whole Red Prawn with Spring Vegetables.

Chef Eder Montero of Txikito offered Venison Resurrection, comprised of Local Venison, Hot Paprika, Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Baby Root Vegetables, and Pea Shoots. 

“Our starting point was an Austrian goulash as a nod to Mahler’s heritage,” he said. “The dish is finished with pea shoots, a touch of green signifying new life and providing resolution and lightness in rebirth.”

Chef Luis Estrada of Salt Creek Grille created a Tuna Carpaccio over Edamame Bean Puree and Osso Buco over Confetti Cous Cous with Onion Guiso.

To add to the multi-sensory experience, PONY commissioned filmmaker Joachim Schamberger to produce full-length films based on the symphonies to be projected in 4K resolution on giant screens during the concerts.

“We are looking to the future of classical music not only in the use of the latest technology, but also as we apply that technology to a sustainable business model,” said Miller. “Our sets are not shipped in large boxes, they’re video files being emailed. As we travel to different performance venues, we hope to continue to collaborate with local restaurants to bring music and food together.”

The partnership between the restaurants and the orchestra allows both parties to reach new audiences, noted Chris Toscano, Account Executive at Momentum Communications Group.

“Classical music fans are trying new restaurants, and restaurant-goers are being introduced to classical music in an unexpected way. Both the restaurant and the orchestra are creating a unique experience for the patron, leaving them with a sensory memory and wanting more. Even with the option of only two pieces, the chefs came up with completely unique dishes based on their own cooking styles and interpretations of the music. Introducing more composers, symphonies, and themes make the dining possibilities endless.”

For additional information on PONY and to purchase tickets, visit www.nyphilharmonia.com.