Possibly one of the UK’s only ‘theatre chefs’, this month’s artist loves to use food and cooking as a way of sharing stories and provoking conversations. He’s full of exciting and tasty ideas – this year he will be inviting family carers taking part in our Around the Table project to ‘bake their biography’!
Name: Leo Burtin
Can you tell us a little bit about your own practice?
I have recently taken to calling myself a theatre chef. In a restaurant, a chef’s main job is to make delicious and nutritious food for their patrons. A TV chef will think about how good things look for the camera. As a theatre chef, I look to food as a way to share stories and provoke conversations. I create theatre performances where the audience gathers around a table rather than in the auditorium. Usually, as the story of the show unfolds, we take breaks to prepare some kind of food which we then eat together at the end of the show.
What’s been your favourite creative experience of the past 12 months?
It would have to be hosting an event entitled Breaking Bread: On Otherness which took place in May 2018 at Lancaster University. For this event, I collaborated with a theatre company called Two Destination Language. We wanted to host an event about diversity, difference and otherness. As we were planning the event with Alice, the producer at the University’s Arts Centre, she became concerned that there would be no time for lunch as part of the event…
So naturally, we decided that THE WHOLE EVENT would be lunch. The day featured talks and interventions from various artists, academics and all-round creative practitioners. I composed a 14-course meal which was cooked and served as the day’s activities unfolded. I had never cooked so many different dishes for this many people – it was absolutely nerve wrecking, but was such a rich and provocative day.
Which Suffolk Artlink projects have you worked on to date?
Around The Table – I’ve delivered a two-part workshop with chef Lola Demille on using spice mixes to create ‘Emergency Celebration Kits’ and in 2019 I am leading a workshop which will blend creative writing and bread-making to ‘bake your autobiography’.
How has working with Suffolk Artlink influenced your work?
Before working with Suffolk Artlink I had only ever led workshops for art/theatre students or other creative practitioners. I hadn’t had the opportunity to think of ways to share my practice with people who might take it on in a domestic setting. Part of my practice also exists through PhD research into how the combination of food & creativity can generate particular kinds of social interaction. While the workshops with Suffolk Artlink aren’t directly the object of my research, they are hugely inspirational and help me test my ideas ‘in the real world’.
How would you describe Suffolk Artlink in 3 words?
Inspiring everyday creativity