OPENrestaurant is a collective of restaurant workers, farmers, and artists based in San Francisco who have moved the restaurant space, its architecture and codes, into an art context to explore issues of food and society.
Ryo Yenting Wang
In May of 2012, OPENrestaurant visited Fittja in Botkyrka with only a few questions: what is Fittja food? Would people be willing to let us photograph the inside of their refrigerators? And could they share recipes with us in exchange for a coffee, a conversation, a workshop on marmalade-making or foraging foods to eat from the neighborhood?
We returned in September to open the windows of the residency apartment to create the OPEN Fittja Café and Common Roof Kitchen with Potrc Studios and Kultivator. Together we created a social space in and around the apartment for the exchange of ideas by engaging with a food cycle in its entirety – five chickens came to live in front of the café; which used their eggs and local foods to feed project participants; who fed us with recipes, ideas, and suggestions; which we used to make more food and more ideas for collaboration within Fittja. And the chickens ate up the scraps – making more eggs to share.
In December, Fittja residents and others filled the apartment for a day of cooking Fittja food together, fine-tuning recipes and taking home leftovers in ceramic takeaway containers. These containers, which showed up full of Fittja food for the takeaway kitchen at Botkyrka konsthall during the exhibition Botkyrka: State of the Craft, each served an important function for the recipes we were given – keeping the garnish separate from the soup, supporting five layers of a slice of apple cake, steaming the dolmas while preventing them from getting soggy. Each recipe (Turkish and Iranian dolmas, an Appalachian stack cake, a Somalian-Swedish Lax recipe, a Chilean vegetable soup, and Sri Lankan milk tea), served a special function too. Gallery visitors sat down for a meal on a Saturday afternoon, the recipes and the food became a shared experience of taste and all that it holds – flavor, memory, longing and belonging, as well as the relationships of teaching and learning, the risks of revealing oneself to others, and the familiar feeling of comfort that comes from eating food made with care.
OPENrestaurant (Ayhan Aydin, Amanda Eicher, Valerie Imus, Jerome Waag)
FITTJA FOOD STORIES
Video, 8min, 2014
In May 2014, OPENrestaurant once again opened the kitchen of the residency apartment in a variation on the Fittja Kitchen and Café, requesting visitors to share short stories about food in the form of videos, photographs and recipes.
Fittjaservisen (2012) is a series of ceramic containers by Amanda Eicher at OPENrestaurant.
Through the residency program Residence Botkyrka, OPENrestaurant, in different formations and on various occasions visited Fittja and initiated exchanges of recipes and food traditions with those living on Krögarvägen (Tavern Street). In December they came back and introduced a ceramic dinner set inspired by the dishes that had been cooked in the residency apartment. In perfectly adapted ceramic containers dolmas, soups, apple pie, and a Somali salmon dish were served to the visitors who came streaming into the art space to offer recipes or just some conversation in exchange for one of the containers.
Thanks to Verdandi, local schools and residents who participated in OPENrestaurant’s many projects.