I first met Anna Vu at MCA Zine Fair – she was selling a zine that illustrated 20 memorable dishes she’d eaten in New York (so yes, there was zero decision-making needed: I knew I had to buy a copy and add it to my library of hand-made A5 magazines). Fast forward some years later, we ended up working together at Gourmet Traveller (she was finishing up as creative director, I was freelancing as a sub-editor) and jump ahead to this week: we’re teaming up for an exhibition at New Moon in Lewisham.
It’s the first show for this new inner-west gallery. The exhibition pairs Anna’s Good Food Crap Drawing project with six of my podcasts. So her picture of a Mary’s burger is a natural match for my interview with Mary’s co-owner Jake Smyth; her illustration of a Brian bottle is an obvious fit for my chat with Mike Bennie, who is one of the label’s creators (and former wine-procurer for Malcolm Turnbull, Russell Crowe and A Tribe Called Quest). Those two episodes will be featured in a park set-up, with crates and bagged wines – a perfect backdrop for those two pro-booze cheerleaders.
The show has been cleverly devised by Kim Siew, who asked me to be part of the For The Face exhibition at Create or Die in Marrickville in 2015. (There, she also incorporated my podcasts into a food-heavy show: you sat at a dining table, and the plates were adorned with blurbs for each podcast – which you could listen to via nearby earphones.) The remaining podcasts will be featured in a similar at the New Moon Gallery: you can park yourself at a table and listen to my episodes with the following restaurateurs.
Ben Shewry, who started his career shaping margarine sculptures for hotel buffets and cooking New Zealand’s biggest nachos for drunk students. When he took over Attica, he was 27, a new dad and the restaurant was $250,000 in debt. After immense, unbelievable hardship, he turned it around (boy, does he have some stories to tell from that period). Today, Attica is ranked #20 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Analiese Gregory, who has regularly plated one of the world’s most legendary dishes – the gargouillou – at Bras in France, a restaurant that was on her bucket list. She escaped her car being blown up and experimented with mould at Mugaritz in Spain, another top international restaurant. And she’s also run a pop-up restaurant in Morocco – where everything (yes, even rubbish) needed to conveyed in and out of the city via donkeys. In Australia, she’s worked at Quay, ACME and currently, Franklin in Hobart.
Palisa Anderson, who told herself that she’d never “work in a restaurant, nevertheless a Thai restaurant” – but after some detours living in four different countries (and through other careers), she’s ended up as co-director of the many Chat Thai restaurants across Sydney and its spin-off venues (like Boon Cafe, which is one of Dan Hong’s favourite places to eat breakfast in Sydney). One of the most memorable lines in this interview is when Palisa admits that “one of my best friends was a chrysanthemum” when she was growing up.
Sarah Doyle, who originally worked three jobs just to help keep Bodega running – the first restaurant she played a part in opening. Nowadays, she is involved with Porteno, Wyno (its wine bar), Continental Deli Bar Bistro, LP’s Quality Meats, Mary’s and Stanbuli. She’s definitely come a long way from her early days as a balloon artist working at Australia’s Wonderland.
Related drawings of dishes from those aforementioned establishments will be exhibited throughout the show. The walls will also feature new work by Anna, including illustrations of Danielle Alvarez’s triangoli at Fred’s triangoli, meat galore from Luke Powell’s LP’s Quality Meats and the “Baller Bucket” that Morgan McGlone sells at Belle’s Hot Chicken.
There’ll be a vego-friendly community dinner at the opening if you want to come along to check out the show and this new space!
Opening: Wednesday July 11, 6-8pm
New Moon, Yanada Room, 22 Hudson Street, Lewisham
Gallery hours: Thursday July 12: 4-6pm. Tuesday July 17: 10-12pm. Monday July 23: 4-8pm. Tuesday July 24: 6-8pm. Wednesday July 25: 4-6pm. Thursday July 26: 6-8pm.
Illustrations courtesy of Anna Vu.