LAKE FOREST — Cecilia Lanyon and Dominic Zumpano are finding ways to blend the art on display at The Gallery with the food coming out of the kitchen.
Lanyon, a Lake Forest native and Lake Bluff resident, calls their new venture a culinary studio.
The Gallery opened on Jan. 7 at 202 East Wisconsin Avenue in Lake Forest, serving lunch and dinner five days a week with the menu geared to the current art exhibit on display.
Zumpano, also a Lake Bluff resident, creates the menu and prepares the food while Lanyon arranges the art exhibits, which change every few months.
“It’s a culinary studio,” said Lanyon. “We represent art of all media and have expanded into representing culinary art.”
Coordination of art and food are critical. Zumpano said the art must inspire epicurean creations that fit the season. A collection of summer scenes will not work when the only fresh produce is the kind grown at a different time of year.
Once Lanyon lines up an exhibitor, Zumpano spends time getting to know the artist. By the time the conversation is done the chef of nearly 22 years knows what kind of a menu he will cook during the current show.
The current show running through March 10 features the work of a Chicago-based artist known as ISz, according to Lanyon. She said the abstract paintings have an Asian flair, prompting an Asian fusion menu. Zumpano said he creates offerings based on his interpretation of the art, which includes some of his culinary and personal background.
“If you cook from your heart people can taste your soul,” Zumpano said.
The current menu includes three noodle dishes. One is udan with a spicy pork ragu, tofu and scallions. Another is ginger scallion with almonds, bamboo shoots and a fried egg. There is also Tagliatelle noodles. Zumpano said the lamb meatballs come with a tomato sauce, feta cheese and mint. That one is a little more personal.
“It’s elevated spaghetti and meat balls,” Zumpano said. “I borrowed it from my dad.”
One of the current appetizers, sesame eggplant hummus, is a fusion of a variety of cultures. Zumpano said he mixes eggplant, sesame oil and soy sauce. Then he adds chick peas to create a paste type hummus.
Though The Gallery does not serve alcoholic beverages, diners will soon be able to bring their own bottle of wine. The Lake Forest City Council unanimously approved a resolution March 6 allowing restaurants that do not serve alcoholic beverages to let customers bring their own.
The BYOB license for restaurants not already serving alcohol was prompted by The Gallery’s request. Staff there is required to undergo all training they would need for a license granted to restaurants already serving alcoholic beverages, according to the draft of the ordinance.
Lanyon said the bring-your-own service will begin as soon as the paperwork is complete.
The next exhibit opening March 11 is emerging artists featuring work from students at public and private schools in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, according to Lanyon. It runs through March 25.
Lanyon said the menu for the two weeks of the show is nostalgic childhood favorites.
“It’s riffs on my childhood fun,” said Zumpano. “It’s going to be about things I enjoyed.” A lot of it comes from family Italian recipes. “There will be old school Italian meat balls with cheese and tomato sauce. We had it Sundays growing up.”
When Zumpano remembers a lot of twice-baked potatoes from his childhood. He said a variation on that theme will be twice-baked potato ravioli. The filling will be potato and the shell will be made personally by Zumpano. He is working on others, including a play on peanut butter and jelly.
Meanwhile, Lanyon said she has several possible featured artists in mind and is still working on the exhibit for late March.
The Gallery is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and for dinner from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and until 10 a.m. Friday and Saturday. It is closed Sunday and Monday. It is located at 202 East Wisconsin Avenue in Lake Forest (224-544-5961, http://www.thegallerylf.com/).