When raising my family in Little Rock, I very much enjoyed menu planning and shopping and cooking and plating. All these I found to be genuine satisfactions. I even had a bit of a reputation for being successful in the department of fancy entertaining and enjoyed great pleasure in working as the design and layout artist for a couple of cookbooks.
Once we moved to Manhattan and my kids became teenagers, we began creating our weekly menus together. The two of them took on more of the shopping and cleaning up chores. They’ve both
These days I live with a celebrity chef—my husband, David. At least he’s a celebrity to me. He’s our personal chef, as well. When our conversations veer from art and family and fashion, they always settle on food and choosing what we’ll enjoy for future meals. When those meal times arrive, watching David in the kitchen is like seeing the performance of a fancy dancer.
Thankfully we both adore veggies. My current favorites are David’s kale sautéed to crispy and his caramelized onions. We especially love pairing our various homegrown veggies with a bit of fish or a cheesy omelet made with eggs laid by our four fine hens.
David’s a cookie monster, and if I don’t exercise caution I can become one, too. I have a weakness for his iron skillet fried sweet potatoes and whole wheat tortilla chips. Under my influence he’s grown to appreciate the fine indulgence known as Nutella on flaky croissants.
Over the years David’s worked in a lot of kitchens and has pretty much gotten rave reviews everywhere he’s been from San Diego to northwest Arkansas to Kansas City to Joplin. Perhaps the title of celebrity chef is a bit of a stretch, unless you count his cooking stint as chef to the big brass when he was shipboard during his Navy service sailing on the high seas around the globe.
Cooking exclusively now in our home we call Paradise, David always gets five stars from me for our breakfasts in bed carried upstairs on trays and the work lunches he packs for each us and our winter dinners before the fire or now on the front porch as spring beckons us outdoors. David’s thoughtful, artful presentations add extra visual and palatable aesthetic pleasure to even his most simple preparation.
We’re approaching our first anniversary. In this year I’ve hardly handled a pot, though in our division of labor I do most of the dishwasher loading and unloading. I’m good at organizing, so I can fit in a very compact, energy conserving load.
On my own I brew an excellent pot of tea. I know my way around a microwave and can make a mean grilled cheese sand (slather on the mayo), but in my husband’s talented, capable company I really don’t need to mess with the cooktop or oven. These days I much prefer to be an extremely appreciative audience.
In recent weeks, as preparations have been underway at artCentral for Josie Mai’s solo exhibition, EAT ART: Hand-Rubbed Collages, David and I have more and more become an appreciative audience for Josie. She’s done her work to get ready for the magical life she’s living. We greatly admire her reverence for food, her terrific artistic talent and her excellent time management skills as she does the creative dance of relationship and art making while fulfilling her multi-dimensional day job as Executive Director of Spiva Center for the Arts in Joplin.
As artCentral’s celebrity chef, Josie’s passion for artful eating has brought her to us! She’s a true phenom. A woman wonder! Her EAT ART body of work on the walls of Hyde House declares: “Josie has arrived!”
Originally from Roeland Park, Kansas, in the Kansas City area, Josie earned a Bachelor’s in Art Education from the University of Kansas and a Master’s of Fine Arts from Parsons School of Design in NYC. She taught art K-12 in Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri. She was an Associate Professor of Art at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, and Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg.
In addition to teaching visual art, Josie teaches cooking lessons from her kitchen studio. At artCentral she’ll offer a workshop and a class during her EAT ART exhibition: a Collage Workshop ($15)*, Saturday, April 14th, 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon, and a Cooking Class and Meal ($40)*, Saturday, May 12th at noon. *Spaces are limited. Reserve your place early: (417)358-4404.
See Josie’s EAT ART exhibition during artCentral’s weekend gallery hours through May 20th: Friday and Saturdays, noon to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays, 1:00-5:00 p.m., or by appointment at (417) 358-4404.
Also see www.josiemai.com; Josie Mai: Studio on Facebook; and josiemaistudio on Instagram. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.