12 August, 2015 – by Martje Weusten &samhoud places
Recently, chef Moshik Roth of restaurant &samhoud places (2 Michelin stars) created an exclusive Van Gogh menu honoring Van Gogh’s 125th year of death. The menu is an ode to color. This will come as no surprise since Van Gogh is our national, and international, master of color. But how do the characteristic color scheme of Van Gogh and the gastronomic perception of Moshik exactly meet?
What do Van Gogh and Moshik have in common?
Where Van Gogh uses color as a means of expression and to evoke emotions, Moshik uses his dishes to achieve precisely the same. Moreover, color influences the way you experience taste. Therefore, Moshik created a menu in which Van Gogh’s characteristic color scheme is the base. In this menu color contributes in an essential way to the complete experience. Colors are translated into flavors, flavors are translated into dishes and dishes are translated into an exclusive, gastronomic menu full of experience. “Color expresses something in itself” is a famous saying from Van Gogh that Moshik fully agrees with.
The Van Gogh menu exists of 5 courses with ingredients such as: Truffle, Anna Gold Caviar, Young Mackerel, Oosterschelde Lobster and Anjou Grape. Moshik combines the dark color of truffle with the soft and light color of potato. This dish stands for Van Gogh’s ‘dark period’. During this period, Van Gogh mostly used subtle earth and ‘muddy’ (dark) tones. Van Gogh in that time was really focused on displaying ‘life as such’ (without making her any more beautiful) and longed for the peace of the country side.
In contrast with his earlier work, Van Gogh started using the power of complementary colors later on. He was primarily interested in the Color Theory of Charles Blanc. Blanc described his theory as ‘the law of complementary colors’. In the handbook Grammaire des arts du dessin, architecture, sculpture, peinture (1870), he states that opposing colors in the color wheel (blue-orange, purple-yellow and red-green) intensify one other if they are placed next to each other. These colors are called complementary colors. So to put it more simply, using a primary color (blue) and a mixture of two other primary colors (yellow and red), will magnify the color effect. Moshik applied this very same principle in his menu: he uses ingredients in line with the Color Theory by choosing contrasting color elements for his dishes. Some plates for example, are marked by ‘a touch of paint’ (in the correct opposing color of course).
Moshik makes the Color Theory explicit by referring to paintings of Van Gogh as well. Van Gogh famous work ‘De Zonnebloemen’ (‘The sunflowers’) is an important source of inspiration for the menu. This painting consists of no less than 52 colors of yellow. Moshik transformed ‘De Zonnebloemen’ into a dish that mainly consists of orange and yellow with, of course, a hint of the opposing color purple: Anjou Grape, Mandarin, Corn, Saffron Sabayon and Jus Fenugreek.
To give the entire menu an edgy touch, Moshik also added some props to the menu. Every guest receives several special objects to complete their ‘arty’ and gastronomical experience. Think of a color diagram, a box with colored wool (which Van Gogh used to match colors) and a colorful placemat for example. And of course, the service staff will share the most interesting details of Van Gogh’s life story.
Moshik tried to show that the world of art and gastronomy get along pretty well. In the end it is all about expression and evoking emotions, whether you show that by a painting or with a dish.