Artists Cooking

August 2, 2021

Artists Cooking

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We asked a range of artists whether cooking is part of their artistic practice – or a break from work and art. We asked everyone to share a cookbook that shaped their style, and a recipe.

What these artists shared is thoughtful, mouthwatering and fun. Enjoy.
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For me, cooking’s a physical break, since I’m always working on a laptop.
I had to teach myself to cook, since my Mom enjoyed a lot of things, but never that. So we’ve got a bookcase full of cookbooks, even though I tend to skim across a recipe and mostly wing it.

Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace, made me a fearless improviser, especially with leftovers.

I always get asked to bring a green salad to potlucks, and I think that’s mainly because of this dressing – a stripped-down riff on Tamar Adler’s vinaigrette.

pinch of salt
2 T lemon juice – or 1 T lemon juice and 1 T red or white vinegar
maybe a blob of mustard, maybe not
1/3 c good olive oil

w many people don’t cook – how bereft they are.
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If you’ve got cooking thoughts to share, you can email
We’ll keep updating this feature.
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And if you’re looking to get started cooking – or keep learning
more – Dunedin Fine Art Center now has a kitchen and a range of Food Arts classes for grownups and for kids.

You can find the schedule here.


Nikki Devereux
Mixed Media Visual Artist

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Cooking for me is a blend of creativity, comfort, passion, love.

When I’m having a bad day, cooking always cheers me up, no matter what the recipe. When I’m having a great day, cooking is a celebration.

Cooking fits into so many emotions and spaces for me that I cannot imagine life without it. My whole family loves to cook and eat together. My husband and I fell in love cooking together! I love cooking for and with friends.
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I usually have a glass of wine in hand and music playing while I cook. I just discovered the perfect word to sum up what cooking means to me – hygge – in Danish it roughly translates as “that 
cozy feeling you get when snuggled with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate in your favorite spot on the couch or when you’ve pulled off an expertly designed dinner party with friends, and there’s a swelling of happiness fluttering in your chest.”

I have lots of cookbooks, Food & Wine magazines, and a binder in which I collect all sorts of recipes from various magazines I flip through while selecting images and textures for my mixed media art. I think my binder stuffed full of recipes is my favorite cookbook because I hand selected all of the recipes so I know it’s full of all of my favorite things. I also absolutely love The Perfect Meal, by John Baxter. It takes you on this sensuous journey of French food and reading it is as decadent and beautiful as the cuisine it explores.

I call my signature recipe “The Gravy,” and it’s what I make for large family and friend gatherings, special occasions, or when we need comfort food. It’s a bolognese that I’ve perfected over nearly two decades, and it started with trying to make the recipe directly from The Godfather Part II, where an uncle is showing Michael how to make “the gravy.” That’s where I got the name! I love that movie.

He shaves the garlic into the olive oil with a razor blade, because that’s how important this sauce is. I did that a couple times for my gravy, but realized that was just being a little too precious for me. There is still an abundance of garlic in my version, but it’s minced, not shaved! From there I’ve updated it with secrets from professional chefs, friends, and Italians who just know what to do with a sauce. It’s amazing. It cooks for 8 hours. But I have to cook that recipe for you, and if you come early enough you’ll see what goes into it. Not a recipe I publicize, it feels too personal, too close to my heart. If you’ve had my bolognese you know I love you.

I’m going to share my recipe for Chicken Pot Pie, which is another comfort food recipe that I’ve developed over the years, and one that never disappoints. I’ve never measured anything, but don’t be afraid, this one is difficult to mess up.

You can explore Nikki Devereux’s work at


Bob Devin Jones
Writer, Director, Artistic Director of The Studio@620

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Cooking is a break from art and work. Most of my very good friends like to eat – and I like cooking for them as much as I like being cooked for.

But I do an inordinate amount of it, so people don’t have as many opportunities to cook for me – so when someone does, that’s the highest gift.

I have about a dozen things that I cook, and I cook those and cook those. Cooking for me is familiar – I’m wanting to taste that dish. My mother for so long, she’d say, ‘Do you want me to make you some stuffing?’ And you know what that’s going to taste like – it’s got a certain place in your memory. You can only get the dressing my mother made, from her.

It’s amazing how many people don’t cook – how bereft they are. Cooking really puts me in touch with my mother, and my family. Eating is sublime.

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I learned how to cook from my mother, but the cookbook that I go to most often is Patti LaBelle’s LaBelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About – because soul food – you got the leavings, the scraps, and then you made it into something beautiful like gumbo, étouffée. I mostly use her book for my baking recipes – since I didn’t grow up eating Sour Cream Cinnamon Walnut Pecan Coffee Cake.

I also like to thank people with food. If it’s appropriate, I’ll bring a baked good – and it’s always appropriate.

Explore some of Bob Devin Jones’ work here


Beth Gelman
Writer and Foodlover

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My bookcase full of cookbooks

I find there is something incomparably relaxing in lining up ingredients needed for a dish, chopping, prepping, mixing, sautéing. The creative part of cooking, for me, is in combining the right dishes for a meal, repurposing leftovers – or simply reading recipes and imagining how the flavors might taste, thinking about how substituting one ingredient for another would change the dish.

I love reading recipes and have a pretty substantial collection of cookbooks.  The bookcases in my living room hold about a third of my collection and I have more books on
my bedside table and on my kindle. I also watch a lot of cooking shows and look at recipes online. The New York Times recipe app is one of my favorites.

Despite my love of cookbooks, or perhaps because of it, I would be hard-pressed to point to one which has specifically shaped my cooking style. I’ve learned from all of them.

The big treat in my house was going out for Chinese food (read Cantonese) once a week. My parents gave me a piece of saucy
beef to suck on when I was just a few months old. My body was sustained by soy formula and soy sauce well before I ever ate solid food.

– Read the Full Story Here


Allen Loyd
Stage Designer and Visual Artist

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I feel that cooking is very much part of my artistic self and work.

I don’t consult individual cookbooks very often. I just go to the internet
and look at a few versions of want I want to cook and then make it.

If I had to choose a cookbook is would be one by Julia Child or Yotam Ottolenghi.

Here’s my recipe for Shrimp Curry.  

I am on the road this summer and am cooking on a camp stove. Here’s
a picture of that!

Explore Allen Loyd’s work here



Paula Kramer

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Art is a respite from cooking!  In fact, I would like to turn my stove into a planter.

Explore Paula Kramer’s work here

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Photos by Tom Kramer


Dan Granke
Stage Director, Intimacy/Fight Director and Educator

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Chicken grilled after being marinated in an Adobo from “Nopalito” with a homemade salsa roja

It’s a break, or maybe a redirect. . . It still uses the analytical eye and envisioning of an end product – and particularly of an audience savoring the product (even if I am the audience of one).

However cooking grants me a little more of a slower and more methodical pace than my theatre methods. My approach to creating with actors is driven by allowing them to shine through – same with cooking ingredients, but ingredients aren’t as unpredictable (or magical!).

I’m not an exacting follower of recipes. . .  I tend to read a bunch and then synthesize my own. That said, my desire in my work is to understand underlying patterns, same with cooking. Which is why I love Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking.

I also tend to get really into one cuisine or dish for a while. The quarantine obsession was Tacos, one book I’ve kept coming back to on the topic of Mexican Cuisine is Nopalito by Gonzalo Guzmán

This recipe is mine, my partner calls it “the fajita chicken” to me it’s just a sort of Oregano Grilled Chicken, good for tacos or fajitas, or really anything.

Find the recipe here.

Explore Dan Granke’s work here

Susana Darwin
Screenwriter and Filmmaker

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Cooking definitely feels creative, though it “feeds” a different impulse, since preparing a meal generates something that is by its nature impermanent. Even if writing or making art doesn’t happen over the course of a day, there’s usually a chance to get creative with dinner.

We have a few cookbooks on our shelves, and recipes that turn up in the New York Times or that my wife passes on can be inspiring, but mostly I try to bring out or complement ingredients’ distinctiveness. The Silver Palate and New Basics surely deserve credit for shaping that commitment. I would like to develop more facility with spices.

photo by Amy Walsh

Salad Niçoise is a meal that invites endless variation, and it offers a change of pace in summer. Besides the pepper salami, cherry tomatoes, boiled eggs, sliced chicken, haricots verts and boiled potatoes with lemon-pepper butter, tuna salad, olives and pickled okra, the spread pictured includes a Black Bean Salad from a recipe that has been a consistent crowd pleaser for decades.

Black Bean Salad

Combine. . .
one can of organic black beans
1/2 red pepper, diced
3-4 sliced scallions
generous handful of chopped fresh parsley

Mix. . .
1T olive oil
2T key lime juice
pinch of salt
1/2 t fresh black pepper

Stir in the dressing and serve.

Explore Susana Darwin’s work here


Keith Arsenault
Lighting and Scenic Designer

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Cooking for me is my chance to withdraw from “life” that consists not only of running a theatre complex for a college but keeping up with a private design, production and consulting practice. It’s that “thing I do” that forces me to totally refocus on something other than incessant emails, phone calls and text messages. It is definitely a break from everything that spells all-encompassing work and/or art for sure.

I’m a culinary child of television. . . cook books ?  I have shelves full of them. . . read them?  use them?  hardly ever.  My introduction to “real food” was probably a reaction to a home life that was fairly bland as far as food was concerned.  My mother, a ballet teacher usually was busy at dinner time so Dad became the “short order cook” and although he was very talented, dinner time didn’t exactly bring out any creativity from him.    

So my introduction to real food probably came courtesy of PBS – yes, Julia Child,  The Frugal Gourmet, The Cookin’ Cajun. Eventually I graduated to The Food Network / Cooking Channel and Alton Brown’s Good Eats (still a personal fav), Emeril Lagasse and the original Japanese version of IRON CHEF!  I started out stuffing garlic cloves into slits in a chuck roast, stuffing herb butter or goat cheese under the skin of a chicken before roasting.  But then came BBQ and everything changed. . .

– Read the Full Story Here


Don Gialanella

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I don’t do much complex cooking anymore like I did in the past. But, here is a handwritten recipe for my Mom’s Mystery Cake. It sounds gross, but it was delicious!

Explore Don Gialanella’s work here


Margaret Murray
Curator of Public Programs at the Museum of Fine Arts

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Cooking encompasses so many things for me, but it is definitely a clean break from work and life and a mental reset.

I have a routine before I start a serious baking or cooking session – music or a podcast must be on, and I prefer that it be dark outside, making my kitchen this well-lit little bubble. Having it dark outside means I’m either cooking late into the evening or waking up early, both of which are fine by me!

Cooking is an escape, a salve, and a reminder that I can, most times, meet any challenge I set before myself.

Here’s a pic of some flowers I crystallized a while back. I’m not joking when I say that at least once a month, I find myself on the hunt for edible flowers that I can spend hours fussing over, then meticulously putting on a cake.

Right now, I’m really enjoying the Arabesque Table and any of Samin Nosrat’s recipes, but I also spend quite a bit of time (probably too much time) every day browsing virtual cooking sites: NY TIMES Cooking, Food52, Epicurious, Bon Appetit, TheKitchn and many, many smaller blogs I follow for inspiration.

I’m a big fan of the Radio Cherry Bombe podcast, so I bookmark any cookbooks or authors they interview there. And I will absolutely drop everything to read what Gabrielle Hamilton is writing. 

Although I’m not that much of a sweets person, I do love to bake. My go-to is a blood orange upside down cake, and while there are many versions of this cake out there, my absolute favorite for both nostalgia (it’s the recipe I used to make my first one) and pure deliciousness is the one by David Lebovitz, who used to be the pastry chef for Chez Panisse.

Find the recipe for Chez Panisse
Blood Orange Upside Down Cake here.

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Explore Margaret Murray’s work here


Jen Ring
Tampa Bay area arts writer

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How I learned to cook creatively during the pandemic

I love a crumb-free keyboard, so most of my cooking doesn’t overlap with my writing. But that distinction dissolved during the pandemic as home cooking columns rose in popularity.

For the first time since I started writing, I began documenting my cooking and drink-mixing adventures in publications. It seemed like a huge departure from my usual art writing, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that cooking can be a creative process as well.

Most of my week-day cooking aims to get something heart-healthy on the table as quickly as possible, but I like to shake things up on the weekend. When making a new dish, my inspirations are as varied as my interests. It’s not unusual for me to cook a meal or mix a drink inspired by a time, place, friend, family member, ingredient, kitchen tool, holiday, event or situation. The cookbooks and online recipes I work from are usually secondary to that initial inspiration.

When making Florida-inspired grouper sandwiches for the first time, I combined advice from multiple sources to make one amazing Fried Grouper Sandwich.

– Read the Full Story Here


Kathleen Reed

“A party without cake is just a meeting.”
– Julia Child

True confession. I have an enormous sweet tooth.  I cannot think of a time when I turned down a cookie, a piece of cake, or a slice of pie.  My biggest pet peeve? When a waiter brings extra forks so that others (who didn’t order a dessert) can share MY dessert. 

When I was working as a college professor, my email box was full with my law students’ questions.  Now that I am retired, my email box is still full.  But now it’s packed with emails containing links to new recipes for baked goods. I have an unconditional love for flour, butter and sugar.  My quest these days
is to explore how those ingredients can combine to make the most delectable treats.

While on this quest, I subscribe to at least one part of my dear friend Pat’s baked good theory – “Baked goods ensure one’s personal safety,” Pat says.  “The more you weigh…the harder you are to kidnap. So stay safe. . .
Eat more CAKE.”

Read the Full Story Here


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