An acclaimed chef, tastemaker and entrepreneur, Rōze Traore is no stranger to creation at the confluence of art and industry. For the forthcoming 2022 Guggenheim International Gala, this year’s highly sought-out engagement dedicated to the Guggenheim Museum once again made possible thanks to Dior, Traore was tapped to lend his culinary expertise to the elevated affair. For this unique assignment, Traore was also asked to look to the current exhibition—a staggering retrospective on figurative artist Alex Katz, with work spanning eight decades, aptly entitled Gathering—for inspiration regarding the menu.
“My inspirations always come from the food, fashion and art worlds,” Traore tells COOL HUNTING. “This leads to colors, patterns and seasonal ingredients that I get excited to highlight to my best knowledge as a chef.” Traore (who trained at Le Cordon Bleu and worked in the kitchen at Eleven Madison Park) brings the utmost imagination to his dishes under all circumstances.
For this particular menu, Traore began with an off-hours visit to the Guggenheim to “visualize how this event would come to life and to check out the kitchen,” he explains. “Then I did some research and really analyzed Alex Katz’s work. I’ve always said simplicity is key and speaks volumes when it comes to my dishes, so that was something I also admired with Alex’s approach. Then I wanted to highlight some seasonal favorites in regard to ingredients—making sure I kept things classic, approachable with a twist.”
Traore sees an innate connection between art and the artistry of the culinary world. The bridge between the two is how he defines the work that he does. “These are two worlds that I really connected,” he says, “because, as in cooking, we are always on that hunt for perfection and caring about minor details.” As for his artistic voice in cuisine, he says he feels it’s most aligned with “simplicity, and being rich and elevated.”
In advance of the event, Traore’s vision needed to unify the language of the institution, the artist and the fashion maison. On the day of the event, 9 November, however, he’ll need to put most of his attention toward preparation. “It will be a fun day, scanning through every part of the dishes with the team,” he says, noting that he hopes to “sneak in a moment of silence when I can.”
Although he can’t reveal the specificities of what he’s preparing, Traore does note that he’s “highlighting everything that Mother Nature has to provide by working with the best, from mother’s gem [perishable ingredients] from farmers to my friend foraging for the mushrooms.” With an artistic mind and the skills to match, Traore will create an indelible menu—served alongside masterpieces in the swirling main rotunda of an iconic museum.
Hero image of the 2019 Guggenheim International Gala courtesy of Scott Rudd