MCF: Sci-Fi CoLab
Motley Cow — Wednesday, April 5 at 6 p.m.
Illustration by Jordan Sellergren
For Mission Creek Festival 2017, Motley Cow presents a one-of-a-kind dining experience. The dinner will incorporate music, dance and a sci-fi storyline to explore philosophical questions about class struggle, the value of art and pain and the nature of humanity. The short story is being written for the event by poet Richard Siken, and is expected to evolve along with the menu until the moment it’s performed.
“I was excited by the idea of having a different theme and direction to a project instead of just having a classic seasonal meal,” Motley Cow chef/owner David Wieseneck said. “We thought we’d throw the formula into the garbage pail and try something completely new.”
Wieseneck welcomes guest chef Drew Burk, an editor at Spork Press, to the Motley Cow kitchen to help lead the culinary portion of the event.
“The audience present at the Cow will be engaging in a second-level remove with a meta-menu that itself is functioning as an edible metaphor,” Burk said in an email. “I’ll be bringing some desert with me, ingredients-wise and otherwise—the whole menu is going be local, only some of that is gonna be local to Tucson.”
The story includes a generous dose of humor and metaphor, which will be reflected in the five-course meal, without sacrificing deliciousness.
“The food will definitely look different. We’re developing the presentation and the concept of the food around the generation ship, and so classic aesthetics will be totally off,” said Wieseneck.
Burk explained that a generation ship — the setting for Siken’s story — is an interstellar craft whose passengers remain aboard for their entire lives, and never see the beginning or end points of their journey. Each course in the meal will represent an economic class on the ship.
“We’re starting with rudimentary vegetable-based foods, preserved foods, including Nepalese gundruk, kimchi, spaghetti squash and maybe bug protein,” said Wieseneck. “Towards the fourth course we’ll build up towards this meat-heavy, luxury beef element that’ll reflect the elite of the ship.”
Motley Cow manager and bartender Peter Kessler’s beverage pairings will develop with the food, probably beginning with a rough whiskey-based cocktail and beer and finishing with a high-end, perfectly-paired Bordeaux.
“Then we’ll experience a rebellion. We’ll see what happens after the rebellion,” Wieseneck said.
Dancers will help tell the story and serve the meal, under the direction of University of Iowa associate professor of dance Eloy Barragán. The music will be “interstellar starship background noise, rhythmic engine sounds, hums of indeterminate function,” Burk said.
“It’s far from being a dinner. It’s a fully incorporated dinner artistic venture, and the food is just one element of this whole gathering,” said Wieseneck.
“I think of this in terms of — not a story about robots on a spaceship, but us as passengers on a spaceship with the robots, and this is a story we’re being told about ourselves … jesters and seers trading jokes and parables for our edification and entertainment,” Burk said.
The meal will take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5. Seating is limited for this one-time-only event, so call ahead (319) 688-9177 to reserve a spot. Ticket price is expected to be between $65 and $75.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 217.