He helped write the massive Modernist Cuisine books, and now he's cooking and teaching in his own temporary space. Photo courtesy of Maxime Bilet

During his nearly five years spent in the Modernist Cuisine kitchen/lab, Maxime Bilet co-authored the impressive molecular gastronomy encyclopedia set that included 3122 pages, 1927 recipes, and more than 230,000 photos. Now, he’s working on a project of a (slightly) smaller, more personal nature.

Bilet recently launched a 5,600-square-foot culinary arts space called Art for Food at 1001 Western Ave as part of Storefronts Seattle, a program that sets artists up (through grant money) in empty storefronts in South Lake Union, Pioneer Square, and the International District. The otherwise empty shops are transformed into de facto galleries and community spaces.

The concept for Art for Food is hard to quantify: it’s part teaching lab, part retail store, part lecture hall, part performance space. Bilet’s aim is to create an interactive experience that explores food as a method of communication by studying its relationship to technology, sustainability, art, history, social politics, etc.   

And while it’s definitely intellectual, it's not complicated—and from the sounds of it, it's a little Willy Wonka-esque. Bilet is using the space to host a series of dinners, workshops, and events in the coming few months, and tomorrow, January 10, will kick off the new year with a party featuring tastings from Brendan McGill of Hitchcock and Altstadt, Proletariat wines, Stoup Brewing, Theo Chocolate, Taylor Shellfish, and Bilet himself, plus musical performance and interactive stations. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door, with 10 percent of profits going to NW Food Education Fund.

Stay tuned to our weekly planner for info on dinners and events as we get them, and stop by to see the storefront 12-7 daily.

Editor's note: Bilet wrote to tell us that even after his grant money runs out, "I fully intend on keeping the space and continuing to build into a really powerful educational platform for food." Stay tuned!

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