While many restaurant owners have tweaked and expanded their business models in the last year, most have kept their mission solidly in the realm of food and hospitality. Michelin-starred chef Hiroki Odo, who helms his kaiseki-style restaurant Odo in New York’s Flatiron neighborhood, has planted roots in another industry entirely: art.
The chef recently opened The Gallery in the space next door to Odo which, as the name suggests, functions as an art gallery. It’s an idea he’s mulled for several years, pre-pandemic. He originally intended to run The Gallery from the basement of Odo, but the project expanded a year and a half ago when the adjacent space became available.
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“My initial idea for the concept was combining both the culinary and art worlds. Two worlds that are symbiotic and that I believe could create something truly meaningful when combined,” says Odo, who credits artists including George Nakajima and Isamu Noguchi as inspirations for his culinary approach.
The Gallery represents his first venture outside of the culinary industry, and will exist purely as an exhibition space until later this year, when the chef plans to introduce a dining component to the concept. He plans to serve casual Japanese cuisine in relation to the artwork being shown in the space; both the menu and exhibitions will rotate.
“I really want to build a connection between people and throughout the community,” he adds. “I aim to showcase art from Kyushu [Odo’s hometown] as well as New York City, and portray how my two worlds are intertwined.”
The Gallery’s opening artist is photographer Cody Rasmussen, whose 11 works on view feature flowers, spices and herbs. “His work is simple, but there is always significant meaning in his pieces and they have a feeling of warmth and depth that I enjoy,” says Odo.
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