Art and food are, of course, some of the finest things in life. While appreciated with equal zeal by lovers of both, it’s rare to see the two the way that Vancouver-based artist Ola Volo and PiDGiN’s chef Shin Suzuki have so intimately coupled them. Beginning on November 20 and running through until January, Volo and Suzuki’s collaborative dish of grilled octopus, eggplant puree, and fennel seed oil will be available at the Gastown restaurant.
To gather inspiration for the dish, Volo, who is from Kazakhstan, and Suzuki, who is from Toronto, started on the canvas before moving to the kitchen. Accompanying the menu item are five one-of-a-kind illustrations that Volo, who has also done illustrations for the likes of Lululemon and Hootsuite, created for the collaboration. A series of bird and sea characters constructed in Volo’s recognizable, intricately detailed folklore creations are hung throughout the restaurant. One particular piece, a contorted and fanciful squid-like creature, was the specific starting point for the partnership. “We started talking about a character that I hadn’t personified yet, and I mentioned I’d always wanted to do an octopus—but I was just also thinking about the kind of dishes that I like to eat,” laughs Volo.
The resulting piece is a loose but connected interpretation of the illustration. “It was only after I brought the piece in that we started talking about the dish,” says Volo. “How could we mimic the patterns, using the black and white line work, and use the plate as if it was a canvas? It’s similar to how I approach my work, as well.” Suzuki adds that “it was really a collaboration,” and that “Ola was in the kitchen for the whole thing.” Plated, the dish captures the strange and surreal elements present in Volo’s work. The purple, curled tentacles on the inky-green eggplant ignite a flurry of fairytale deep-sea monsters.
When two artists unite under a single medium, after all, they’re sure to yield some fanciful (and tasty) results.