The last few weeks have been busy–with this. Emerging Terrain, a non-profit in Omaha dedicated to increasing awareness of land and food issues, sponsored a huge food festival this weekend featuring local chefs and designers collaborating on 30-minute meals in bespoke “elevation stations.” The festival was held on a freeway bridge that looks out on a set of disused grain elevators, which have been a canvas for Emerging Terrain-commissioned banners designed to attract attention from passing motorists and to raise questions about the region’s relationship to its land and its main industry.
Rudolphi|Leslie were paired up with Kevin and Karen Shinn, who co-own a brilliant bakery and restaurant called bread&cup in Lincoln. We’ve been working with them since January to design and fabricate a portable stand that can host 25 diners while giving their team opportunities to carry on a conversation about their menu, their sources, and their philosophy. This, for us, was a perfect match. bread&cup’s menu is deceptively straightforward–their motto is “simple food and drink,”–but the ingredients and preparation are thoughtful, finely crafted, and–of course–locally based. bread&cup is an unpretentious, comfortable, and practically detailed environment that gets the job done in an elegant way. We wanted their station to do the same.
The main idea was to create a set of boxes that would literally frame the conversations that Kevin and Karen had with local foodies. Our budget was, to say the least, unpretentious, and we found we were able to do it with rejected cedar boards from a local hardware store and some simply fabricated steel done by a local welder here in Ames. These all broke down to fit on a small truck, and we were able to put the thing together in an afternoon. The inside surfaces of the boards have information about the menu and instructions for folding an origami salad bowl that served as the setting for the first course. This gave Kevin and Karen a way to start the discussion, by handing diners an unfolded sheet and showing them how to get started.
The bowls were a hit, and the entire festival was a blast–lots of good food and a nice crop of mostly young designers who we bonded with over two days of assembly and demolition. Many thanks to the Shinns for letting us in on their operation and their philosophy, and special thanks to Kris and James at thinktankstudio for helping with the teardown and for dinner at Omaha’s lot2, another gem of a local dining spot. This was a fantastic weekend all around…