Calabaza and corn soupEXPAND
Calabaza and corn soup
Courtesy of Verde at PAMM

Verde at PAMM Chef Kaytlin Brakefield Creates Exhibit-Inspired Menu

Just in time for Miami Art Week, museum-goers at the Pérez Art Museum Miami can have their art and eat it too. To honor its newest exhibition, "Sun Splashed" by Jamaican-born, Brooklyn-based artist Nari Ward, Verde has created a menu to pair with Ward's artwork. 

"I was so inspired by the mediums he uses," executive chef Kaytlin Brakefield says. "I wanted to write a menu based off of how the artwork inspires me in the kitchen. It's such a big responsibility to create something from someone else's art."

Brakefield's hope was to translate Ward's artistic vision, which embraces various media channels with the recurrent use of found objects to represent native Jamaica including ideas of migration and movement, urban space, and vernacular traditions, to something simple and tasty. In her translation, Brakefield constructed a menu that fuses traditional Jamaican ingredients, often considered “lost” ingredients, with references to installations within his exhibit. 

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"What I got from researching his work is that he uses easily found objects to create beautiful installations," she says. "For me, I translated that into the kitchen by trying to make dishes from ingredients we already had. I wanted to use everything in the kitchen, just like he repurposes things. I really took that to heart to try to create this menu basically out of nothing."

Oxtail ravioli
Oxtail ravioli
Courtesy of Verde at PAMM

The meal starts with a calabaza and corn soup with coconut milk, spiced pumpkin seeds, and squash blossom chips, poured tableside. For the main entrée, expect oxtail ravioli, made from pasta scraps, oxtail, and topped with brown butter and sage. To end the meal on a sweet and tropical note, Brakefield created a rum bread pudding with mango sauce, day-old bread, and mango found in other dishes within the kitchen.

"Because he's Jamaican, I wanted to use flavors that represented his style mixed with how I like to cook," she says. "And when using an oxtail, you use the nose to tail, so you're not wasting any part of the animal. I've also heard that the origin of ravioli was created from sailors who used a sheet of pasta to wrap leftover meals and bring it with them on the boat. And for the last course, the bread is old and then soaked to create a totally different dish. And in terms of rum, who doesn't love rum?"

Rum bread pudding
Rum bread pudding
Courtesy of Verde at PAMM

Since launching the menu, Brakefield says it's been a success. She previewed it to Ward before debuting it at the museum and says he was really happy with how it turned out too.

This is Brakefield's third artist-inspired menu for the museum since she joined the team last December.

"It's always an adventure every time I get a new artist and a new installation," she says. "For me, it's such a cool way to think about food. It's an opportunity I've never had before."

The menu will run through the end of February at Verde inside the Pérez Art Museum Miami.

Follow Clarissa Buch on Twitter.

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