Atlanta restaurateur Kevin Rathbun has wowed diners with his “second mortgage” steaks and divine sides like charred cream corn with gouda. He was not only invited onto Food Network’s “Iron Chef,” but he and his brother, Chef Kent Rathbun, took down Bobby Flay.
Now the gregarious Rathbun has been truly immortalized. Christopher M., a San Diego artist known for capturing culinary scenes on canvas, spent time in Rathbun’s kitchen earlier this year. At a private event for collectors Thursday night, the artist unveiled the paintings he created from his time there.
They’ll be on exhibit through June 24 at Vinings Gallery, but at least one of the works isn’t for sale – a piece featuring chef and artist together.
“He made me look skinny!” beamed Rathbun (whom we understand has pared close to 100 pounds since the beginning of the year).
The evening with the artist began with a video juxtaposing brushes on canvas and knives on the cutting board – making clear the connection of an artist whose work is to be eaten with one whose work is to be admired. Christopher M. says he’s come to apply some rules of the kitchen to his life. A perfect sauce, for example, requires some reduction, to get rid of unnecessary elements. What if we embraced an emotional reduction, allowing petty annoyances to boil away and evaporate, leaving only the tastiest essence of life?
We nabbed the thoughtful young artist for a few morsels of insight into his delectable works.
Q: Did you enjoy your time in Chef Rathbun’s kitchen?
A: I loved every minute of it. There was definitely a period in my life when I was going through a starving artist phase. I felt like it was such a privilege to watch the artistry and the craft of what they’re doing.
Q: There are some obvious parallels between chef and artist: selecting a knife or brush, mixing a sauce or blending paints, composing ingredients in the pan or forms on the canvas. What analogies would surprise people?
A: The emotional things you go through. It sounds cheesy but sometimes a painting paints itself. Sometimes a painting runs into problems. I was asking a chef one time, does this ever happen to you? He said, ‘Oh, yes!’
Q: Do you eat while you paint?
A: I love to eat while I paint. Unfortunately it’s a habit I’m going to have to abandon (for fear of ingesting paint by accident). I’m thinking I can probably still drink while I paint. They can’t take everything from me.