The Art Institute of Chicago Syncs Menus with New Exhibition

Chef de Cuisine Carolina Diaz on set at WGN-TV Chicago

One of the thrills for Bon Appétit teams working at cultural institutions is the chance to extend the museum experience with a meal, by creating menus that complement current exhibitions.

When the Art Institute of Chicago welcomed “Mirroring China’s Past: Emperors and Their Bronzes” — a special exhibition featuring a collection of distinctive bronze sculptures from the second and first millennia BC — the museum’s dining team crafted themed menus, beverages, and sweets.

Braised hake with black bean sauce

Terzo Piano’s culinary team created an impressive exhibition-inspired menu with items such as chiu chow fun gor (shrimp dumplings and peanuts), smoked duck with steamed buns, gai-lan (Chinese broccoli and oyster sauce), and a pomegranate lychee tart. They also partnered with the Easthill Tea Bar in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood to offer a simplified version of the traditional Chinese tea service, and collaborated with celebrated mixologist Adam Seger to create specialty cocktails such as an Emperor’s Elixir Martini, and the Song Dynastea, featuring Rare Tea Cellar Passion Fruit Dream Green Tea–infused vodka, umami shrubbery, and melon salsa.

Terzo Piano, Caffè Moderno, and Museum Café offered sophisticated tea service Photo Credit: Jude Goergen

To promote the special offerings, Terzo Piano Chef de Cuisine Carolina Diaz appeared on WGN-TV as the featured guest on the station’s “Lunchbreak” segment. Carolina showed how to prepare braised hake with black bean sauce, a dish featured on the special exhibition-themed menu.

The Museum Café also opened a new food station featuring DIY rice bowls. Beginning with a base of greens or rice, guests could then choose a protein (ginger chicken, fresh tuna, or five-spice tofu), and finish with a selection of sauces (satay, sweet chili, or ginger soy).

Submitted by Abigail Flores, Marketing Manager