Illustration and design by Emily Wallace
There was a time in American food history—and beyond—when gelatin molds added a touch of minimal effort to cooking and entertaining during an era of convenience. These were artistic centerpieces on the dinner table, congealed galaxies on display studded by melon balls, marshmallows, and even peas and boiled chicken. (Aspic, ladies and gents
And now they're kitsch (and perhaps back
?). On March 4, The Durham Hotel hosts O Moldy Night
: The Art (and Consumption) of Shaped Food Traditions in the 21st Century. This "pop-up museum of molded foods" is presented through the hotel's Lobby Call series, curated by Heather Cook. The event begins at 5 p.m. with professionally-molded foods on display by The Lakewood, Escazú Chocolates, The Pig, Panciuto, Neal’s Deli, "a beloved grandmother," and more. An awards presentation follows at 6:30, along with a tasting plus other foods, (m)old-fashioned cocktails, and tunes by Night Beast.
The idea for a celebration of molded foods came from the curators, friends Kate Elia, Emily Wallace, and Kate Medley, who all work in food as members of the service industry, writers, photographers, and historians. They teamed up with Trevor Schoonmaker of the Nasher Museum of Art to plan the evening. The group shared how this idea sprung up:
"For years our friend group has tried to up the ante on each other with ridiculous birthday cakes and puns. A Jell-O mold cake with the slogan "I'm old" morphed into a Mold Fashioned (bourbon filled Jell-O ring) and then the idea for a whole evening to celebrate shaped foods. It started as a bit of a joke, including a hymn sung to "O Moldy Night." But it actually reflects our combined interests and careers in food culture and art. We're curious about the history of molded foods. We're mesmerized by their aesthetics. And, because there's Jell-O in the mix, we're in it to have a good time and to get other folks together to do the same. Lucky for us, Andrea Reusing and the Lobby Call series at the Durham Hotel was interested in doing the same."
For more information about the event and Lobby Call, visit The Durham Hotel's website