Culinaria Queries 2013: Is Food Art?

2013 Domino Foods, Inc. Culinaria Query & Lecture Series



The question has been posed since the age of the Greek philosophers: What is art, and what makes it different from the work of a technician or skilled laborer? The query may never be answered conclusively, but it is still being considered. The SoFAB Institute has entered the fray with a series of public discussions held around the country in 2013, all under the banner “Culinaria Query:  Is Food Art?”

 The first Culinaria Query on the subject “Is Food Art?” was held on April 11th at Duke University in North Carolina in partnership with the Triangle University Food Studies Group.  Read about their discussion here. The second panel was held in  Los Angeles and took place on Saturday, August 10th. Learn more about the panelists and watch the thought provoking discussion here. The New York discussion held on September 5th at the New School was the third panel in 2013, and you can see the discussion here.

The 2013 Culinaria Queries culminated in New Orleans with the annual Contemporary Issues in Food & Drink Lecture Series presented by Domino Foods, Inc. on Thursday, October 10th.  Ken Albala, Professor of History at University of the Pacific and Editor of Big City Food Biographies, a series published by AltaMira Press, will be this year’s speaker. This lecture was hosted by the The Louisiana State Museum and the Friends of the Cabildo.

The series arose in response to a recent New York Times article in which the author rejected the idea that food can be art and that chefs can be artists—the author considers them technicians who feed people, who may display the food on the plate prettily, and whose work may hold aesthetic appeal, but who nonetheless remain craftsmen, and their product, craft.  Now the resultant controversy serves as a springboard for discussion of the relationship between food and art.  The age-old questions of what qualifies as art and who qualifies as an artist are being framed in a new way and provocatively debated by panelists from various disciplines and professions.

The series is produced under the aegis of Culinaria, a scholarly monograph series published by the SoFAB Center for Food Law, Policy & Culture, in partnership with the Tulane University Law School.  Culinaria e-publishes peer-reviewed articles on law, policy, and cultural issues involving food and drink in a timely manner, absent the delays common to traditional academic journals.  Some presentations may be published as monographs in Culinaria. Critical responses to the query, “Is Food Art?”, and panelists’ contributions will form the basis of a book-length collection of essays to be edited by Liz Williams and Philip Dobard.



Me as cook

Ken Albala  is Professor of History at the University of the Pacific. He is the author or editor of 16 books on food including Eating Right in the RenaissanceFood in Early Modern EuropeCooking in Europe 1250-1650The Banquet, Beans (winner of the 2008 IACP Jane Grigson Award), and Pancake. He has also co-edited The Business of Food,Human CuisineFood and Faith and edited A Cultural History of Food: The Renaissance and The Routledge International Handbook to Food Studies. Albala was also editor of the Food Cultures Around the World series, the 4-volume Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia and is now series editor of Rowman and Littlefield Studies in Food and Gastronomy for which he has written a textbook entitled Three World Cuisines: Italian, Chinese, Mexican (winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards best foreign cuisine book in the world for 2012). He has also co-authored two cookbooks: The Lost Art of Real Cooking and The Lost Arts of Hearth and Home. Forthcoming this year are a Food History Reader, Nuts: A Global History, a small book entitled Grow Food, Cook Food, Share Food and a translation of the 16th century cookbook Livre fort excellent de cuysine. Albala is also now editing a 3 volume encyclopedia on Food Issues.


Domino Foods, Inc. is Title Sponsor of the 2013 CULINARIA Query & Lecture Series.

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