Unless it's dinner theater or some sort of opening night event, food isn't very often a part of live theater. It's almost unheard of when it comes to dance.
Corningworks' latest Glue Factory Project production, which premieres Wednesday at the North Side's New Hazlett Theater, aims to deliciously change all that.
The dance-theater event "Recipes Our Mothers Gave Us" will explore the parental, cultural and societal experiences that season a person's life -- in other words, the "recipes" for success, happiness, heartache and failure that have been passed down from parent to child and between friends over the generations. But theatergoers also will be treated actual recipes prepared by local chefs.
Each of the five dance performances will conclude with a complimentary "tasting event" hosted by a guest celebrity chef. In keeping with the theme of the show, many will be dishing up his or her mother's favorite recipe.
On opening night, for example, Chef Jamilka Borges of Bar Marco will make one of her favorite Puerto Rican dishes from childhood, Salted Cod Stew with Fried Plantains (recipe follows).
The Strip District restaurant for which she cooks is known for its ultra-creative, seasonal, farm-to-table cuisine. But for this event, she's going a bit simpler and closer to her roots.
"It's easy, tasty and just reminds me of my mother," she says of the dish made with bacalao, the defining ingredient in traditional Puerto Rican fish stew, "We still fight about who makes it better!"
Corningworks' innovative annual series was started in 2010 as a way to allow performers over the age of 40 to explore mature themes and subject matters.
"They provide a depth you can't get with a really beautiful 20-year-old dancer," said director/choreographer Beth Corning. "Not unlike a good aged wine or cured ham."
She said the idea to feed this season's ticket holders was hatched by board member Roger Levine, who also happens to be an instructor with the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. "Food is the great equalizer. Breaking bread is a recipe that continues to work," she said.
Other guest chefs include ICS instructor David Russo, Chef Michael Chen of Tamari, Charles "Chef Chaz" Smith of the Culinary Artists Gourmet Catering Group and Mr. Levine, who will cook with ICS student Brittany Kerr after the pay-what-you-can performance on Sunday, Jan. 19.
Through the tastings, Ms. Corning says she hopes to give theater-goers a more "European experience of the arts" whereby people gather afterwards to talk about what they've just seen, instead of pulling on their coats and rushing out to their cars.
That, and "You can have a drink with friends and enjoy some really fabulous chefs."
Tickets cost $30 ($25 for students/seniors) and can be purchased online at showclix.com/event/3789072 or by calling 1-888-718-4253. For more information on the Glue Factory Project, visit corningworks.org.
JAMILKA BORGES' SALTED COD STEW OVER FRIED PLANTAIN
This is one of Chef Jamilka Borges' favorite recipes from her childhood. It comes from her mom, who has always been a strong influence in her life and in her cooking. "I cook to feed and entertain people, just the way she does," she says. "She rarely follows a recipe, and when she cooks, we drink and talk and have so much fun when in the kitchen. I wish I could do that."
She adds the great cooks in her family are "very vague" with the instructions, so the recipe is based on a "little bit of this, and a little bit of that." Or as she notes, "That's the way I cook Puerto Rican food."
1 pound salted cod, soaked overnight
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 cup chopped onions
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons adobo seasoning
1 cup cilantro
1 green plantain, peeled
Sliced avocado for garnish
Boil cod for 30 minutes in 3 quarts of boiling water, then drain.
While cod is cooking, saute garlic and onions until soft in 2 teaspoons olive oil. Add tomatoes and stir to combine. Add adobo seasoning and salted cod, and let the mixture simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Add cilantro and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
Slice plantain into 1/4-inch-thick slices and fry for 4 minutes in just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Let cool and then smash plantain slices between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Return to frying pan and fry until the plantains are golden brown. Remove to plate and top with cod. Garnish with sliced avocado.
Serves 6 as an entree or 12 as an appetizer.
-- Chef Jamilka Borges