Month: May 2014

The Art of Food

Henry Hargreaves and Caitlin Levin met over several glasses of rosé and quickly recognized their shared passion for all things food, photography, travel and art. Their collaborations have spanned a decade, and they continue to push the boundaries always attempting to find a balance between beauty and the unthinkable. With food as their favored medium, they always manage to turn the mundane into works of art. Below are some of the more engrossing photos from their collection.

Their food maps documents the inconic food of countries and continents and transforms them into tasty typography.

USA Corn

Australia Shrimp


China Noodles


France Cheese and bread


India Spices


Italy Tomatoes

Africa banana and plantines


Japan Seaweed


New Zealand Kiwi fruit

New Zealand

South America Citrus

South America

UK and Ireland Biscuits

UK and Ireland

Iconic Rothko paintings recreated from rice.




Re-creating museums such as the Guggenheim, the Louvre, and the Tate Modern, Henry and Caitlin masterfully created these art galleries made from candy and gingerbread.

The Louvre Paris – Pyramid extension (Gingerbread, hard candy, licorice).
  The Louvre
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York – Frank Lloyd Wright (Icing, gingerbread, cotton candy, candy wrappers, licorice and sugar).
 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Tate Modern London – modern extensions, Herzog & de Meuron (Gingerbread, hard candy, cotton candy and bubble gum).

 Tate Modern
This chilling photo essay re-creates death row inmates’ final meals before being executed.
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A Weekend Escape to T.O.

A mere four hours drive from where I reside, Toronto always holds the promise of adventure and escape from the everyday. It’s a juggernaut of money, culture, sports and beautiful people. And for a few times a year, I make it my personal playground!

Some restaurants in Toronto far exceed their peers. Amid all if its 8,000 dinning establishments, David Chang’s Momofuku is my favourite. The Noodle Bar in particular. It’s tucked neatly next to the Shangri-La Hotel on University Ave.

Let’s talk about the food. Ah, the food. The Momofuku Ramen has shredded pork shoulder, creamy pork belly, green onions, a soft poached egg and fish cakes floating on tender noodles and submerged in the most delicious broth. The clam noodles included said clams, scallions, miso, noodles, the delicous broth as well as a heaping spoonful of chilis. If you are heat-averse, this isn’t the dish for you. The Momofuku Pork Buns are what foodie-dreams are made of. Fluffy pillows of bread enveloped around soft pork belly, stuffed with pickled cucumbers, scallions and a dollop of hoisin sauce. Upstairs is Momofuku Milk Bar which is more of a glassed-in walk-in-fridge than a bar. Still, it contains Crack Pie, a lavish object of my desire. Believe me when I say that I would shatter the glass walls to get my hands on that pie. Once you start eating this rich-sweet-salty-buttery-silky pie, you won’t be able to stop. I am for sure, addicted.

clam noodles – miso, chili, scallion
momofuku ramen – pork belly & shoulder, fish cake, egg
steamed pork buns – pork belly, hoisin, cucumbers, scallions

Crack Pie
Chocolate Malt Cake Truffles

Momofuku Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

Another gustatory obsession of mine is Chipotle Mexican Grill. The ingredients are laid out in front of you so you get to choose the perfect combo to assemble the perfect meal. Take for instance the burrito bowl. Served in a bowl (hence the name, clever, eh?) you get your choice of cilantro-lime rice, pinto or black beans, meat (braised carnitas or barbacoa, adobo-marinated and grilled chicken or steak) or guacamole, salsa and cheese or sour cream. Chipotle describes it as “a burrito in a bowl and filled with dreams.” Speaking of burrito, the Chipotle Burrito is also what dreams are made of. A flour tortilla stuffed with your choice of the above burrito-bowl ingredients. Not sure why Chipotle has not yet expanded to Ottawa. My friends and family could keep the company afloat with our healthy appetites alone. Chipotle, come to Ottawa, already!

Burrito Bowl

Chipotle Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Eating out is grand but eating-in can be just as satisfying. Especially when someone else is doing the cooking. Lucky for me, my pal’s family is always up for playing gracious hosts. One night we were served a savory dish of Kale with Balsamic Vinaigrette and Meatballs alongside a spectacular Mango-Coconut Quinoa Salad. I loved everything but went back for seconds for the salad. Dressed in sweet balsamic and lime juice, and loaded with tons of fruits and vegetables, this salad was a standout. There’s something about the kindness and thoughtfulness put into a meal that makes everything taste better. Not to get all lovey but I’m lucky and grateful to have these people in my life, if only for a few weekends a year.

Kale with Balsamic Vinaigrette and Meatballs

The real reason behind our TO escapde was to be amongst my beloved Red Sox who were in town to play the Jays. It was my first ball game of the season. I love the sights and sounds of baseball. The crack of the bat, the scent of hot dogs in the air, the cheering fans. It was cool to see Big Papi and Peddey. And the Sox won both games. Good times. Although the poor guy sitting near us who got carried out on a strecher by the medics may have had a bit too much of a good time.

Other than seeing the Red Sox win, the highlight of the trip was taking in the breathtaking Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, located adjacent to the CN Tower.

The Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is 12,500-square-metres with 5.7-million litres of marine and freshwater habitats from across the world. The website states that the aquarium has more than 13,500 exotic sea and freshwater creatures, comprising more than 450 species.

Everywhere you looked it was a fish frenzy. The most stunning part of the aquarium was the Dangerous Reef exhibit, which has a 96-metre-long moving sidewalk (the longest in North Amercia) through an acrylic tunnel deep below the 2.84-million litre Shark Lagoon, a habitat occupied by 3 to 3.7-metre-long sand tiger sharks, largetooth sawfish and green sea turtles. It felt like we were submerged in the ocean. Sick. Yes, I’m gushing but upon visiting, you’ll understand. The aquarium is a wonder all to itself. You must go. NOW!

And that with that, a fitting end to our Toronto excursion. Lots of fantastic food, kind family, the Sox, and a very cool aquarium. Thanks T Dot. Till next time!

The Extraordinarily Magnificent Life of a Master Chef

No Experience Necessary is Chef Norman Van Aken’s joyride of a memoir. In it, he spans twenty-plus years and nearly as many jobs–including the fateful job advertised in the local paper for a short-order cook: “no experience necessary.”

This book is the story of a young man wandering the country searching for his true purpose in life. It’s also a tell-all travelogue about the wild world of food services, cooking and what it really means to be a “chef.” Though most of the stories alternate between North Shore Chicago and other parts of Illinois to Key West and southern Florida, there are also stops in Hawaii, Kansas, California, Colorado, New York and all the roads a hitchhiker can take in between.

After landing on the shores of Key West, Van Aken faced hurricanes and economic downturns. From a graveyard-shift grunt at an all-night barbecue joint to a James Beard-award finalist for best restaurant in America, Van Aken put his heart, soul and natural talent, and ever-expanding experience into every venture–and helped transform the American culinary landscape along the way.

Long considered a culinary renegade and a pioneering chef, Van Aken is an American original who chopped and charred, sweated and seared his way to cooking stardom with no formal training. He is known as “the founding father of New World Cuisine,” a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors. He is also known internationally for introducing the concept of “Fusion” to the culinary world.

In the irreverent tradition of Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, and populated by a rogues’ gallery of colourful characters–including movie stars, legendary musicians, and culinary giants Julia Child, Emeril Lagasse and Charlie Trotter–No Experience Necessary offers a personal, highly entertaining under-the-tablecloth view of the high stakes world of American cuisine told with wit, insight and great affection by a natural storyteller.

No Experience Necessary: The Culinary Odyssey of Chef Norman Van Aken (Taylor Trade Publishing) is available at or

Norman Van Aken: No Experience Necessary
Norman's on Urbanspoon