Getty Underground Brings Edible Artistry to the Surface

Chocolate hands cradling cheesecake "rocks"

Joanne made chocolate hands cradling cheesecake rocks on a bed of brown-butter streusel crumbs (made without gluten-containing ingredients, they are intended to look like sand at the bottom of a river)

Every other year, the Getty Center in Los Angeles hosts Getty Underground, a community art program showcasing the talents of the staff, volunteers, docents, and contractors who make the museum hum. This year’s Getty Underground, its 10th, marked the 20th year since its creation.

Pastry Chef Joanne Ponvanit and chocolate mousse pots

Pastry Chef Joanne Ponvanit proudly presenting her chocolate mousse pots

The theme of this year’s Getty Underground was Human/Nature. Bon Appétit Pastry Chef Joanne Ponvanit submitted two desserts in the culinary arts category. (Other categories included two dimensional, three-dimensional, film/video, stage performance, and spoken word.)

The first entry: mini flourless chocolate mousse flowerpots with black cocoa streusel “dirt” and micro lavender mint “growing” directly out of the chocolate. The second: realistic-looking “stones” shaped like river rocks — but made out of cheesecake. Both pieces of edible art were presented on “plates” shaped like human hands, made of chocolate.

“I wanted to create edible art that captures the connection between humans and nature,” said Joanne. “The cheesecake stones best represent my style of dessert: tastefully playful with a visually surprising element.”

As a noncompetitive celebration, Getty Underground has no winners, except of course everyone who gets to experience and enjoy it — similar to the museum experience itself. However in this case, the attendees were able to consume the desserts after everyone finished admiring them!