University of Gastronomic Sciences, Pollenzo – Food, Art & Philosophy


University of Gastronomic Sciences, Pollenzo, Italy

Conference Organiser: Nicola Perullo
Lecture and Publication: Ryan Frederick Bromley, Canada & Poland


I was seconded to the Convergence Pollenzo conference by Chris Dercon, Director of Tate Modern. I had enjoyed a friendly conversation about my research with Dercon during his visit to India. Shortly after his departure he sent me an email asking if I would like to take his place in a lecture at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in a conference that was addressing the subject of food, art and philosophy. I immediately agreed. This high-level merger of food, art and philosophy was perhaps the first of its kind and I was very excited to be a part of it.

As the seat of the Slow Food Movement, the University of Gastronomic Sciences is sacred ground for most gastronomes. As such, I decided to 'rock the boat' by opening my talk by declaring that "gastronomy is not art". My logic was simple: art is art, gastronomy is gastronomy - both are very important and possess noble cultural heritages; however, sometimes, gastronomy can communicate in the language of art. I then proceeded to outline the criteria of how and when gastronomy can participate in art. As a part of the opening panel, it was a great honour to share the stage with many heroes of the gastronomic world.

The conference broke into workshops, in which I participated; later followed by a diner. The main course of the dinner was a whole lamb's brain, steamed and presented on individual plates - an attempt at creating a culinary link between philosophy and food. Unfortunately, the brain was unpalatable in such a large serving, and many a lamb's brain wobbled back to the kitchen uneaten.

The conference also included a tour of the university's famous wine cellar -  one of the finest libraries of Italian wines in the world.         



As the only representative from the contemporary art 'world' I was a initially confused by the conversations that were presented; the use of the word "art" seemed to apply to all manner of notions from antique collectables to aesthetic craft. Very often, the term "aesthetics" was used as a substitute for the term art, a convenient accommodation to tip the scales in favour of cuisine as an expression of art. In my lecture, I delineated the boundary between food and art, using the historical arguments in philosophy to provide context. While this did seem to resonate with some it didn't seem to sway the minds of the lecturers who were already invested in the idea that aesthetic=art.

After the conference, I decided to sharpen the edge of the delineating factors between cuisine and art for the published paper.

The conference was an important stepping-stone for me as I realised the need to establish a working definition for art as a starting place for the consideration of gastronomy in art. Although this exercise of defining art has spelled the demise of many an art critic, I believe that I was able to navigate my way to a workable definition for the purpose of these conversations.  

This exercise in definitions and delineations can be read in the published paper.














Talk by Ryan Bromley
Flavour Unbound: a way forward for gastronomy in art























University of Gastronomic Sciences