Food and Art Meet at Wolvesmouth's "Cut Your Teeth"

By Lesley Balla  |  August 15, 2013
Credit: Christie Hemm Klok

Most of what chef Craig Thornton, a Zagat 30 Under 30 alum, creates at his exclusive underground supper club looks like art: a swish of beet here, a dot of tomato there; the colors and textures jumping off the plate like a painting. In October, he'll express his artistic side even more at "Cut Your Teeth," a two week-long residency and collaboration with artist Matthew Bone at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Part exhibit, part interactive dining experience, this is a deeper look into Wolvesmouth and Thornton's mind...on hyper-drive.

Not only did Thornton help create imagery for the exhibit, like making light fixtures or videos about "beauty," he'll also be the exhibit. A kitchen and dining area will be set up inside the installation - a dark, forest-like wonderland that stems from a painting by Bone - so that during the day, you can watch the chef and his team prep for the two eight-course dinners they'll serve each night; at night, it will be like dinners in the Den (aka, Thornton's Downtown LA loft), where guests can interact with the chef, sip wine and dine on his latest creations.

The installation will fuse together organic, vegetal and skeletal forms, so you'll see things like animals running into and out of walls, trees, chandeliers made from teeth and wood-block tables, all which seems to spill from a painting of a woman representing Mother Nature. That painting, or at least a photo of the model, recently created some controversy when Thornton posted a short video of the making of it. Not everyone saw the beauty in a woman with dirt, flowers and twigs in her mouth; in fact, the video was removed by the network for being "offensive," and Thornton retaliated by posting an image with his own comments about being offended.

"People thought I was objectifying women, but it was exactly the opposite," he says. "I put women on the highest pedestal. She's creating the actual reality in front of you with the forest and animals and the plants. Without her, there is nothing. She’s actually the most important part of the show. She spins the entire show into existing."

Thornton, who prepares elaborately beautiful multi-course meals for Wolvesmouth, explains that he taps into all sorts of places, images and music for his menus. And that's what will come out in this exhibit: the dark, the beautiful, the aggressive, the serene and, of course, the delicious. "People, chefs pull from other places. Everything that has nothing to do with food is what inspires food," he says. "It's not just about me posting photos of dishes. There's a lot more that I'm interested in. This is where all those crazy-looking plates come from."

If you haven't been to one of his dinners yet, this is probably one not to miss. "Cut Your Teeth" runs from October 15-19 and 22-26. Tickets for the dinners are $225 per person and go on sale August 30.