Great Chefs of Britain exhibition at The Old Coastguard, Mousehole

Food and art are never far apart and taste is as extricably linked to the eyes as it is to the tongue. From the palette knife that ‘smears’ an unappealing ode to Van Gogh across the plate to the smoky drama of Hestons’ now controversial nitrous oxide gas, the baking of bread to look like mangled body parts and Carl Warner’s stunning foodscapes, food can be art and art food.

The literal recording of the faces that create the food however, are less of a focus. Yes, our TV screens are peppered with the mugs of Jamie, Gordon, Hugh et al and Nigella’s silhouette is undoubtedly etched onto the mental canvases of her male fan-issimas, but rarely are our chefs put under the naked lightbulb of humanity. Until now.

Henrietta Graham painted Gordon Ramsay more than a decade ago, and has always been fascinated by the dynamic of kitchens and the motivations of chefs. Having painted the likes of George Lazenby and Jack Nicholson, the landscapes of Greece, Africa and Mexico, her focus has now settled on the figures driving the food renaissance in Britain and in charge of some of our most famous kitchens.

Great Chefs of Britain started in 2010 with Nathan Outlaw, the first in what she hopes will extend to a series of 37 portraits and which includes Albert Roux and son Michel Jr., Pierre Koffman and Raymond Blanc. The Old Coastguard in Mousehole, run by Charles and Edmund Inkin since 2011, will host the series of paintings until December 3 and features other local culinary heavyweights such as Paul Ainsworth and Michael Caines.

Henrietta describes her experience of the project as, “one of the most challenging and exciting I have ever attempted. I’m delighted to showcase a selection of these paintings at The Old Coastguard.”

Charles and Edmund also run the excellent Gurnard’s Head near Zennor, the Felin Fach Griffin near Brecon and The Old Coastguard, under their direction for just 12 months, has just been named Dining Pub Of The Year in Cornwall by the 2013 Good Pub Guide. Charles Inkin said, “Henrietta is a fabulous painter and we hope that the background of The Old Coastguard can do justice to her work.”

Get a closer look at the faces behind food history at The Old Coastguard until December 3, open from 9:30 every day with lunch from 12:30pm – 2:30pm and supper from 6:30pm to 9pm. For more information go to enquiries@oldcoastguardhotel.co.uk and to discover more about Henrietta and her work with our great British chefs and her forthcoming book go to her blog.

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