LABA Festival Preview: Talking Sweet, Salty and Spicy with LABA Fellow Erin Patinkin, Founder & Co-president of Ovenly

Today we sit down with LABA artist fellow and baker extraordinaire Erin Patinkin to learn about what she is working on for the upcoming from LABA EAT Festival

Erin discusses experimenting in the kitchen and how she was inspired by ancient texts to come up with new recipes for the festival.

EAT, an arts festival from LABA with performances, music, art, teachings and tastings, will take place June 1-2 at the 14th Street Y. Come get a sneak peak, or…well, taste of Erin’s amazing food Thursday, May 23rd from 12-5 in the Y’s lobby.

So tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do?

My official title is Founder and Co-president of Ovenly. Back in 2010, I started Ovenly–a creative kitchen specializing in pastries and bar snacks–with my business partner Agatha Kulaga. Last year, we opened our first retail space. People like to push us into the category of “bakery” and though we see ourselves as much more, we’re OK with that. We’ve had a lot of fun press<;. If you’re like me and love the combinations of sweet, salt, and spice, then you have to visit. Our salted chocolate chip cookies or our black caraway smoked salt shortbread or our gingery honey almond corn will knock your socks off. Promise.

For Ovenly, I devise recipes, experiment in the kitchen, make last minute ingredient runs, train staff, and run the financial side of the business; however, I’m also a trained actor with experience in the visual arts, so I dabble in other things. For example; this August, illustrator Julia Pott<; and I will be mounting a gallery exhibition that celebrates youth through the medium of cake. Finally a marriage of my past and present careers!

And what are you working on for the festival?

I am creating the menu that accompanies the festival. The food serves as a transition tool for the audience, connecting the artistic works with the teachings. Each dish is inspired by the ancient Jewish texts we’ve been studying throughout the year, or responds to my fellow fellow’s artistic works, or both. Ever wonder what bread tasted like in biblical times? You’ll try that. You’ll also have to feed your neighbors figs dipped in honey, so get ready.

Can you tell us a little bit about your inspiration and process for this?

When I read about food, my mind immediately wanders to flavors. So, throughout the year, when we would read about bread, or wine, or vinegar, or game, or stew, I’d immediately think, well, what did that taste like? How’d those ancients eat that? If you survived only on bread, what would it feel like to have access to a luxurious dish? Each of the fellows has found a line or a tale that struck them in such a way that it inspired them to create or revise an artistic work, but I think I found inspiration everywhere. Since the entire year has been themed around eating (or on some cases starving), and since that’s generally all I think about, there was a lot of fodder to work with.

In LABA you study ancient Jewish texts in order to gain inspiration for your work. Which texts inspired you?
My biggest inspirations were the stories of Ruth and of Jacob and Essau<;.

Want to know more about Erin? Click here<; for her bio. You can read more about Ovenly here<;. Don’t forget to stop by the Y lobby on Thursday from 12-5 for some amazing Ovenly treats!

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