"A meal is an artistic moment like any other"

Evenings at the Friche de la Belle de Mai, exhibitions at Mucem and the Vieille Charité... In Marseille, Emmanuel Perrodin is at the helm of several cultural events. As a traveling chef, his culinary performances delight the public as well as the event designers. We talk to the chef.

What inspires you to create culinary performances?
I am a historian by training, and I’ve always been passionate about art. I discovered the art of cuisine at the age of 30 and established myself in Marseille! I trained with great chefs and I became chef at the Relais 50 restaurant on the Vieux-Port, then, I decided to take the kitchen outside the walls. I wanted to mix my two passions, art and gastronomy. For me, cooking is a language. It is also what shapes us, culturally speaking. We all have the memory of taste. The trigger occurred when the Cantini Museum of Marseille contacted me, two years ago, to develop culinary creations in connection with their exhibition "The dream".

What exactly is a "culinary performance"?
It revolves around an exhibition, it is a tasting that tells a story prompted by the works that are presented. A meal is an artistic moment like any other. For the exhibition "Picasso, Imaginary Journeys" at La Vieille Charité cultural centre this spring, I designed twilight meals in the chapel. The work Still Life with Two Octopuses and Two Cuttlefish inspired me, for example, to create a dish of an octopus cooked with red cabbage and baking soda which turned it slightly blue. I added a sauce with dark red wine, a dash of ink and cassava pulp. At the end, the guest discovers that he painted while eating! These meals create a space for sharing in the museum.

Tell us a bit more about your gastronomic projects...
I collaborate with the Grandes Tables of the Friche de la Belle de Mai, the restaurant offers a framework for culinary experimentation at this centre of authentic culture in Marseille. I participate in productions, for instance the music festival Mars in Baroque, and this summer, I am taking part in rooftop soirees with street food from a traveling cart. I am also almost finished writing a book published by Epure, L’oursin, dix façons de le preparer (10 ways to prepare sea urchin) ... I love this seafood, it’s wonderful with yellow wine and caramelised celery. Art projects sometimes lure me far away from Marseille, for instance I was in Bogota recently.

"In Marseille we experience a genuine creative abundance"

What do you think of Marseille, your adopted city for the last 15 years?
It is a city that has preserved the meaning of the passage of time, with ancient markets, processions and rituals. I fought for the return of the garlic market near La Canebière. I'm delighted that it’s been a part of life here for the last three years. The city is changing. Something was born in 2013, when Marseille became European Capital of Culture. We experienced a true flurry of creativity with festivals and people who breathed new life into the cultural landscape. Marseille is at the dawn of an exciting future.

The next gourmet rendezvous of Emmanuel Perrodin in Marseille:

  • Wednesday, August 15, 2018 at 8:15 pm: Grand Banquet at Mucem, with renowned chefs Gerald Passédat and Sébastien Dugast, the theme is inspired by the "Eat with your eyes" photo exhibition.
  • Every Friday and Saturday evening until September 8, 2018: Head to the roof terrace of the Friche de la Belle de Mai where a DJ will play and Emmanuel Perrodin will be one of the chefs offering "street food" from a traveling cart.

Find out more:

Marseille in Provence