November 17, 2015

Artists And Chefs Join Forces For Make. Eat. Drink.

The menu at this year's Make. Eat. Drink. will focus on smoky flavors.

The menu at this year’s Make. Eat. Drink. will focus on smoky flavors.

Make. Eat. Drink., the annual pop-up dinner bringing together the work of artists and chefs, will return for its fourth year on Wednesday, Nov. 18. The event kicks off at 6:30 p.m. at Franklin Barbecue.

Make. Eat. Drink. is the creation of Austin ceramic artists Ryan McKerley and Keith Kreeger. Both have crafted pieces for area restaurants. As the event website explains, they developed the dinner as a means of showing how objects affect the experience of a meal and promoting further collaboration between the worlds of art and cooking.

This year, the local artists are joined by western Massachusetts-based potter Michael McCarthy in creating artistic pieces to complement the dinner. They will each contribute serving pieces that are both aesthetically pleasing and tailored to the specific dishes on hand.

The event has attracted a great deal of interest in the Austin culinary arts scene. The 42 seats available, priced at $195, sold out in under two days. In addition to enjoying the meal, diners will have a chance to purchase the pottery created for the occasion afterward.

The lineup of chefs for this year began with Franklin Barbecue’s co-owner Aaron Franklin, who in turn recruited Alexandra Manley, executive chef of Neapolitan pizzeria Bufalina, and Andrew Wiseheart, executive chef and co-owner of both Gardner and Contigo.

The three chefs collaborated on a menu based around the smoky flavors associated with a barbecue joint and the connection with ceramics, an art form that also requires heat and smoke. The dishes available include chickpea soup, freekeh salad. butternut squash agnolotti pasta, tri-tip steak and a puree of roasted seasonal vegetables. For dessert, the chefs will offer roasted pears basted in honey and butter.

As a traditional, Texas-style barbecue, Franklin Barbecue is usually closed at night. However,┬áKreeger told The Austin Chronicle he chose to hold the dinner there because both the location and and its owners’ attitude suited the philosophy behind Make. Eat. Drink.

“When you think about craft, process and a respect for materials, it’s clear that Franklin Barbecue is the perfect place to hold this event,” Kreeger said. “Aaron and Stacy [Franklin] have been amazing to work with. It’s a true collaboration on many levels.”

As in past years, a portion of the proceeds will benefit Big Medium’s mission of supporting visual art in Texas. The nonprofit organization offers gallery programs and self-guided studio tours in both East and West Austin. It also provides artists with affordable studio space and works with other arts organizations on various projects, such as periodical and digital publications.