Local Chef and Artist Hold A Pop-up Art Infused Seven Course Tasting

Local marketing manager Rachel Starrett gives us the inside scoop on last month’s pop-up art dinner.

Fresh off his two-week staging experience at world famous Chicago-based restaurant Alinea, local chef Alex Neaton collaborated with local artist Rick Hidalgo to present an original pop-up chef tasting featuring seven courses and corresponding to the dishes, seven works of art. Neaton, of the upscale 1906 at Longwood Gardens, wrote the menu before his experience at Alinea and fleshed it out after, knowing he would be inspired with the details while at the three-star Michelin restaurant. The tasting was presented in Hockessin at Hidalgo’s recently opened RH Gallery & Studios last Friday and Saturday to twenty guests per night and sold out in a week.

Pop-Up Art Dinner - RH Gallery & Studios - Hockessin, Delaware - Social Stylate

The pop-up required the conversion of Hidalgo’s personal studio space into a kitchen for the evenings (not an easy feat) and the gallery was turned into a dining room, with two 10-top tables beside the artwork, which the guests took in before taking their seats. To render his art, Hidalgo was given only the colors included in the dish and the main ingredient.

The tasting kicked off with an amuse bouche dedicated to Neaton’s father who had recently passed. The dish was plated uniquely, an elegant swirl of ricotta was centered on an otherwise bare white plate and the meatball sat to the side in a shot glass. Heather Buckman of Wilmington, an attendee on Saturday night said, “It was a touching and intimate moment when the chef came out to explain the loss of his father and that his meatballs were his favorite. You don’t get that kind of intimate dining experience and a connection with the person preparing the food you’re about to eat in a restaurant.”

Pop-Up Art Dinner - RH Gallery & Studios - Hockessin, Delaware - Social Stylate

The courses that followed were a mash up of the best of what Neaton has learned from his mentors along the way: the first, a lemon, tarragon and butter poached lobster tail accompanied by a frisee salad and buddhapalm, sauvignon blanc gold-flecked gel cubes and topped with a tarragon and lemon puree. The second, Neaton’s wild card and to his surprise the crowd favorite, was an orange velvet carrot ginger soup adorned with a single roasted purple carrot and finished with a yellow carrot puree, smoked walnuts, a punchy red chili oil and garnished with micro carrot tops. A butternut squash caramelli came third, in beautiful thrown clay bowls by local artist Tim Austin. The dish was a nod to Neaton’s first mentor Chef Mike O’Hare, owner of Gennaro’s in Aston, PA, and was topped with a piece of butternut squash ‘paper’ he created with a slow dehydration process.

Pop-Up Art Dinner - RH Gallery & Studios - Hockessin, Delaware - Social Stylate

Fourth was a filet paired with a port cherry cream sauce, celery root puree, a bruleed leek, shallots and a black garlic and cherry puree. A pan seared duck breast came fifth atop a truffle scented soubise sauce, local trumpet mushrooms, a roasted chipollini onion, port wine foam and a crisp parsnip. A single spoon of pineapple and aloe was served as a palette cleanser, and then came dessert. A goat cheese cheesecake with an ‘everything bagel’ crust paired with a gooseberry jam and the finale: Neaton’s take on a KitKat bar — a triple stacked bar of chocolate mousse, chocolate ganashe and a chocolate feuilletine blend, adorned with a white chocolate disk and paired with orange butter sauce. The guests enjoyed seeing Hidalgo’s interpretation of each dish as the courses were served. Seven 7×7 squares hung opposite the guests and showcased Hidalgo’s artistic interpretation of each dish. Each piece was mixed media with resin and acrylic on wood panel. Eric Starrett of Chadds Ford, also a Saturday attendee said, “Sitting at a dining table in the middle of an art gallery, surrounded by white walls, bright light and art and being served incredibly creative food while enjoying an artist’s interpretation of a culinary dish was so engaging and thought provoking. And the food blew me away.”

Pop-Up Art Dinner - RH Gallery & Studios - Hockessin, Delaware - Social Stylate

Neaton and Hidalgo, both self-taught, created the event as a celebration of their decade long friendship and to honor how far they’ve have come in their respective crafts. Neaton, having come from a troubled past, started out as a dishwasher more than a decade ago and worked his way up, attributing his love of cooking with getting his life back on track. Hidalgo opened RH Gallery in the summer of 2017, and his work has been featured at The Delaware Contemporary, Chris White Gallery, and The Moving Parts Collective at The Mill Space among others. RH Gallery & Studios, a stone’s throw away from the upscale New American restaurant and Hockessin gem The House of William and Merry, hosts monthly art exhibits featuring local artists.

Neaton was incredibly grateful to his Longwood family for their support of the event. Chefs William Brown and Matthew Anderson, respectively, both of Longwood, were especially supportive, helping in the kitchen and attending the event. Also, among the guests were Kenneth Warner of Longwood, Brian Kimble of Winterthur, and Mexican eatery El Diablo co-owner Roger Andrews. Photographer David Heitur of Wilmington photographed the event.

For more information or if you would like to get on the list for tickets to the next pop-up email: artdinnerpopup@gmail.com

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Local Love: Photographer Alessandra Manzotti

Chester County Photographer Alessandra Manzotti - Social Stylate

Photo of Alessandra Manzotti taken by Karen Gowen.

Alessandra Manzotti, a freelance portrait and landscape photographer, was born and raised in Milan, Italy. At the age of 20, she traveled to the United States in search of different opportunities, living in Hawaii and California before settling into the countryside of Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter, and four dogs.

Chester County Photographer Alessandra Manzotti - Social Stylate

With intuitive and innate talent, Manzotti creates ethereal, dynamic, and intimate photographs. Her inspiration comes from childhood memories of Italy, her extensive travels, her journey through motherhood, and a perpetual sense of restlessness. “With my images I try to evoke a sense of space and motion often enhanced by rich and dramatic use of monochromatic tones,” she says. Manzotti honed her technique while studying under John Paul Caponigro and Alison Shaw and creates a look all her own. Her remarkable style of photography has a way of drawing you in and enveloping you into her view of the world.

Chester County Photographer Alessandra Manzotti - Social Stylate

Manzotti starts a new photographic adventure this February; she tells us she’ll “join BBC and Human Planet photographer Timothy Allen and 6 other photographers from Europe and South America on a 150Km photographic expedition.” They’ll be exploring and capturing images of the “remote region of the Altai Mountain of Western Mongolia following the nomadic spring migration of a family of Kazakhs eagle hunters, their prized eagles, and herd of 1,000 cattle and camels.” With temperatures dropping as low as -40 degrees, Manzotti will sleep in traditional round tents called gers. She’ll use this unique opportunity to become immersed in the life of the nomadic people of Mongolia while witnessing and photographing areas very rarely seen by outsiders.

Chester County Photographer Alessandra Manzotti - Social Stylate

Manzotti has featured her photographs in exhibits in New York City, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. On March 1, she is opening a shared gallery in the heart of Chadds Ford with a contemporary painter from Belgium, Susan Iserbyt . To experience her work, the gallery is located at the old forge in Fairville Village, 522 Kennett Pike, Chadds Ford, PA.

We’ll definitely be stopping into the gallery and we look forward to seeing what images she brings home after her Mongolian expedition!

For more information on Alessandra, visit 4dogsphotography.com for client based/commercial work and amanzottifineart.com for fine art work. ALSO, Be sure to follow her on Instagram and Facebook too!

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Giving Back: E-Racing the Blues for Mental Health

Mental Health Association In Delaware - Eracing The Blues For Mental Health - Lauren Golt - Social Stylate

The Mental Health Association in Delaware (MHA) is a nonprofit founded in 1932 with a focus on education, support, and advocacy for mental health issues. Mental Illness is a public health issue that affects one in five Americans through depression or anxiety every year. This means more than 100,000 Delawareans are affected yearly!

Since exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression, the MHA hosts an annual 5K run/walk called E-Racing the Blues for Mental Health. This October marks the event’s 15th anniversary. Members of the community participate in honor or in memory of loved ones, to support the cause, and/or to exercise for their own mental health. Last year the event raised $75,000 and, if this years goal is met, the MHA will reach a total of $1,000,000 raised from the yearly 5K.

Mental Health Association In Delaware - Eracing The Blues For Mental Health - Lauren Golt - Social Stylate

Sunday, October 29th at 8:30am come out to the Wilmington Riverfront to show your support! Your registration fee and donations all go directly to the Mental Health Association in Delaware. Not a runner? Don’t worry, you are more than welcome to walk the 5K, volunteer, or donate to the cause!

Social Stylate co-founder Lauren Golt is participates in this event every year in honor of her father, who passed away from suicide in 2011. This event and the organization is very close to our hearts and we appreciate any support you can give! (To donate to Lauren’s team, For My Pops, click here.)

 

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Local Love: Brandywine Botanicals

A career in healthcare and experience in floral design mixed with a love of the outdoors led Robin Kielkowski to create Brandywine Botanicals. Kielkowski took an aromatherapy course to learn the basics therapeutic use of essential oils. This class made her aware of the ingredients in products and that her true passion was with the fragrance of the oils. Next came a class in natural perfumery and smelling all different essential oils and ingredients. The successful combinations became Brandywine Botanicals.

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Robin told us, “My approach to natural fragrance is one of balance and moderation. While emphasizing awareness of using natural products and how our bodies absorb what they are exposed to, I understand there is no single right answer for everyone.” It seems her customers all have their own motivation to chose a natural fragrance. While some have sensitivities to synthetics, others have a lifestyle or a movement away from commercial products, and then many just love the smell and uniqueness.

In recent years the skincare and beauty industry has shifted towards natural ingredients. Brandywine Botanical fragrances “are derived from plants and have a complexity and depth that is difficult to capture in a lab. No preservatives or dyes are added. The colors come from plants: fresh greens, warm yellows, amber and rose blush.”

Their care for customers goes even further as Brandywine Botanicals offers a Create Your Own Fragrance Event. Her inspiration behind it, Robin said, “We had so much fun testing the fragrances and learning about each one that I wanted to share this experience.” Events begin with a bit of learning about the ingredients including advantages and disadvantages to natural and synthetics, fragrance strength classification, types of essences, and what makes a balanced fragrance. Next customers sample the fragrances figuring out what combinations they like best. And a custom fragrance is created!

Currently Brandywine Botanicals is based out of Kielkowski’s home studio and sold online and in a few local shops. But she believes the company will grow to have its own brick and mortar so she can have more interaction with her customers.

Below we have rounded up a list of Robin’s favorites and her thoughts on each!

Violetta
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“Violetta takes a floral and adds a pink pepper that I found. It is peppery, but softer than black pepper and has a touch of soft juniper. Some of my fragrances fall into the ‘gourmand’ category. I love vanilla, spices, fresh herbs and citrus and include them in some of my fragrances.”

Fresh Cardamom
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“Fresh Cardamom contains cardamom but this familiar spice is blended with florals, patchouli and sandalwood. It is interesting because the fragrance becomes soft and clean smelling as it evolves on your skin. It is one of my most unique fragrances.”

White Garden
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“The Brandywine Valley is full of beautiful gardens. White Garden was inspired by summer gardens in full bloom. It is full of heady, white florals like jasmine and frangipani and tamed with moss and vetiver. You just never know when an idea will pop up.”

Almost Summer
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“Almost Summer is one of my favorites and it always gets rave reviews. I wanted something simple and a little nostalgic for summer. There is nothing like citrus combined with florals. For this fragrance I added orange blossom. If you’ve ever been in an orange grove when the trees are blooming you will understand how the breeze carries their fragrance. They bloom in early spring….almost summer! A bit of sandalwood and vanilla take me back to the warmth of early summer at the beach and add a certain depth to the blend. I will wear this year round when I need a lift!”

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