First-of-its-kind collaboration between Levine Center for the Arts institutions
Food. Drink. Entertainment. Put them all together then add the Levine Center for the Arts in uptown Charlotte and you’ve got “The Amazing Taste,” a first-of-its kind collaboration between the Gantt Center, Mint Museum Uptown, and Blumenthal’s Knight Theater.
Qcitymetro spoke with Leigh Dyer, the Mint’s director of public relations, to find out what all the hoopla is about. Here’s how it went. (Editor’s Note: Qcitymetro is a media sponsor of “The Amazing Taste.)
Q. What’s so special about this event?
Dyer: Who doesn’t like the idea of a “progressive dinner” that gives you the chance to visit three cultural attractions at once? It’s a chance for both foodies and arts lovers to enjoy a truly unique combination – a menu inspired in part by current cultural offerings at the Gantt Center, Mint Museum Uptown, and Blumenthal’s Knight Theater, as well as a chance to experience the art that inspired the menu. And, importantly, it’s a new phase of collaboration at the Levine Center for the Arts – the first time since the campus opened five years ago that multiple nonprofits have collaborated on a fundraiser event. Proceeds from this dinner will be split three ways among the participating institutions, so all the participants can have the satisfaction of knowing they are helping three nonprofits at the same time they’re having fun!
Q. What’s the idea behind it?
Dyer: Two years ago, Jill Marcus at Something Classic Catering approached the Mint with the idea of hosting a multiple-course dinner fundraiser tied to a food-themed exhibition the Mint had on view at the time, and it was a sellout. Last year, the Mint repeated the concept with a floral-themed menu and art exhibition pairing. This year, with the Levine Center for the Arts approaching its fifth anniversary, it seemed logical to expand the concept to include multiple institutions. The idea has strong support from the business community, notably Bank of America, which was one of the original supporters of the Levine Center for the Arts and is now a sponsor of this event. And “progressive dinners” are a hot trend in the restaurant and foodie community right now, so Jill was interested in experimenting with that.
Q. What’s on the food menu?
Dyer: At the Gantt Center, the appetizers have a lot of spice and are inspired by African cuisine – West African Chicken Shish Kebobs, Spicy Beef Meatballs with Peanut Sauce, Yam Pancakes, and more, all inspired by their exhibition “Venturing Out of the Heart of Darkness.” At the Mint, there will be two salad choices, and the menu takes another multicultural twist in celebration of the Mint’s “Body Embellishment” exhibition – Bang Bang Beef Short Ribs and Squid Ink Fettuccini with Peppadew Pesto and Seared Scallops are the entrée choices. At the Knight Theater, the dessert course is a celebration of performing arts capped off by “edible confetti.” We’ve also got wine from Shelton Vineyards, beer from two great local microbreweries – Birdsong Brewing Company and Lenny Boy Brewing – and some custom cocktails created by the mixologist at Halcyon, Flavors from the Earth restaurant. (You can see the full menu here: https://mintmuseumold.wpengine.com/happenings/779/the-amazing-taste-a-progressive-dinner-at-levine-center-for-the-arts)
Q. What about the entertainment menu?
Dyer: As I mentioned, participants will have the chance to tour two of the headlining exhibitions at the Gantt Center and the Mint. “Venturing Out of the Heart of Darkness” at the Gantt is an examination of the impact of colonialism on black culture in America. At the Mint, “Body Embellishment” explores 21st-century forms of body augmentation including tattoos, nail art, jewelry, and body-altering fashion. And at the Knight Theater, Sean Mason, prized local jazz pianist, will perform during the entire dessert course. We also have a surprise in store when it’s time to “lead the procession” from venue to venue – some very special local musicians will be playing a part in that. FYI – here’s a little more info about Sean: www.blumenthalartsblog.org/2014/10/14/winner-finalists-named-in-loonis-mcglohon-young-jazz-artists-competition
Q. Any tickets left?
Dyer: Yes, we have some tickets left – we know how Charlotteans sometimes wait until the last minute to buy tickets to things, so we’ve put a cushion in the headcount, but anyone who’s interested should hurry before they’re gone! (And a reminder: If you’re a member of any of the participating institutions, you qualify for a discount on the ticket price!)
ABOVE IMAGE BY GEOFFREY SCOTT QUEEN: From left: Tara Spil of Blumenthal Performing Arts; Sharon Holm of the Gantt Center; Leigh Dyer of The Mint Museum