Food and art often intersect, and for good reason. Both practices thrive on passion and creativity; both are enriched by collaboration and daring. I’ve been thinking about the parallels between food and art a lot lately — in part because I recently spent an afternoon with the artist Ruby Jackson, but also because a few weeks ago I stopped by the Watermill Center to check out their Autumn International Brunch Series.
On our drive out to Watermill, I, my boyfriend and one of his dearest friends talked a little about what we were expecting. I’d told them what I knew: that the Watermill Center bills itself as “a laboratory for performance;” that their brunch series was made possible by a partnership with Topping Rose House; that each brunch’s menu was designed to reflect the culture of their international artists-in-residence; and that the menu of the brunch we were attending was American, and included native crab cakes, lobster macaroni and cheese scented with Darjeeling tea, garden greens and a local apple pie to finish.
It sounded to us like we were in for a morning of great food in a cool setting. And, of course, that’s exactly what awaited us — along with so much more.
Founded by Robert Wilson and completed in 2006 on the site of a former Western Union communication research facility (where — trivia alert — the first fax machine was invented), the Watermill Center appears from its driveway huge and enchanting. Neither my sense of its size or seductiveness changed upon entry.
We were immediately offered coffee, tea, and mimosas (guess which we chose), and invited to tour the center’s archive. It is not often I find myself sipping a mimosa while browsing a cavernous room full of centuries-old objets d’art (some of which had just returned from the Louvre), but trust me, it’s an experience everyone should try at least once or twice.
And so, too, is brunch at the Watermill Center.
The food — prepared by Topping Rose House’s masterful executive chef Ryan Murphy — was tremendous. My guests and I agreed the crab cakes were the best we’d ever eaten, and the selection of local wines spread across the table allowed us to pour ourselves the perfect pairings.
But with a pre-brunch presentation by the artists-in-residence, and the complete and magical sense of immersion the Watermill Center seemed naturally to provide, our brunch felt like so much more than food. It felt a lot like art, like something built to nourish more than just our bodies.
The Watermill Center’s final brunch of the year is this Sunday, November 15. It will feature their current resident artists Manuela Infante and Teatro de Chile. The menu, as always, will reflect the resident artists’ nationality. Reservations are available for a donation of $75 per person, and can be made by visiting the Watermill Center’s website here.