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In & On: A Culinary Art Experience at Park Avenue Summer

June 12, 2011

Chef Kevin Lasko of Park Avenue Summer

It was one of those sweltering days in New York City.  I was walking on Park Avenue, heading to Park Avenue Summer for In & On. The event was to celebrate renown artist Janine Antoni and chef Kevin Lasko’s collaboration, which explores natural and local ingredients that are sensuous for the skin and delectable on the tongue. I dreamed of cool air, an icy beverage and the chance to get to know the people behind the project. But I couldn’t have fathomed the magical experience I was about to have.

Upon entering, I was ushered by a member of Creative Time, the event’s curator, to their bar and was asked a peculiar question not typically asked by bartenders: “Would you like to be misted?” I couldn’t have dreamed of a nicer way to cool off and rehydrate my skin. The mist was made of lemon balm, peach, may chang essential oil, hot water and black tea leaves, and as it hit my face, a cocktail was placed in my hand, created with the same exact ingredients, except that a splash of Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka had been added! I was literally sipping on the precise brew that had been sprayed on my face.

I had come off the hot city streets and found an oasis.

This experience is what Antoni and Lasko worked on tirelessly: providing guests with three distinct seasonal dishes, each accompanied by a handcrafted natural skincare treatment by Fat and the Moon, a home-spun organic skincare company based in New York. Janine addressed the crowd and shared her passion for the project:

“You should be able to take a bath in your soup. That seems a bit weird, but when you really think about it, you shouldn’t put anything on your body that you can’t put in your body.”

Hence the event’s name, In & On.

We all toasted to that. I was then seated for a salt and sugar scrub treatment on my hands, made of coconut coffee, coconut oil, brown sugar and sea salt. As the warm water rinsed away the scrub, my hands felt more soft and supple than they’ve ever felt before. At that time, a gorgeous hamachi dish, cured with the  same ingredients that were rubbed on my hands, was placed before me. The flavors bursted in my mouth. It was simply extraordinary.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Fat and the Moon’s founder, Rachel Budde, about her products that made my skin feel so good that I wanted to eat them up (and could have!). She teamed up with EATS, an urban agricultural project to source the fresh, locally grown ingredients that went into the Fat and the Moon products. Rachel also shared that she even forages in her own backyard for some of the ingredients she uses — lavender and rosemary, among others. She started up her new line as an alternative to the chemical-laden, mass-produced body-care industry, and she lovingly crafts all of her products by hand. I urge you to try them out for yourself.

For the third and final treatment, I got to kick off my heels and savor a lavender foot soak thrown together with lavender essential oil, lemon essential oil, ground mustard seed and sea salt. The talented Lasko served up a tile fish utilizing the exact ingredients my feet were resting in. The fresh lavender was cut before my eyes, falling gracefully onto its beautiful plate. I sat peacefully knowing that what I was ingesting was just as good for me as the ingredients my feet were was absorbing.

Tile Fish with Fresh Lavender

The smells, the tastes and the textures left me buzzing with such a sensory high, I walked back onto Park Ave., unfazed by the city’s heat.

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