Alice Waters Helps a Museum Cater to the Tastes of Art Lovers

LOS ANGELES — As the Hammer Museum emerges from last year’s pandemic shutdown, it has assembled a lineup of big names that it hopes will draw crowds back to its campus down the street from the University of California, Los Angeles: Cézanne, Manet, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec. Waters.

Alice Waters, the restaurateur that founded it all, would be Alice. Chez PanisseBerkeley, 50 years ago. She helped to create modern California cuisine. Lulu, a new restaurant that she helped open in the Hammer courtyard, is her first association with a restaurant since Chez Panisse.

“It will bring people who wouldn’t be museumgoers to the museum,”Ann Philbin, the Hammer’s executive director, said that Ms. Waters was recruited for this project by Ann Philbin, the executive director of the Hammer. “It is about cross-pollination of audiences.”

The Hammer, which is affiliated U.C.L.A. in the hopes that expanding their audience, is the latest in an extensive line of arts institutions to collaborate with big-name chefs. Ms. Waters is the latest celebrity restaurateur (for the record, Waters hates the term, preferring the French). “restauratrice”) to lend her name to a cultural institution.

As institutions like the Hammer struggle to recover from the pandemics, these types of partnerships, once a fun fillip for patrons who spent an afternoon at a museum, or an evening at a concert venue, are now more important.

The past 20 months have demonstrated that opera, plays, and art exhibitions can be enjoyed in a living room. Fine dining, however, is not something that can be streamed. Museums are seeing the proof in the lines of people who want to eat at their fine restaurants.

“People have said to me they came because they heard about the restaurant, and when they went through the lobby of the museum, they were excited by what they saw and came back,” Gary TinterowHouston Museum of Fine Arts director, Le Jardinier, an ambitious, and innovative, and Highly acclaimedThis year’s French restaurant, a French restaurant, has a menu supervised by Alain Verzeroli. Michelin-starred chef.

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Gone are the days when museums outsourced restaurants to anodyne food corporations that would serve up bland cafeteria fare — think tuna sandwiches on white, wrapped in plastic.

Danny Meyer, a New York restaurateur opened The Modern at the Museum of Modern Art over 15 years ago. He believed high culture and fine dining could be combined under one roof.

“At best we are playing a supporting actor role,”Interview with Mr. Meyer “But we hope to be a great version of a supporting actor.”

Unspoken competition has always existed between entertainment and restaurants for discretionary consumer spending. Statisticians show that Americans enjoy eating well more than a trip at the museum, opera or theater, and they also enjoy going to concerts. According to the report, the average household spent $3526 at restaurants in 2019, a year before the pandemic. U.S. Bureau of Labor StatisticsThey spent approximately $500 more on this broad category of entertainment than they did on it.

It’s no surprise that these days, a top-rated restaurateur is the first person to call for a new museum/concert hall. Michelin is better than Rembrandt, but Rembrandt is still a fine choice.

At the recently-opened Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, one of the major draws has been Fanny’s, the ground-floor restaurant run by Bill ChaitOne of the most well-known food companies in Los Angeles. He helped create such popular restaurants as République Bestia. “It has been packed from the beginning,” said Bill Kramer, the museum’s director.

Museum restaurants were once a last-minute addition, often hidden in basements or corners. Now they have separate entrances so they can continue to operate even when the museum is closed. Mr. Meyer recalls that the Modern in New York was a pioneer in this regard. “Before that,’’ he said, “the restaurant was always viewed as an amenity for museum goers only.”

The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco was hired before the pandemic. Deuki Honga former chef at Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York and Jean-Georges, to join the Boba Guys, a popular San Francisco provider of bubble milk tea, at the new restaurant Sunday at the Museum.

“The Asian Art Museum could have chosen a cafeteria account,”Andrew Chau, one the founders of Boba Guys, said it. “They wanted to try something different. Food is culture.”

The lunch crowd doubled in size before the pandemic shutdown and is slowly returning to normal.

“We began looking for a new chef for our café as part of our multiyear transformation project in 2017,”Jay Xu is the executive director at the Asian Art Museum. “Part of that, of course, was to grow our audiences.”

Similar collaborations are underway The Philadelphia Museum of ArtThe Music Center in Los Angeles is home to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Alice Waters at Hammer drew more attention than any other artist.

Ms. Waters, who is now 77, sees Berkeley as a chance to reinvent herself and take a risk. Chez Panisse, despite all its fame, was a failure. Withering criticism2019 from Soleil H, the food critic at the San Francisco Chronicle who claimed that the Chronicle’s approach to food had become stale. “Chez Panisse has pushed the culinary conversation in this country forward, but then seems to have stood still since then,”She wrote.

Ms. Waters seems to know that her reputation is not just one way.

“I don’t want people to have these great expectations,” she said recently over a glass pot of mint tea at Lulu, which is named after the late Lulu Peyraud, a Provençal wine matriarch and cook who had been her mentor. “I want them to know they can always eat something that’s simple and seasonal and delightful.”

Ms. Ms. Monthly columnAs the section’s chef, she worked for The New York Times Food section. She has personally overseen many details, right down to deciding what kind of wood (from a buna tree) should be used for the tables scattered around Lulu’s spacious terrace.

Mr. Tanis stated they expected most of their first diners would be museumgoers. He stated that he and Waters were confident that the restaurant would appeal, given its aspirations.

“People who are coming here as a destination — and people visiting the museum and wanting to have lunch,”He said. “We are not aiming for fine dining. It’s not going to be fancy.”

His lunch menu includes a fixed price lunch menu of $45, which includes a three-course lunch menu. It starts with a fennel and radish salad, then proceeds to a stew of rock cod and Dungeness crab, and ends with an olive oil walnut cake with pomegranate. Next year, dinner service will be available.

The Hammer announced an ambitious renovation project that includes the restaurant. $180 million capital campaign2018: To expand gallery space and to build its endowment. Ms. Philbin was a frequent Chez Panisse patron and turned to Ms. Waters for guidance.

“I know you know chefs all over the country,”Ms. Philbin remembered telling her. “She came up with two names and said, ‘I’m going to reach out to them and talk to them.’ A couple of weeks later, I got an email from her saying, ‘I didn’t reach out to them yet because I have another idea: I’m thinking maybe me.’ I couldn’t believe it. I was like, are you kidding me?”

Ms. Waters had always refused to open a restaurant when asked by other museums. “It’s a question of my wanting to live a civilized life,”She said. “And that’s not on a plane flying to my restaurant in New York.”

It was different. Los Angeles is not far from Berkeley, and she has an adult daughter who lives there.

These collaborations have not always worked. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art tried to open a high-end restaurant but was unsuccessful. A Meyer restaurant at the Whitney in New York, Untitled, did not survive the pandemic, and was turned into a café.

They are also a source of hope and encouragement for institutions.

Ray Garcia, the chef at Broken Spanish, was approached by the Los Angeles Music Center to open a Walt Disney Concert Hall restaurant. “A well-known chef will bring more people to the campus,”Rachel Moore, president of the Music Center.

Mr. Garcia said the collaboration would be a boon for the center — and the restaurant.

“A high tide raises all boats,”He said. “Everyone can win from the exposure.”

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