This Ain’t Havana (2014)In Socially Engaged Projects
Queens, New York 2014
Craig Shillitto with Yoandy Rizo Fiallo and Osmany Abel García Fuentes
This project was a dinner for 300-400 participants structured around a barbecue, providing the opportunity for a casual conviviality common to a surprising range of cultures. Bringing together Queens pit and grill masters from an array of Latin American barbeque traditions, This Ain’t Havana used their small dishes as a symbolic journey throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America. The project’s cooks, often overlooked as back of house kitchen staff, stepped into the spotlight in the project, interacting with the dining participants throughout, and sharing their experience through live-fed video. A long wooden table was assembled from one end, while dismantled from the other, as new parties arrived to partake. As guests migrated through the space, the table grew and was devoured, as its disassembled parts feeding the fires of the barbeque. Through this process, themes of migration and the dispersal of culture through food were explored. Fundamentally, the project asked diners to consider the ways in which conversation and culinary practices work to transmit cultural heritage.