“I find all expressions of art mysterious and fascinating, I couldn’t live without being surrounded by beauty”: surprisingly, these words are not spoken by an acclaimed sculptor but by a chef – better described as cuisinier and artist - Christian Sinicropi. Born in Cannes 40 years ago, he had worked with some of the most prestigious kitchen brigades on the planet before 2001, when he joined the Palme D’Or, the only two Michelin-starred restaurant in town: set inside the Grand Hyatt Hotel Martinez, the venue is an authentic institution which has just celebrated thirty years’ activity.
Apart from its own merits, however, the Palme D’Or is also famous worldwide as being the location of an exclusive event: the gala dinner organized each year for the jury members of the Cannes Cinema Festival, which opens today with a special dining ezperience by S.Pellegrino. Since 2010, chef Sinicropi has gathered all the members of the jury around a table in the Palme d’Or, and has offered them a menu inspired by the President of the Festival jury.
The customary appointment was kept yesterday evening when the judges savoured three dishes inspired by the Coen brothers: Atmosphere. The Asparagus, Between Movement and Spiral and The Beef, the Bee, the Honey (pictured above). Fine Dining Lovers asked the chef how these exclusive dishes are conceived and how art and cuisine provide each other with reciprocal inspiration in his kitchen.
How is the creative process sparked?
It all starts from the essence of something, from an individual ingredient and its spirit: each plant, animal or artefact has one. It is up to us to keep it alive and not to spoil it with an excessive intervention on our part. One of my signature dishes is “Griffeuille “triple A” milk-fed Averyron Lamb”, a recipe using suckling lamb which perfectly exemplifies this concept because it is a type of meat I love to cook: there you can feel its soul and a something of its wild spirit, the quintessence of the dish.
“Les dents de la mer- Jaws” for Steven Spielberg in 2013
Let’s talk about the dishes dedicated to the Cannes jury: how was this idea first conceived?
As soon as I get to know the firm director’s name, I begin to study his personality or I consider the message communicated by his most celebrated film, its title or some particular image. Then I start to design the dish and its various elements; I let myself be inspired by everyday life, a colour, an ingredient, a motorcycle trip or a meeting with a great producer. The first of the series was Tim Burton in 2010: my thoughts immediately went to his fantastic and slightly gothic atmospheres, which led to the creation of “Alice”, in which the most original element is a tree of ceramic ware whose perforated twigs act as a support for edible flowers and vegetables.
"Alice" for Tim Burton in 2010
“Habemus Papam” for Nanni Moretti in 2012
So, even the serving dish becomes part of the artwork?
I have a real obsession for materials: just as I take great care with the ingredients I use in my kitchen, transforming them in such a way as to achieve a particular effect on the palate, I also like to shape clay and study the vessel that is going to contain the recipes I have created. On each occasion I work with different ceramists or with more than one at the same time. I like to visit their workshops and we combine our efforts to gradually achieve the desired result. Each serving dish must be consistent with the theme addressed and the idea of the food it contains.
“Casino” for Robert De Niro in 2011
What can you tell us about this year’s tribute?
As soon as I learned that the Coen Brothers were the Presidents of the Jury I started to study their lives and their filmography. In my dish called “Atmosphere”, I recreated the general dark humor ambiance of their films. I picked local and seasonal ingredients. In “Asparagus”, I wanted to pay tribute to the Earth, whose green color symbolizes hope and contrasts with the “black” reality often depicted in their work. The raw prawn symbolizes the ever-present themes of travel, escape and flight. The second dish is a 45 rpm vinyl record, as a reference to the musical hit “O Brother Where Art Thou”. The selected ingredient for “The beef” symbolizes America’s heartland and authenticity, their beloved world of cowboys. The bees symbolize rigor, structure and hard work, which are necessary in a life that, as one of their movie characters says, “doesn’t allow you to cheat.”
”Piano” for Jane Campion and “Intemporel” for Gilles Jacobs in 2014