MS. REBECCA SHEIR
I'm Rebecca Sheir.
MR. ROB SACHS
And I'm Rob Sachs.
And welcome back to "Metro Connection." Today, we're talking global D.C. And with its multitude of museums, the district is home to a slew of international art.
Including, of course, the Phillips Collection in northwest D.C., which touts itself as America's first museum of modern art. Now, their collection spans the globe with works by big hitters like Rothko and Renoir, O'Keeffe and Klee, Homer, Hopper, Whistler, even Picasso.
Um-hum. And next weekend, as the museum celebrates its 90th anniversary, you can see those works of art reimagined in cake.
Very apt for a birthday celebration. But in true Phillips style, these cakes aren't just being done by anyone. They've recruited local celebrity chefs like Peter Brett from Blue Duck Tavern, Warren Brown from Cake Love.
And Travis Olson of 1789 restaurant in Georgetown. I caught up with Travis a few weeks back in the restaurant's bakery. He was just starting this process and I wanted to find out, you know, how it was going.
MR. TRAVIS OLSON
I am a little intimidated to, you know, create a cake that's going to be on display in a room with a Van Gogh so I'm trying to figure out how to approach that.
So baking and art, do you see a connection between the two?
Well, absolutely, there is. Growing up, I was always an artistic kid. I loved to draw. I took a lot of art classes, but I don't know if I really had the patience to kind of follow it through to, you know, a more professional level. And I think baking and cooking, you know, you can see that every pastry chef has their own approach to things that comes through in their own artistic process. And I think we'll see that in the cakes that are on display. It'll be really interesting to see at the Phillips when all those cakes come together.
You just went to the Phillips yesterday, I understand, to sort of draw inspiration.
Can you talk about that experience?
So when I went down to the Phillips to look around, like, I knew I was going to find something or some pieces of work or even some inspiration from the building itself, but I wasn't sure what I was going to find. I had an opportunity to kind of look through one of the books that showed some of their more famous pieces and, you know, of course, a couple of them stood out to me.
One in particular was a Paul Klee painting called, "The Way to the Citadel." But trying to find a painting that was both, you know, visually and very interesting, but would be something you could make into a cake. You know, some of those paintings, you'll never get the same quality out of it. You know, I got to go sit in, for example, in the Rothko room. And I'm looking at it and I'm, like, you know, that would be a really easy one to do, but it would be really hard to do well.
You know, just to get the color quality and really kind of take the same emotions of those paintings and then make it into a cake would be very difficult. So this Paul Klee painting, you know, is very geometric paces, sort of polygons of different colors that fit together. And that might be something that I can actually create into a cake.
Just off the top of your head, what is something you might do with these geometric polygons in this painting?
The way the Paul Klee painting is set up is, it's sort of a lot of, you know, different triangles, and different shapes that he's painted in and they're all different colors. So I figure what I can do is actually make cookies that are those exact shapes and then we'll make a whole rainbow of different frostings and ice them. What'll be tricky is to get them to sort of tessellate perfectly onto the side of a cake so we can cover without any gaps and kind of hit all the sides properly.
So trying to figure out now how I'll be able to do that because, you know, you might put a cookie in the oven that's the exact right shape and then you bake it and it's going to come out, you know, a few millimeters off and then you put them all together and you're several inches off. So we may have to find out a technique for creating, you know, precisely sized cookies to fit on the sides of this cake. So that's something that will happen in the development. We'll have to experiment a little bit, which is good, we have a little lead time here.
Are you thinking multiple tiers, kind of like a wedding cake or a sheet cake?
Well, my initial idea was to do a single layer and kind of recreate the same surface of a painting, but, of course, it is a cake and you can stack. And there may be some way to, you know, increase the visual impact of it by having it go up a couple of tiers. My sister and I were actually talking about that earlier this morning, seeing if there was a way that we could actually use, you know, the height of the cake to make it a more interesting piece so...
Just FYI, Travis Olson did wind up going with the Paul Klee painting. In an e-mail, he wrote, I'm going to prepare a cork tort, a sort of cheesecake that would be found in Paul Klee's home country of Switzerland." Travis says he will decorate the cakes outside with spice cookies that mimic the shapes and colors of "The Way to the Citadel."
And if you want to find out whether Travis went with one tier or two and what the other participating pastry chefs were inspired to create, you can check out their cakes at the Phillips Collection for free on January 15 and 16. Now, for information on that, you can visit our website, metroconnection.org.
Transcripts of WAMU programs are available for personal use. Transcripts are provided "As Is" without warranties of any kind, either express or implied. WAMU does not warrant that the transcript is error-free. For all WAMU programs, the broadcast audio should be considered the authoritative version. Transcripts are owned by WAMU 88.5 FM American University Radio and are protected by laws in both the United States and international law. You may not sell or modify transcripts or reproduce, display, distribute, or otherwise use the transcript, in whole or in part, in any way for any public or commercial purpose without the express written permission of WAMU. All requests for uses beyond personal and noncommercial use should be referred to (202) 885-1200.