Chef Ollie Dabbous Gets Ambitious at Sotheby’s New Pop-Up Restaurant

Dessert will be a Barbara Hepworth-inspired rhubarb crumble.

Canapes, prepared by Ollie Dabbous for Sotheby's London ahead of their February contemporary sale, in front of Andy Warhol's Flowers. Courtesy of Sotheby's London.
Canapes, prepared by Ollie Dabbous for Sotheby's London ahead of their February contemporary sale, in front of Andy Warhol's Flowers. Courtesy of Sotheby's London.

Does a great work of art ever whet your appetite? Sotheby’s London is hoping you’re hungry of ahead of its June 13 and 14 Modern and post-war British art sale, which it is celebrating by hosting a pop-up restaurant from Michelin star chef Oliver “Ollie” Dabbous June 10–12.

For three nights only, Dabbous, who was dubbed “the most wanted chef in Britain” in 2012, will serve a special meal celebrating British culture at Sotheby’s New Bond Street galleries. A select group of 70 diners, each paying £250 ($360), will enjoy wine, cocktails, and six courses by the master chef while sitting amid artworks from the upcoming sale, which features some of the Britain’s greatest artists.

Barbara Hepworth, <em>Galliard</em>. Courtesy of Sotheby's London.

Barbara Hepworth, Galliard. Courtesy of Sotheby’s London.

“I picked out a few of the works that were my favorite and also ones where there was a link to an ingredient,” Dabbous told artnet News in a phone conversation. To help him create, Sotheby’s set up a special viewing room with Dabbous’s chosen pieces, and the the chef got to sketching.

Ollie Dabbous's sketch for a rhubarb crumble inspired by Barbara Hepworth. Courtesy of Sotheby's London.

Ollie Dabbous’s sketch for a rhubarb crumble inspired by Barbara Hepworth. Courtesy of Sotheby’s London.

“When creating each of the dishes I was drawn to the different colors and textures, particularly with the more shape-driven abstract artworks that diners will be surrounded by,” Dabbous added in a statement. “I was also very interested in where the artists came from, and the regional stories behind the works, as I am passionate about the locations that I source ingredients from.”

For some dishes, there is a direct visual parallel between the dish and the art work, while others share a more conceptual connection. Dabbous has titled the dessert course, a rhubarb crumble with rose, geranium, poppy seed, and Cornish clotted cream, “The Beginning and the End.”

Patrick Heron, <em>Sydney Garden Painting: February 1990: I</em>, and Ollie Dabbous's rhubarb crumble, which is also inspired by Barbara Hepworth. Courtesy of Sotheby's London.

Patrick Heron, Sydney Garden Painting: February 1990: I, and Ollie Dabbous’s rhubarb crumble, which is also inspired by Barbara Hepworth. Courtesy of Sotheby’s London.

Visually, the dish pairs beautifully with Patrick Heron‘s Sydney Garden Painting: February 1990: I, but it’s actually made from ingredients linked to Barbara Hepworth, who has four lots in the sale.

“Rhubarb only grows in the north of England where she was born and grew up,” explained Dabbous of the Yorkshire-born artist. Hepworth went on to spend most of her life and ultimately die in Cornwall, which is known for its thick clotted cream. “There will be literally a Barbara Hepworth sculpture closer to you than your waiter,” he added.

Graham Sutherland, Rock with Three Heads II (detail) and Ollie Dabbous pea and mint dish. Courtesy of Sotheby's London.

Graham Sutherland, Rock with Three Heads II (detail) and Ollie Dabbous pea and mint dish. Courtesy of Sotheby’s London.

Other dishes include the more straightforward first course, a dish of peas and mint based on Graham Sutherland‘s green-hued Rock with Three Heads II. For Dabbous, the challenge is creating visually compelling food without compromising his flavors.

“Presentation is something that young chefs sometimes prioritize more than they should,” he admitted. “It’s ultimately taste you remember.”

It’s not the first time the chef has teamed up with Sotheby’s. In honor of the house’s February contemporary sale, Dabbous prepared a similarly art-inspired meal. Although he’s not an art collector himself, his eponymous restaurant, Dabbous, is just a few minute’s walk from the Sotheby’s office, so auction house staffers are among his regulars. “Working more with Sotheby’s has made me more inquisitive [about art],” the chef said.

“There’s something magical and charming about all these works surrounding the diners,” Dabbous concluded. “And then they’re all going to disappear.”

Coddled duck egg with smoked butter and mushrooms prepared by Ollie Dabbous for Sotheby's London ahead of their February contemporary sale. Courtesy of Sotheby's London.

Coddled duck egg with smoked butter and mushrooms prepared by Ollie Dabbous for Sotheby’s London ahead of their February contemporary sale. Courtesy of Sotheby’s London.

Poached turbot with sea vegetables and cucumber prepared by Ollie Dabbous for Sotheby's London ahead of their February contemporary sale. Courtesy of Sotheby's London.

Poached turbot with sea vegetables and cucumber prepared by Ollie Dabbous for Sotheby’s London ahead of their February contemporary sale. Courtesy of Sotheby’s London.

Ollie Dabbous admires John Piper’s Beach II. Courtesy of Sotheby's London.

Ollie Dabbous admires John Piper’s Beach II. Courtesy of Sotheby’s London.


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