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2018-2019 SeasonChatterton

3-course dinner takes center stage at Quantum Theatre’s ‘Chatterton’

By September 11, 2018August 8th, 2023No Comments
People eating outside

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Dinner will be as big an attraction as the show when Quantum Theatre stages “Chatterton,” a world premiere adapted from Sir Peter Ackroyd’s novel about a Romantic-era poet.

Following drinks in the churchyard, the audience will be divided into three groups when they enter Trinity Cathedral Pittsburgh, managing director Stewart Urist said. Each group will follow a different character around the venue, watching as the action unfolds in more than a dozen spaces — the rector’s office, the choir room and so on. Each group ends up seeing the story from the point of view of a particular character.

When Quantum produced a similar show, “Tamara,” in 2014, groups of friends sometimes chose to split up so they could each see a different perspective, Mr. Urist said.

Then they had lively conversations at dinner, which was served at intermission.

As in 2014, Quantum Theatre has secured several top Pittsburgh chefs to serve the three-course intermission meal for the show, which runs Friday through Oct. 28.

Each chef will design and prepare the meal for one of the seven weeks of the production’s run. The participating chefs are Kate Romane of Black Radish Kitchen, Bill Fuller of Big Burrito Group, Bob Sendall of All in Good Taste Productions, Jennifer Gerasole of Girasole, Eliza Jamison of Muddy Waters Oyster Bar, Derek Stevens of Union Standard and Dennis Marron of Or, the Whale.

The production poses some challenges for the chefs. For instance, the cathedral kitchen is small, and it’s located immediately off the room where the three audience groups will converge for the final pre-dinner scene. So while the show is going on just outside the door, the chefs will need to plate dinner very quietly.

Also, the chefs will have only 45 minutes to serve three courses to as many as 120 audience members.

Each chef is free to design his or her own menu as long as it’s in three courses.

“It has to be relatively easy to get done in a limited time, appealing to a lot of people and [be] substantial,” Mr. Fuller said.

Both Ms. Gerasole and Mr. Fuller said they’ll cook at their restaurants and then put the finishing touches on at the cathedral.

The location of the kitchen doesn’t concern Mr. Fuller.

“We do tons of catering, so we’re used to being behind a drapery on one side of the room,” he said. “We’re not loud, screaming sailors.”

Mr. Fuller intends to use plenty of late summer vegetables. He’ll make a tomato salad for the first course, and the entree course will probably consist of meatballs, polenta and a corn and green bean ragu, he said. He’s still deciding on dessert.

Ms. Gerasole intends to start dinner with Girasole’s house salad, which includes spring mix, carrots, tomatoes, olives, garbanzo beans, gorgonzola, sunflower seeds and sunflower dressing. For the main course, she plans to serve chicken Milanese, parmesan risotto and Sicilian caponata with eggplant, peppers, pine nuts, currants and basil. For dessert, she’s planning cassata, a layered ricotta cake.

The challenge of an event like this, she said, is that “you have to hit everyone’s palate.” But she has it a little easier than most, she said, because “with Italian food, that’s usually quite easy to do.” She’s thinking of Parmesan risotto because it will be substantial enough to please vegetarians who would pass on the chicken, she said.

Mr. Marron, the final chef on the docket, hasn’t yet planned a menu, but he said he will incorporate “the flavors of fall.”

“Chatterton” is being staged during the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s offering of world and American premieres of theater, dance, music, visual arts and immersive experiences…

Read the full story here.

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