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A preview of the Toronto Carretilla Initiative, Luminato’s roving cooking-meets-participatory-art project

The mobile kitchen set up at the Brick Works (Image: Renée Suen)

The Toronto Carretilla Initiative is a free contemporary participatory art project that brings together for the first time the food and art programming at Luminato. The TCI will launch this weekend at the festival’s popular 1000 Tastes of Toronto event before decamping to David Pecaut Square, with late afternoon snacks and suppers being served at Berczy Park, Fort York and Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens, and on June 16 the carts will be at Evergreen Brick Works. We had the chance to get our hands dirty in a rehearsal run of the mass-cooking experience, preparing two varieties of gnocchi: a sweet version topped with poppy seeds and icing sugar, and a savoury version with grated beet, garlic and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

The TCI concept began in February when Austrian artist Rainer Prohaska, who’s presented participatory cooking performances in other cities, noticed that Toronto’s street food was limited to the abundant hot dog vendors. For his project, Prohaska set himself the task of setting up mobile cooking stations where the public could make meals together while still complying with Toronto’s exacting public health standards. During Luminato, Prohaska will take his mobile kitchen concept out into six public spaces, creating a customized, curbside cooking cart sculpture that’s both visually arresting and functional. An assortment of household objects—plywood, clamps, zip ties, straps—attached to 20 orange shopping carts will be assembled into different configurations depending on the recipe being made. The fine-tuned kitchen will be equipped with handwashing stations and waste disposal, and each cart will have a specified task and a trained supervisor.  Members of the public are encouraged to collectively prepare—and then partake in—one of nine potato-centered dishes that will be made for the communal meal. At the end of the event, Prohaska and his crew will dismantle the station, and the participants, hopefully, will be left with a “memory of the flavourful experience in the mind and on the palate.” Check out our preview run of the TCI in the slideshow below »

For the location and times of the free event, visit carretillainitiative.net or follow the Twitter hashtag #TCIFood