A Major Draw

New Monthly Pop-Ups Explore Sarasota Art Museum Exhibits Through Food

On the first Wednesday of every month, chef Kaytlin Dangaran prepares a four-course menu inspired by the museum's exhibits.

By Lauren Jackson November 17, 2023

Draped red snapper from Bistro's November pop-up honoring artist Juana Valdés.

Draped red snapper from Bistro's November pop-up honoring artist Juana Valdés.

Bistro, the restaurant at Sarasota Art Museum, has been quietly rolling out an evening series of pop-up dinners inspired by the museum’s rotating exhibits. For $130, guests are invited on an hour-long private tour, often hosted by executive director Virginia Shearer, to dive deep into the works of a featured artist before dining on chef Kaytlin Dangaran’s four-course interpretation of the art through food.

“I spend a lot of time researching: looking at the artist's mission, the materials they use, why they use them and what their story is,” Dangaran says. “It’s in reverence to the art, so I need to know the whole story before before I write my menu. And the artists are so appreciative. There are so many different aspects to modern contemporary art, and taking that time to learn is important.”

At a recent pop-up, artist Juana Valdés and her exhibit Embodied Memories, Ancestral Histories were the inspiration for the evening. Valdés’ ceramic rags were reinterpreted for one plate in which red snapper was “draped” with a crisp, cracker-like topping that had been molded like the ceramic rags upstairs. While this was a literal translation of the art, other facets of the menu were more subtle.

“For Juana, the use of color was definitely influential,” says Dangaran. “But depending on the artist, I can be influenced by textures, styles and mediums. I try to pull little pieces from the art and bring them into the food to build a cohesive story.”

Yucca frita amuse bouche at Bistro's November pop-up.

Yucca frita amuse bouche at Bistro's November pop-up.

The menu also drew from Valdés Cuban heritage. For example, an amuse bouche made from a nest of yucca frita and a guava hand pie are signature markers of Cuban food. Each course is also paired with an artfully selected wine, chosen by Bistro’s operations manager and Dangaran’s husband, John Dangaran. Between the art, the food and the wine, the evening is immersive.

Bistro’s pop-up dinners and corresponding tours, which start at 5:30 p.m., are scheduled for the first Wednesday of the month through May 2024, although there will be no pop-up dinner in the month of December. Each dinner and tour will showcase a different artist, as Sarasota Art Museum’s exhibits continuously cycle.

Bistro at Sarasota Art Museum is located at 1001 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. For more information call (941) 330-9881 or click here.

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