Title of work

Independence Lunch2003MEDIA: diorama, website, PDF book
Jake was researching what would become his first cookbook A Tale of 12 Kitchens when asked to contribute to a South London Gallery exhibition. This prompted researching local food and cooking in Peckham. In 2003, the South London Gallery separated from Southwark Council to operate as an independent charitable trust. To celebrate this newly independent status invited artists contributed work to the exhibition ‘Independence’ - taking the subject of independence as a point of departure.
For this project Tilson planned, cooked and served a celebration lunch to South London Gallery staff during the installation of the show, cooked only with ingredients from independent grocers and markets in Peckham. The recipes used reflected the multi ethnic culture of Peckham including; Vietnam, Libya, Martinique, Iran, China, Tunisia, Thailand and Turkey. It was the time of the Iraq War so Tilson, out of respect to the civilians caught up in the conflict, cooked a recipe from a Baghdad using an 11th Century dish called Baid Masus - Baghdad Special Eggs.

Tilson’s kitchen is only a street away from the gallery so he was able to cook at home, bringing the food across the road. Each dish was served from fake takeaway cartons that labelled the food. A small printed booklet showed images of the local shops. What he found interesting were the discussions about local food he had with some of the workers from the exhibition who had stories of their own about shopping and cooking locally.

For the exhibition he made a diorama from fly-tipped materials found within half a mile of the gallery filled with the research and evidence of the lunch. A PDF book was made of recipes and photographs alongside a small website.

Thise cookes, how they stampe,
and streyne, and grynde,
And turnen substance into accident,
To fulfille al thy likerous talent!

Geoffrey Chaucher

Independence, South London Gallery.
Cooking the Books, Tender Books, London

WITH THANKS TO Jennifer Lee, Hannah Tilson, Donna Lynas, Margot Heller, Persepolis - Peckham, Matilda Dritch - The Institute of Culinary Arts Boston. SUPPORTED BY The Institute of Culinary Arts, Boston.
Virtually every archaelogical dig, every diary, every streetscape tells the cooks’ tale
Michael Symons - A History of Cooks & Cooking