We bring medieval menus to one of the world’s top culinary schools!

Mon 21st Jan

It's not every day you get invited to deliver a series talks about medieval food in Napa California, but when Blackfriars' MD Andy Hook was asked to give an insight into medieval food and drink at the Culinary Insitute of America with Durham University, he was delighted to attend!
Andy travelled to the states with a team from the Ordered Universe research project, led by Durham University, who took part in the Napa Lighted Art Festival, bringing the past of an English medieval scientist alive with a dazzling digital artwork, as well as talks and historical food and wine tastings. 
The sound and projection piece, called Horizon, explored human understandings of our place in the universe, from the ground-breaking works of English medieval scientist Robert Grosseteste to the modern-day. 
Visitors experienced projections of Grosseteste’s interpretations of the universe and its structure, along with hearing his own words, before journeying through to 21st-century imagery from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 
The projection was a partnership between the Ordered Universe project and The Projection Studio, who had previously collaborated on a show for Lumiere Durham as well as other international light shows.
As part of the Napa Lighted Art Festival, the Ordered Universe team also brought a taste of medieval times to the US West Coast. They hosted food and wine demonstrations, in conjunction with the Culinary Institute of America at Copia and Blackfriars Restaurant, Newcastle. 
Professor Giles Gasper, Principal Investigator of the Ordered Universe project at Durham University (pictured here with Andy), said: “When medieval science and modern-day research combine it gives an inspiring and humbling window into the past. 
“Taking part in events such as Napa Lighted Art Festival gives us the opportunity to share the wonders of medieval science in new and innovative ways.  From understandings of our place in the universe to the discovery that medieval cuisine was a global fusion of flavours, there is so much to explore and to learn.
“Robert Grosseteste is probably the greatest scientist that people have never heard of, so to be able to bring his works to a new, international audience is a huge privilege.”
The Ordered Universe team also hosted talks and readings across the Napa Lighted Art Festival exploring medieval thinking and influence on topics such as artistic expression in religious belief and the science of the rainbow.
Andy Hook, md of Blackfriars added: "It's been a pleasure working closely with Durham University on this project to deliver these educational talks and demonstrations - I have been researching medieval food and drink since we opened the restaurant in 2001 to help us to understand what life was like in the 13th century and to make our medieval banquets and themed events as authentic as we possibly can.  The talks were well received by the delegates and it's been great to share my knowledge with them".
Blackfriars was voted ‘Taste of the North East’ in the North East England Tourism Awards for the second time in November 2018.  As well as the 90-seat restaurant, believed to be the oldest purpose-built dining room in the UK, the complex also includes a 50-seat Banquet Hall, Parlour Bar, Cookery School and Wine/Beer/Whisky Tasting Room.  The group also owns Dobson &Parnell on Newcastle quayside and Hinnies Restaurant in Whitley Bay.