National Chili Month at the Café: The Art of Chili, a Collaboration

Welcome to National Chili Month at the cafe, one of our traditional autumn celebrations. This year I’m pleased to report another Eclectic Cafe collaboration with blogger and chili lover, Under Western Skies, an avid, and excellent, chili cook.

Our last collaboration was in 2019, when we created a Halloween chili menu and recipe.

Coordinating blog posts again was all great fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed my role as food stylist, photographer and recipe consultant for the 2021 UWS chili recipe –– with the tasting and eating part a highlight of the proceedings.

Another highlight was creating photos inspired by one of my favorite artists: Wayne Thiebaud, modern American master, innovator and teacher turns 101 on November 15. As he approaches this milestone, he’s still thriving, painting every day, and continuing to delight viewers and inspire new generations of artists.

Thiebaud is best known for his colorful paintings of pies, pastries and cakes, though his prodigious body of work includes other objects, people, and city and river landscapes. I’ve always loved his imaginative food paintings like the iconic cake slices below.

Wayne Thiebaud, Cake Slices, oil on canvas, copyright Wayne Thiebaud 1995.

Somehow in the midst of Covid world, I missed Mr. Thiebaud’s 100th birthday. It was a joy to see news of his 101st and take time to revisit his work. It also provided immediate inspiration: For the Under Western Skies chili shoot I decided to incorporate elements of his style into my food photography. In this case, composition and his distinctive bold shadows.  

Here is Under Western Skies’ flavorful, textural chili, garnished with fresh cilantro and radishes:

To go with the chili, I made a batch of corn muffins. These Thiebaud cupcakes provided a perfect model for working out my muffin photo below.

Wayne Thiebaud, Four Cupcakes, oil on paper, copyright Wayne Thiebaud 1971.

There wasn’t time to experiment for this shoot, but next I want to add to my food photography that thick, luxurious, icing-like texture characteristic of Thiebaud paintings.  

This ends the art of portraying chili. Now, head to Under Western Skies for the art of creating and cooking a spicy New Mexico-inspired chili.

We both hope you enjoy this confluence of food, photography and art.

Copyright M. Vincent 2021. All photos copyright M. Vincent 2021.

All Wayne Thibaud art copyright Wayne Thiebaud.

4 thoughts on “National Chili Month at the Café: The Art of Chili, a Collaboration

  1. Have you used Wayne Thiebaud’s art in previous posts? It looks familiar, and I can’t imagine where else I would have seen it. Of course, now I’d like a slice of cake or a cupcake; I’m not sure this should hang on one of my walls!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for commenting. I’m glad you enjoyed this year’s chili posts, and yes, I did mention Thiebaud earlier in a 2020 post with a link to one of his paintings:

      LA’s Landmark Phoenix Bakery, Chinatown

      I get that pastry craving effect from his paintings too; I’d love some cake, or a slice of one of those pies with the lofty meringue to celebrate his birthday tonight! Alas, I had no time to bake, so we’ll have to raise a glass instead. Cheers!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s