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Painting of an archway in a kitchen garden

Savour: Food Culture in the Age of Enlightenment

Thu Oct 17, 2019 to Jan 19, 2020All Day

Food and dining were transformed in Europe during the age of Enlightenment by profound changes that still resonate today. What many of us eat, the way food is cooked, and how we dine continues to be influenced by radical changes that occurred in France from 1650 until the French Revolution in 1789.

Savour: Food Culture in the Age of Enlightenment explores the story of this transformation with rare objects, fascinating histories, and amusing stories. We start in the kitchen gardens at Versailles where advances in horticulture expanded the growing seasons of vegetables and fruits, making a greater selection of foods available year-round. Then we visit the steamy kitchens of cooks who advocated light, flavourful cuisine centuries before our time. Next, we discover surprisingly modern philosophies for healthy eating and vegetarianism, and join ardent foodies as they savour meals served on newly invented ceramic and silver wares, from sauceboats to tureens. Along the way, we explore how social changes were impacting eating then, just as now, as the grand formality of the past was abandoned in favour of informality and intimacy.

Savour: Food Culture in the Age of Enlightenment is organized by the Gardiner Museum and curated by Meredith Chilton, C.M., Curator Emerita. Works of art and objects from major North American museums and private collections, as well as key pieces of contemporary ceramics and knitted art, will come together in a delectable feast for the senses designed by Opera Atelier’s Resident Set Designer, Gerard Gauci.

After the Gardiner Museum, the exhibition will tour to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut.

The exhibition is accompanied by a cookbook titled The King’s Peas: Delectable Recipes and their Stories from the Age of Enlightenment by Meredith Chilton, with contributions by Markus Bestig, Executive Chef, The York Club, Toronto.

Exhibition programs & events

Friends Day | Savour: Food Culture in the Age of Enlightenment
October 16, 10 am – 9 pm
Gardiner Friends are invited to join us for an exclusive preview of the exhibition before it opens to the public.

Savour at CLAY Restaurant
October 17, 2019 – January 19, 2020
Throughout the exhibition, CLAY restaurant is featuring special menu items inspired by curator Meredith Chilton’s new cookbook, The King’s Peas: Delectable Recipes and their Stories from the Age of Enlightenment.

The Enlightened Feast
October 18, 6 – 10 pm
Reflecting on the new enlightenment in the worlds of cuisine and food culture, former line cook turned journalist Ivy Knight guest curates a unique culinary experience.

European Union Film Festival Food Market
October 23, 7:30 – 10 pm
Sample European delicacies, cocktails, and wine offered by the Belgian Chocolate Shop, Le Baratin, Cucinato Studio, Croatia Meats, Chef Janos Szekely, Wines of Germany, and more.

Sunday at the Gardiner: Curator Tour and Light Fare
November 3, 9 – 11 am
This unique Sunday morning experience offers visitors a rare chance to explore the exhibition alongside its curator, Meredith Chilton, before the Museum opens to the public.

The King’s Peas Book Launch
November 4, 6:30 – 8 pm
Join us for the book launch of The King’s Peas: Delectable Recipes and their Stories from the Age of Enlightenment, written by curator Meredith Chilton with contributions by Markus Bestig, Executive Chef at The York Club.

Co-Presenting Sponsors

Tom Kierans & Mary Janigan
Noreen Taylor & David Staines

Presenting Programs Sponsor

The W. Garfield Weston Foundation

Paint Sponsor

Farrow & Ball logo

Header image: Gerard Gauci, Kitchen Garden Perspective (detail), 2019, Created for Savour: Food Culture in the Age of Enlightenment