The twenty-third annual Canstruction NYC Design/Build Competition is under way at Brookfield Place, although they’re a little trickier to find this year than in the past, when they lined the Winter Garden. The architectural battle and fundraiser — visitors are asked to bring a can of high-quality, nonperishable food to donate — features more than two dozen creative structures built by teams referencing the international hunger crisis. As always, the overall construction is best viewed through a camera, but get up close and personal with the naked eye to see how ingenious many of the intricate designs are. You can vote for your favorite here. Among the impressive competitors are HOK’s “Presidential CANdidates,” Thornton Tomasetti’s “Wall Street Charging Bull,” Severud Associates’ “Spanning the Hungry Rapids,” GACE Consulting Engineers’ “The Butterfly Effect: How Far CAN Kindness Go?,” RAND Engineering & Architecture’s “Pipe Down Hunger,” and WJE Engineers & Architects’ “Yoshi’s Soup’er Mission,” although it will be mighty tough to beat out Gensler’s “What’s Up, Doc?” At the end of the competition, the structures are taken apart and the cans donated to City Harvest, so come on by, bring some nonperishable items, and help CANstruction raise upwards of 100,000 cans of food. On November 12 from 12 noon to 3:00, Jenny McCoy, a chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education and author of Desserts for Every Season, will host a free presentation and tasting (of sweets made with canned food) next to Hudson Eats, right near several of the CANsculptures.
140 East 60th St. between Madison & Fifth Aves.
Saturday, October 31, $59 (plus tax, tip, and book purchase), 12 noon
Brooklyn-born restaurant critic Mimi Sheraton will be at Rotisserie Georgette on October 31 at 12 noon, interviewed by Manhattan-born author Michael Gross, focusing on Sheraton’s most recent book, 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover’s Life List. As they discuss food and real estate — quite a healthy topic, as so many New York City eateries have closed or moved because of skyrocketing rents — guest will dine on Barigoule d’Artichauts and Brandade de Morue as an appetizer, Poulet Rôti “Farnèse” and Pomme Aligot for the main course, and Chocolate Pot de Crème for dessert, all taken from the book. Afterward, there will be a book signing with both Sheraton, who has also written such tomes as From My Mother's Kitchen: Recipes and Reminiscences and The Bialy Eaters, and Gross, author of such nonfiction works as 740 Park and House of Outrageous Fortune.
The very pink Hello Kitty Cafe pop-up food truck will be back in Times Square on Monday, celebrating the recent fortieth anniversary of this fascinating feline fashion icon and avatar of the Japanese concept of kawaii, or “cute,” which sometimes seems to have taken over the globe. Devotees mourned the Hello Kitty store’s departure this past August from Forty-Second St. but can celebrate its temporary new digs at 1565 Broadway, which will remain open through the holiday season. The pink cafe van outside sells strawberry lemonade, bottles of water with a bow, sugary donuts, sweetly decorated petit-four cakes, a macaron box, dainty coffee mugs, and adorable T-shirts. Food purchases of $25 and more get you a free tote bag as well.
Don’t let the cold weather scare you away from seeing the New York Botanical Garden’s beautiful celebration of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo’s passionate relationship with the natural world. “Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life,” on view at the Bronx institution through November 1, is a wide-ranging tribute to the artist, including paintings, photographs, a historical timeline, a re-creation of her garden and studio, known as La Casa Azul, and special programs. “When we began to research Frida Kahlo, we wanted to delve into the story of the woman who has been examined through her pain and suffering and paint her in a different light,” NYBG associate vice president of exhibitions and public engagement Karen Daubmann writes in her catalog essay, “Making Frida Kahlo’s Garden in New York: The Conservatory Exhibition.” She continues, “We wanted to learn more about the iconic face that is emblazoned on canvases, the strong and fierce-looking dark-haired, dark-eyed woman who used to be known as Diego Rivera’s wife and is now known simply as Frida. The more we researched, the more intrigued we became. . . . We were fascinated by the incredible detail of Kahlo’s curated life.” That curated life is lovingly explored in the exhibition, which features fourteen of the artist’s paintings in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library’s art gallery, including “Portrait of Luther Burbank,” in which Kahlo depicts the famed botanist emerging from the root of a tree; the vulvic “Sun and Life”; “Two Nudes in the Forest,” which was originally called “The Earth Itself”; and the sensational “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird,” in which Kahlo, in between her first and second marriages to Rivera, paints herself surrounded by flowers, a dead hummingbird, a monkey, butterflies, and a black cat, a symbolic representation of life, death, and rebirth. The path to the next part of the show, in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, is lined with poems by Nobel Prize–winning Mexican poet Octavio Paz, including “The Religious Fig” and “Nightfall.” Paz was in fact not a big fan of Kahlo’s and Rivera’s; “Diego and Frida ought not to be subjects of beatification but objects of study — and of repentance . . . the weaknesses, taints, and defects that show up in the works of Diego and Frida are moral in origin,” Paz wrote in Essays on Mexican Art. “The two of them betrayed their great gifts, and this can be seen in their painting.”
The centerpiece of the exhibition is La Casa Azul, a reconstruction of Kahlo’s studio and garden at her family home in Mexico City, which is now a museum. The conservatory is filled with folk art objects, religious ex-voto paintings, Mexican plants described in both English and Spanish (and inspired by archival photographs), and re-creations of the Frog Fountain with its mosaic floor, Kahlo’s desk and easel, and the strikingly colorful Casa Azul pyramid, holding dozens of Mexican cacti and succulents. The conservatory exhibition was designed by Scott Pask, the three-time Tony-winning designer of The Book of Mormon, The Coast of Utopia, and The Pillowman. Outside the conservatory, by the lily pond, is a fence of organ pipe cacti, like the one Kahlo had at her San Ángel house. “Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life” immerses you in the world of this fascinating artist, who passed away in 1954 at the age of forty-seven. In conjunction with the exhibition, the NYBG is hosting special programming through closing day. On Saturdays and Sundays at 1:00, there is live music and dance in Ross Hall and throughout the garden, with performances by such groups as Mexico Beyond Mariachi, the Villalobos Brothers, Flor de Toloache, and Calpulli Danza Mexicana. “Cooking with Frida” takes place in the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden on Wednesdays, Saturday, and Sundays at 2:00 & 4:00. The daily “Frida’s Fall Harvest” consists of family-friendly activities in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, including a puppet show and playhouse kitchen; the children’s garden will be open till 9:30 on October 23 for “Frida for Families: A Spooky Nighttime Adventure.” Also daily (but not for kids), “Spotlight on Agave: A Tequila Story” presents the history and tradition of the Mexican spirit. October 22 is “Frida al Fresco Evening” LGBT Night, with live music, stilt dancers, and Mexican food and drink. On October 24-25 and October 31 – November 1, things get scary with Día De Los Muertos Weekends, featuring skeletal processions, stilt dancers, skull face painting, and more. The “¡Cámara, Acción!” film series continues on Sundays at 3:00 in Ross Hall with Alonso Ruiz Palacios’s Güeros on October 25 and Francisco Franco’s Last Call on November 1. Also on November 1, there will be a live performance by two male models interacting with Humberto Spíndola’s “Two Fridas” sculptural installation, based on Kahlo’s 1939 double portrait in which two versions of her sit next to each other, holding hands.
AMC Empire 25
234 West 42nd St. between Seventh & Eighth Aves.
October 22-25, $49-$125
Food and film go together like, well, dinner and a movie. The annual Food Film Fest takes it to the next level, showing films about food, accompanied by special talks and tastings. The 2015 event features more than two dozen short works, including several New York City, U.S., and world premieres. Among the tasty morsels are Nina Ha’s rap music parody Baby Got Kale, Barbara Zonzin’s Choco Thriller, Barbara Tranter’s Happy Goats Happy Cheese, Derek Klingenberg’s Serenading the Cattle with My Trombone, and Natasha Subramaniam and Alisa Lapidus’s animated fridge fight, Zergut. The festival takes place at the AMC Empire in Times Square, beginning October 22 ($89 / VIP $114) with “Tender: Stories of Love and Meat, which pairs four films with Texas BBQ from Kreuz Market, Kent Black of Black’s Barbecue, and Scott Morales of Taylor Café, pork tacos by Tortilleria Nixtamal, sliders from Schnipper’s, and potent potables from Iron Station, Black Rooster, and NY Distilling Co. October 23 ($99 / VIP $124) is the ever-popular “Food Porn Party,” with nine films, an appearance by Larry Caldwell, a VIP party by Public, ramen by Yosuke Sumida with Keizo Shimamoto, a vegetarian treat from Dirt Candy’s Amanda Cohen, and sweets from Archichef and Top Pot Donuts. On October 24 at noon (kids $23, adults $32, family packages $100-$125), “Eat Your Movies!” is a family event with six children’s films, food by Night Kitchen inspired by the films, treats from Fishing Creak Creamery and Robicelli’s, and kid-friendly food activities. On Saturday night ($99 / VIP $129), “Edible Adventure #13: Hungry for Love” consists of five films, a VIP party by David Burke Kitchen, food from Uncle Boons, Manna’s, chef Karl Palma, and Liddabit Sweets, and a matcha tea tasting. The culinary festivities conclude on October 25 at noon ($49) with “Restaurant Revival: Jodie’s Diner (1985-2014),” a screening of James Boo’s Nothing with Something: The Death of a Diner, with brunch prepared by Jodie Royston of Jodie’s Restaurant, the Albany, California, favorite that closed last year but is looking for a new home. Part of the proceeds from the festival benefit the Billion Oyster Project.
Who: Leonard Lopate, Marcus Samuelsson, Maangchi, and Madhur Jaffrey
What: “Lopate and Locavores: Eating Around the World”
Where: The Greene Space at WNYC, the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, 44 Charlton St. at Varick St., 646-829-4000
When: Wednesday, October 7, 14, 21, $25 (includes one drink), 7:00
Why: Three-time James Beard Award winner Leonard Lopate will host his annual food series this month at the Greene Space at WNYC, featuring three celebrity chefs joining him for a discussion, demonstration, and tasting. On October 7, the WNYC legend will welcome Marcus Samuelsson (Red Rooster Harlem, Streetbird Rotisserie, Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home) to talk about Ethiopian and Swedish cuisine, followed by the Korean Julia Child, Maangchi, author of Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking, on October 14, and Madhur Jaffrey, the Godmother of Indian Cooking and author of Vegetarian India: A Journey Through the Best of Indian Home Cooking, on October 21.