Monday, April 14, 2014

Say Cheese

The Art of Food
Mike Geno paints cheese -- among other foods -- which he finds attractive and appetizing. Last week we met with Mike, who studied with Richard at Tyler School of Art, at the James Beard Foundation in New York's Greenwich Village. Mike had an exhibition of paintings at the JBF House called Chef Plates: The Philadelphia Collection.
A portrait of James Beard at the JBF House.
James Beard was a cookbook author, teacher
and champion of American cuisine.

When we lived in Philly from 1966 to 1985, dining options were scarce. There was South Philly for pizza, and we loved Snockey's, an old-time seafood house where the cook make the best lobster salad on the planet. And of course, there was the Reading Terminal Market, where we shopped for produce, meats, seafood and Amish products. A trip to the Reading Terminal was never complete without a stop for Bassett's ice cream.

Nowadays, Philly is a foodie town. Mike had the idea to honor Philadelphia chefs by painting their signature dishes, which dovetailed perfectly with an opportunity to exhibit at the JBF House.

Artist Mike Geno and Richard in the Greenhouse Gallery
at the JBF House. The chefs were preparing a dinner for
that evening, when the Greenhouse Gallery would turn into
an elegant reception area.
Three of the Chef Plate paintings by Mike Geno.
On the right is "Bloody Beet Steak," a signature dish by
Josh Lawler at The Farm & Fisherman. Josh is buying
the painting for his new house.
 "Scallops & Black Pudding," a dish by Rob Marzinsky of
Fitler Dining Room.
Mike started painting food in graduate school beginning with meat and continuing to cheese. He had a big break when the New York Times took notice of his cheese paintings in a 2012 article, "Like Mona Lisa, but on a cracker." That article generated 300 emails, and dozens of important connections in the cheese world. Mike is now in the enviable position of being able to sell his work online.
 Chefs came to Mike's studio, 
and prepared and plated their dishes.
Mike worked from life to make the paintings.
Sometimes he even got to eat the food.
Above: "Eggplant Braciole" by
Rich Landau of Vedge.
 "Little Neck Clams," a dish by
Daniela D'Ambrosio & Todd Braley of 
The Pickled Heron.
Mike captures the essence of each dish with a sure, energetic brushstroke. He does one painting a day. He is also teaching painting at Tyler School of Art and continues to educate his students in the ways of color, as Richard did when he taught a color class there.
 "Duck Breast with Glazed Endive,"
by Michael Santoro of The Mildred.
"Wasabi Lobster Roll" by
Chef Zama of Zama
A view of Mike's show in the Greenhouse Gallery.
 The upstairs dining room at the JBF.
JBF provides a space for visiting chefs to prepare
multi-course dinners for guests.
 A sous-chef prepares raspberries for the
evening's dessert.
 Two visiting chefs in the kitchen.
 An illustration on the kitchen wall.
Goodness, gracious, what the heck is this?
Any guesses out there?
 Another sous-chef prepares the greens.
It was a wonderful day to catch up
with Mike, hear about his success and share
stories of  Tyler.

Although it's before lunch, and I am so hungry while 
looking at this luscious food that I could eat a horse!

You can see more of Mike's work here.

A bit of nostalgia.
RC at the Reading Terminal Market
sometime in the long-ago.

À Bientôt!


  1. Judith - in OntarioApril 14, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    I wonder if the "mystery" painting could have European Easter connections. The banner looks like a Christian symbol. The lamb is Christ as "the lamb of God," the eggs are traditional at Easter and the olives might represent the Mount of Olives. The other foods look like Easter treats in the Eastern European tradition. My apologies to the artist if I have misinterpreted the work.

  2. It's a good interpretation, Judith.

  3. Love the paintings and your writing, Carol. A class in "the ways of color" by Richard or Mike would be life changing, I'm sure!