Shared meals


Some people say there are some things that you should never talk about over dinner. We don’t say that. This project brought people together to talk about things we might not ordinarily discuss.

Martino Gamper Dinner, Shared Meals, 2016

Collaborators: Cecila Fox, Jad Choucair, Martino Gamper, Michael Kucyk, Noise in My Head, Nur Shkembi, RMIT Design Hub, Sean McConnell, U-P

160224_WillNeill_GamperDinner-14.jpgOn Wednesday 24 February 2016 Hotel Hotel hosted the first in a series of experimental dinners with Martino Gamper in collaboration with RMIT Design Hub, who were exhibiting Martino’s much-acclaimed project 100 Chairs in 100 Days (25 Feb – 9 April 2016).

We love Martino’s approach: the way he refashions existing objects into new objects, and in doing so, gives them new meaning; his understanding of how objects can tell cultural stories. These are things we think about a lot at Hotel Hotel. Martino’s creative1Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and valuable is formed, such as an idea, a scientific theory, an invention, a literary work, a painting, a musical composition, a system, a joke, etc. It is the process of producing something that is both original and worthwhile, It can come in many forms and can be applied to all areas of life and work. approach is also one of thinking through making. Through projects such as ‘In a State of Repair’ he champions repair and celebrates the craftspeople, artisans and technicians who fix things that break. These ideas are similarly reflected in some of our public programming.

Having Martino in town seemed like the perfect opportunity to hold our first dinner. The purpose of the dinner was to bring people together to talk about things that we might not ordinarily discuss. Throughout the evening we included a few sensorial cues to encourage this. Our friends Jad Choucair and Nur Shkembi read Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish’s ‘Passport’ in Arabic and English. The poem explores themes of nationality and identity, how they are built and how they are dismantled. We also asked guests to bring a much-loved wine glass, share its story, and at the end of the evening swap it with the person sitting next to them. This simple gesture reminds us of the value of sharing and exchange – how imparting something puts us in the position to receive and learn… When you give you get.

The meal was cooked by Monster kitchen and bar2Monster kitchen and bar is the physical and metaphorical seed of Hotel Hotel. It’s the public life of the building and the living room of the hotel’s guests. executive chef Sean McConnell. The menu was made through the process of exchange. Martino shared a collection of textures and tastes with Sean, and Sean wove these throughout the meal. Guests tasted bitter, raw and pickled foods3Our interest in food manifests theoretically and practically. As well as working with producers we’ve become producers ourselves: the NewActon garden supplies A. Baker fresh produce and we collect honey from our East Lake Foreshore for Monster kitchen and bar. with flavours including lemon, anise, cumin, fennel, chilli, coriander and ginger.


To start

Raw and pickled vegetables, bagna cauda

Whipped bottarga, semolina crackers

Gin cured kingfish, cucumber, dill, watercress, horseradish

To share

Heirloom tomatoes, tamarind, chilli

Bitter leaves, lemon, pangrattato

Broccoli, barley, miso, sunflower

Steamed Daintree barramundi, cabbage, pickled daikon, shichimi togarashi

To finish

Spiced figs and mascarpone


The atmosphere was informal, purposefully without fanfare to encourage comfort. Dishes were made for passing around and wine was placed on the table for guests to help themselves, like they would at home.

The music was curated by Michael Kucyk from Noise in my Head. It was a collection of music from some of the different cultures that make up Australia as we know it today.

Melanie Stapleton from Cecila Fox arranged the flowers and created a large-scale eucalyptus and banksia installation on the outdoor terrace. The table arrangements were wrapped in paper and given to guests on departure.