The Tate Modern art gallery on London’s Southbank is trying to burnish its gourmet credentials. Time will tell whether or not they’ve managed that with their latest pop-up. Pure Filth which appears to be a sort of ironic name for a food offering that resembles fast food but is actually — to borrow Pret a Manger’s genius phrase — without nasties.
It is a collaboration between nutritionist Rosemary Ferguson and chef and TV presenter Gizzi Erskine. The Pure Filth pop-up will launch at Tate Modern this autumn, taking place over three weekends. To mark the series, artist Jake Chapman has created a limited edition of lunch boxes, packaging the likes of a Beetroot Bun & Black Bean Patty, with a choice of sauces including spicy tofu mayo and – for those addicted to the beet – beetroot ketchup. Also on offer will be shakshuka - red, green or black - and a raw bounty bar for dessert.
Erskine honourably said, “The taste must come first – our food just happens to be good for you, too”, before elaborating with a more down-to-earth line: “this is indulgent food, served healthily and without sacrifice.”
At a time when nutritionists are — sometimes unfairly — in the firing line, Ferguson and Erskine’s collaboration in such a high-profile public space is a statement from The Tate about food’s place in cultural institutions. With Rochelle at the ICA showcasing one approach, this is another angle altogether from the gallery. Ferguson said:
Pure Filth grew from our love of food and we believe the food you love should love you back. It’s not about compromise or cutting back. Instead, we’ve worked to create moreish recipes that actively work to nourish and sustain you. I’ve drawn on my knowledge of nutrition to design dishes that support a wide range of lifestyles. Food is integral to the way we feel, whether you have been burning the midnight oil for work or play, we want to nurture you to have energy, balance your decadent lifestyle, to improve your gut health, to prepare you for working out, to improve your mood... All states that need different nutrients and the Pure Filth menu covers every requirement.
It remains to be seen whether the concept will catch on; in the meantime, it’s another — admittedly small — shift in the way new dining concepts house themselves in an increasingly challenging city.