Artist arranges Facebook-inspired dining experiment

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Guests at a recent dinner party were asked to eat their words.

Patrons descended on the AIRPLANE gallery in Bushwick on May 20 for the inception of “The Egg” — an interactive gastronomical experience where participants ate a dinner prepared according to a week-long conversation on Facebook.

“It started out as, how do you manifest in your real life the things you do in the digital world,” said event organizer John Avelluto, an artist and the owner of the Owl’s Head wine bar in Bay Ridge. “A meal that interprets and incorporates a personal narrative — one that is marked digitally and then exists as a digital object — seemed like an interesting way to explore that.”

To help flesh out his artistic flight of fancy, Avelluto enlisted Owl’s Head chef Michael Kogan, who prepared a four-course dinner (complete with wine and cocktail pairings) culled from responses to a variety of egg-related questions posted on a Facebook event page.

“Think of the egg literally as well as metaphoric­ally,” posited one inquiry. “Think of its colors, its textures, its malleability, and the tastes and aromas of your memories. Write down the first five words that come to mind.”

Responses like “birth,” “cracked,” “scrambled,” “deviled,” “chemistry,” “sweet,” and “toasted” were eventually transformed into a Cajun-spiced deviled egg, a soft scramble with crispy shallots, and a quail egg with maple foam, candied bacon and toast soldiers, while an investigation into what guests found tantalizing — dark chocolate, smoke, the ocean, spiced honey — and fulfilling — steak, asparagus, mac and cheese, slow-cooked food — inspired an oyster and crème fraiche po-boy, a honey-lavender-ricotta pancake, and steak and eggs en cocotte, sided with Cabot cheddar macaroni.

“The egg was a great place for us to start because it’s literally the beginning — and it exemplifies the chronicle of life,” Avelluto explained. “It also overlaps what’s happening now on Facebook, the timeline. These different narratives and concepts line up in a really poetic way.”

Can’t quite wrap your mind around it? Avelluto assures that there will be ample opportunities to experience one of his “gastronomic experiments” first hand.

“The key is having people that are excited and will participate, otherwise we have no text,” he said. “But I can definitely imagine doing this with other chefs, and other key ingredients, in different spaces. I think going into people’s homes and doing this in a private sphere would be interesting too, having an event that’s tangible but also temporal.”

We “like” it.

To learn more about “The Egg,” visit

Updated 5:33 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Jerry from Grand Army Plaza says:
This, in itself, is fantasy. I really don't see people being excited about this in the long run. I admit that there are certainly some tasty options but the reality is, and forgive me for this: too many cooks. Not only that, but there are too many different requests. No. I don't see this working. I think these chefs have better things to be doing with their time anyway.
Now, Ms. Zorn, here is my question to you: At what point did you think that it was "okay" to go on Facebook and write an article about this? Were you sick in bed while writing this, not being able to go out and get a real story? Do you get free eggs for writing this? Shame on you Sarah.
May 29, 2012, 2:44 pm

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