by Christmas Snow
Edible works of art, indie music pouring from the sound system and the smell of charcoal in the air. This is the Starving Artist Café, RIT’s newest dining place on the first floor of James E. Booth Hall (BOO). As an artist-run venture that promises a cheap, eco-friendly dining experience for artists and others alike, the café definitely delivers.
Located in the first-floor nook affectionately known as “Vendyland,” the daring new enterprise is a combination of avant-garde thinking and classic café elements. There are no tables, no chairs. The white floors, white walls, white ceiling and harsh fluorescent lighting give the sense of a blank canvas to the newly repurposed space. However, the monochromatic color scheme is energized by its colorful food compositions, hipster music playlist and ever-growing collection of Sharpie graffiti, which help art students feel right at home.
“We really wanted the foods to stand on their own,” café cook Mike Angelo said as he sorted through the found and donated materials. “We found that by making our customers stand, they really wake up to the flavors and appreciate the artistic statement this place is trying to make.”
When it comes to the menu, the Starving Artist has something for every palate. Packets of ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise are available for those who prefer a savory dining experience, while jelly and honey may be purchased to satisfy a sweet tooth.
“We’ve tried to tie in our restaurant concept with RIT’s environmentally friendly practices”, said co-owner Donald Atello, “So over 50 percent of what we serve here is being recycled from various studio classrooms.” Such ‘green’ offerings include leftover paints, sawdust, and a variety of papers and glues.
“...I tried the new silica muffin. It came frosted with fresh hot glue and a nail. You might say the nail hit the spot,” joked second year Nuclear Sculpture student Sictoria Vavka.
During my visit, I ordered an appetizer tray of wood chips with acrylic paint, followed by an entrée medley of recycled foam core, Bristol board and newsprint glazed in linseed oil. Health enthusiasts will be pleased to find that the major food categories such as fruits, fibers, proteins and carbohydrates are represented within the new venue’s menu. Overall, the café’s artistic vibe, unique menu and quirky take on food service make it well worth a visit!
For Fans of Condiments, woodchips, Silica