A new menu at the AGO’s restaurant inspired by their O’Keeffe retrospective


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Frank’s new offerings include Ontario trout

Food and art needn’t be isolated concepts. One glance at a foodie’s Instagram feed, and more likely than not, it’ll be littered with plates that could, in a different context, be directly interpreted as modern art.

And at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s upcoming Georgia O’Keeffe retrospective, that idea is being embraced by the kitchen at Frank. The on-site restaurant is debuting a new menu to both coincide with and play off of the exhibit. 

The simple life
Those unfamiliar with O’Keeffe’s name may recognize her paintings of blown-up flowers and cow skulls, influenced by her time spent living in Santa Fe, N.M. Not only did O’Keeffe beautify the canvas, but she also transformed food into objets d’art on the plate. So when Renée Bellefeuille — the exec chef at the AGO — began work on the new menu, she had plenty of material to draw from. 

“For Georgia O’Keeffe, I really took a lot of inspiration from who she was,” says Bellefeuille. “She was an avid gardener; she loved simplicity; she didn’t want things overly embellished.” 

Fortunately for Bellefeuille, this manner of cooking is how she loves to cook herself. “It’s very clean and thoughtful,” Bellefeuille says of O’Keeffe’s approach. “In Santa Fe she was at her purest.”

Plating art
While engineering the new menu, Bellefeuille started with something very classic New Mexico: the enchilada. A brunch option for weekend warriors, the red chili enchilada comes with Monterey jack and queso fresco, poblano peppers and black beans — a huge crop in the state. Watercress, pickled shallot petals and grilled lime finish it off along with a trio of sauces: red salsa, salsa verde and crema.

O’Keeffe’s most fervid fans can order from the prix fixe menu. A picturesque flatbread is served with Cheese Boutique’s own Ontario goat cheese, nasturtium oil and flower petals. Hibiscus dust adds an extra element of tang to the dish, as do the tiny cubes of preserved lemon. For a main, Bellefeuille settled on Ontario trout, giving nod to how O’Keeffe cooked in a local realm. Paired with a white bean and artichoke purée, snow peas and pickled carrots, the dish lets the ingredients speak for themselves. 

“This is how I interpret O’Keeffe’s art,” Bellefeuille says.

Georgia O’Keeffe opens at the AGO on April 22. AGO members can preview the new Frank menu starting April 19.

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Karolyne Ellacott is senior editor at Post City Magazines. She can oft be spotted at Toronto’s most nostalgic diners wearing glittery heels and pink faux fur. Follow all of her eclectic writing interests on Twitter @kellacott and Instagram @itismekar.

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