Geor­gia on my mind

A new menu at the AGO restau­rant gains in­spo from the O’Ke­effe ret­ro­spec­tive

Richmond Hill Post - - Food - by Karolyne El­la­cott

Food and art needn’t be iso­lated concepts. One glance at a foodie’s In­sta­gram feed, and more likely than not, it’ll be lit­tered with plates that could, in a dif­fer­ent con­text, be di­rectly in­ter­preted as mod­ern art.

And at the Art Gallery of On­tario’s up­com­ing Geor­gia O’Ke­effe ret­ro­spec­tive, that idea is be­ing em­braced by the kitchen at Frank. The on-site restau­rant is de­but­ing a new menu to both co­in­cide with and play off of the ex­hibit.

THE SIM­PLE LIFE

Those un­fa­mil­iar with O’Ke­effe’s name may rec­og­nize her paint­ings of blown-up flow­ers and cow skulls, in­flu­enced by her time spent liv­ing in Santa Fe, N.M. Not only did O’Ke­effe beau­tify the can­vas, but she also trans­formed food into

ob­jets d’art on the plate. So when Renée Belle­feuille — the exec chef at the AGO — be­gan work on the new menu, she had plenty of ma­te­rial to draw from.

“For Geor­gia O’Ke­effe, I re­ally took a lot of inspiratio­n from who she was,” says Belle­feuille. “She was an avid gar­dener; she loved sim­plic­ity; she didn’t want things overly em­bel­lished.”

For­tu­nately for Belle­feuille, this man­ner of cook­ing is how she loves to cook her­self. “It’s very clean and thought­ful,” Belle­feuille says of O’Ke­effe’s ap­proach. “In Santa Fe she was at her purest.”

PLAT­ING ART

While en­gi­neer­ing the new menu, Belle­feuille started with some­thing very clas­sic New Mex­ico: the en­chi­lada. A brunch op­tion for week­end war­riors, the red chili en­chi­lada comes with Mon­terey jack and queso fresco, poblano pep­pers and black beans — a huge crop in the state. Wa­ter­cress, pick­led shal­lot petals and grilled lime fin­ish it off along with a trio of sauces: red salsa, salsa verde and crema.

O’Ke­effe’s most fer­vid fans can or­der from the prix fixe menu. A picturesqu­e flat­bread is served with Cheese Bou­tique’s own On­tario goat cheese, nas­tur­tium oil and flower petals. Hi­bis­cus dust adds an ex­tra ele­ment of tang to the dish, as do the tiny cubes of pre­served lemon. For a main, Belle­feuille set­tled on On­tario trout, giv­ing nod to how O’Ke­effe cooked in a lo­cal realm. Paired with a white bean and ar­ti­choke purée, snow peas and pick­led car­rots, the dish lets the in­gre­di­ents speak for them­selves.

“This is how I in­ter­pret O’Ke­effe’s art,” Belle­feuille says.

Geor­gia O’Ke­effe opens at the AGO on April 22. AGO mem­bers can preview the new Frank menu start­ing April 19.

Frank’s new of­fer­ings in­clude On­tario trout

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