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La Figa TV

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The piece about us on Seattle’s KING 5 TV Evening Magazine is now available online. They did an amazing job, you can watch it on their site.

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Food, Marriage, and Love

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by Tiberio Simone

As a chef, caterer, and “pleasure activist,” I can tell a lot about a couple’s relationship by the food they serve at their wedding celebration. Even more so if they’ve requested a live demonstration of the edible, naked-body performance art that conveys my core philosophy: that there is a fundamental fusion of food and touch with sensuality and pleasure. (An apropos, loving message to share on a wedding day.)

But even if the couple simply wants a menu with fresh, beautiful, tasty food representative of their personalities and lifestyle, I can still perceive their ability to communicate and compromise, for example, or staunchly defend each other, or develop as individuals and as a couple.

As a farm boy in Southern Italy, I realized that food and touch are the two basic ingredients of life. I now know that the perfect diet—the perfect existence—includes food and touch. Healthy, nutritious food fuels our bodies. Touching and being touched provides nutrition of a different sort, which means we can reproduce and show love.

Food nourishes the body from the inside out, and sex feeds it from the outside in. Together, they create life.

Three basic ingredients are needed for a memorable celebration: the couple, their loved ones, and the food. Those ingredients, and how they’re blended and presented, are what makes each wedding celebration—each couple’s relationship—unique.

Food is on this short list because if it is lovingly prepared and emotionally satisfying, it touches everyone’s senses—with alluring fragrances, pleasurable sights, tempting textures and temperatures, the sounds of guests savoring the food, and the sublime taste of love.

Last fall, an adorable young couple, totally in sync with each other, asked me to cater their wedding and to create sensual body art on one of their friends during the celebration.

I asked the couple if they were concerned how the 230 guests might react to my art (which Americans sometimes find risqué).

“It’s our wedding,” they both assured me, “and we want it exactly as we’ve envisioned. We completely trust you to know what we need.”

Everything proceeded flawlessly on the wedding day. At last it was time to surprise the guests with my performance art, so I set up a table on which the nearly nude friend—wearing only small panties, her breasts exposed—reclined in the position we’d discussed ahead of time. I applied freshly sliced fruit to her body to create a beautiful and colorful sculpture, much like those pictured and discussed in my book, La Figa: Visions of Food and Form.

Almost every wedding guest loved it; only a few felt uncomfortable. The bride and groom said to them, “You don’t have to watch this, but today is our day, and we want all of you to be here to enjoy the food we like and the art we appreciate.”

Wow. I was so impressed with how this couple stood together, unified in their desires, and created a really tasteful celebration.

My job is very important because I am responsible for the pleasure of everyone at the wedding. I take my role of pleasure activist very seriously.

When I first meet with an engaged couple, I usually invite them to my home, where I make and serve a random variety of dishes. I try not to talk about the wedding. Instead, we chat about how they met, who proposed to whom and how, and what the couple does together for fun. It’s important I get to know them and create a connection between us and the food. Based on our conversation and their reaction to the food, I learn more about them and their mutual tastes in food. The process quickly moves us to the next level, where we’re all on the same page. From here on out, the couple feels good about the decisions we make

Unfortunately, other dynamics—parents, budget, site, social status—sometimes come in to play and can adversely affect the food, the mood, and the celebration itself.

For example, parents who sponsor a wedding often feel entitled to make decisions. In one situation, the parents wanted the wedding held at a prestigious, five-star hotel. The bridal couple, on the other hand, strongly preferred a simple, unpretentious celebration.

This could have caused a serious disagreement between the bride and groom, but they stuck with what was important to them on the biggest day of their life: being married in a public park with a natural setting near the water and hiring me because they loved my food.

Consequently, the wedding ceremony was meaningful and lovely, the food was a huge success, and everybody finally came together. The day epitomized how well the two people worked as a couple to overcome challenges and to respect each other’s needs. They chose to honor their union above all else and were an inspiration to everyone. That is what I call a good start.

One of my favorite weddings was one I initially had doubts about. A former lover invited me as her guest to a friend’s wedding and mentioned, “By the way, it’s a potluck.”

I was shocked. What type of wedding celebration is this?

It turned out the couple had requested that guests make their own favorite dishes to share at the buffet table in lieu of showering gifts on the bride and groom. The couple preferred a celebration with food—prepared with love and personality—over receiving presents they might not even want or need.

What a memorable example of how a low-budget celebration can be more successful and fun than a big-budget event that likely has less of a connection between the food and the people it touches and nourishes.

And that is the most significant role of food: to enhance everyone’s pleasure in the relationships between food and touch, sensuality and good health, family and friends, and the couple recently united in marriage.

There are really only two things you must remember in life… eat well, and make love.

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Mermaid, Octopus, and KING 5 TV

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The theme for our studio shoot with KING 5 TV for Monday’s Evening Magazine segment about us was “Mermaid and Octopus.” In order to make the shoot go faster, Tiberio pre-sliced over 3000 pieces of grapes, daikon, cucumber, melon, plums, and star fruit. However it still took well over two hours to put it all together.

A few highlights are below, and the complete set of photos is available on our Facebook Page (if you haven’t already, please press the “Like Button” on that page to keep informed of the latest La Figa news and events). And as always, if you would like to find out about getting your own custom La Figa photo shoot, or bringing Tiberio’s live art of food and the body to your event, just send us an email.

 

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Chakra Goddess

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We recently did a custom La Figa studio shoot with Joy, a.k.a. the Tantra Chick (you can read about her experiences meeting us on her blog). We combined her tantra practice with Tiberio’s art by highlighting her chakras with ingredients. It was a really fun shoot, and Joy brought her daughter along to help out. Some of our favorite images are below. Bon appetit…
(click the images for larger versions)

Our favorite

Or maybe this is our favorite?

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Behind the scenes, with Joy's daughter

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Mother and daughter

Mother and daughter and chef

 

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Valentine’s Day with La Figa

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Here are a few photos from our Valentine’s Day event – eSe Amor, put on by Seattle’s eSe Teatro. This one was filmed by KING5 for an upcoming segment about us on Evening Magazine – stay tuned for more details on that! You can see the complete album on our Facebook page.

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Birthday Present Shoot!

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Reyshard – one of our favorite models ever – wanted to give a very special present to his mother for her birthday. So he did what any good son would do – he arranged a custom La Figa photo shoot for her. Here are a few shots, you can see the rest on our Facebook page

We went with an Egyptian theme

She was a fantastic model

Tiberio at work

Mother, son, and chef.

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Upcoming Events in February

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Thursday, February 9th
Tiberio will be in the store window at Babeland Seattle, decorating live models and sharing his sensual chocolates for Capitol Hill Art Walk.

Tuesday, February 14th
Tiberio and Matt will be at eSe Amor, eSe Teatro’s first annual Valentine’s Day Gala fundraiser. In addition to live art by Tiberio and book signing, the event celebrates Latin American authors with passionate readings from great works inspired by love, romance and sensuality. The event will include professional readings of excerpts from works by Pablo Neruda, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, Alfonsina Storni, Mario Vargas Llosa, Cervantes, and Laura Esquivel. Guests will be treated to gourmet chocolate and wine tastings, tapas, live music performances and romantic dancing demos.

February 10th through 18th
Two photographs from La Figa will be featured in the “Best of the Northwest” showcase at the Detroit Dirty Show – one of the largest erotic art shows in the world.

February 11th through March 17th
Four photographs from La Figa will be featured in the exhibition You Are What You Eat, at the Strathmore, in Bethesda, Maryland…

“Art about food triggers memories and desires as we connect food with beauty, pleasure, taste, perception, excitement and regret. This multi-media exhibition explores how the food that we eat creates the armature of our physical form and our perceived body image, and how figure representations in art allows the viewer a personal freedom to disregard cultural norms.”

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Photos from Recent Events

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We have had quite a few live events the last couple months – TEDx Rainier, The Northwest Chocolate Festival (where Tiberio’s chocolate won Best Dessert and Best in Show), Dr. Sketchy, a Seattle Erotic Arts Festival / Arts Crush party, and more. There is a new photo album with a full set of images on our Facebook page, and a few favorites below…

At the Dr. Sketchy figure drawing event

At the Dr. Sketchy figure drawing event

Sketching at Dr. Sketchy

Arts Crush / Seattle Erotic Art Festival party

Arts Crush / Seattle Erotic Art Festival party

At the Northwest Chocolate Festival

At TEDx Rainier

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Are We Too Prudish for Our Own Good?

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The Difference Between Sensuality and Sexuality
by Tiberio Simone

Being an American citizen, I enjoy the freedom of expression enjoyed by artists in this country. However, I wonder sometimes if we grasp some of the ironies of how we express that freedom.

I am from Italy, which is known as one of the most romantic countries in Europe, a destination for lovers who come to visit from all over the world. So, perhaps I have a slightly different perspective on how Americans express themselves, particularly with regard to romance and sensuality. In Italy, we embrace these concepts in everything we do – the way we dress, the way we cook, the way we dine, and the way we live.

In America however, I sometimes sense a split personality with regard to these concepts. More specifically, I think we sometimes confuse our sensuality with sexuality, and as a result, try to keep both of them hidden for fear of corrupting our children. My point is, there is a difference.

For instance, if any part of the human body that would traditionally be covered by a bathing suit on a typical American beach is shown in a film, that film is rated for adult content, usually getting an “R.” If it is shown in a TV show, the scene is either deleted, or the “naughty bits,” as the British call them, are digitally pixilated out. And of course those areas are not necessarily even covered by bathing suits in Europe, as many of the beaches there are clothing optional.

In this type of censorship, there is no accounting for context. It’s not about the type of scene, but rather the anatomy. If it is a romantic scene, with a context of love and respect, soft lighting, and appropriate mood, it is considered just as “dirty” as a scene in which naked women are running around and shown as sexual objects and nothing more.

The same goes for modern art. Gallery shows in which the human form is depicted tastefully and sensually are regarded as pornography by many “morals” groups, leading some Congressmen to suggest that public funding from the National Endowment for the Arts should not be awarded to any artist who deals with the nude form. The chilling effect, when we approach the sensual and the sexual in the same way, is that we teach our children that nudity itself is a dirty thing, and that they should all be ashamed of their bodies.

That is why young adults in America go directly from puberty straight to pornography – because they do not have anything in between, such as public art or other forms of healthy nudity – things that wold help them develop an understanding of sensuality.

Here is the ultimate irony. While we demonize certain parts of the human form, we don’t demonize treating women as sex objects at all, because we use sex to sell just about everything in the consumer marketplace. In TV commercials, young, attractive, and barely dressed women sell everything from cars to beer, weight loss plans to gym gear, breakfast cereals to vacation destinations – even snack foods practically guaranteed to make the men who eat them incredibly unattractive to the women used to sell them.

The difference here is context. We enter the world naked. It is our most natural state as humans, yet the naked body is considered dirty and inappropriate for all time zones. Meanwhile, treating women not as people, but simply as objects of sexual desire, which demeans all women in the process, is perfectly acceptable.

We need to create an environment in America in which sensuality is not confused with sexuality, so that we can all enjoy a freedom of expression that is based in context and meaning instead of an unhealthy and negative obsession with sex.

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La Figa and The X Factor: Reyshard Elsemaj

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Everybody who has seen our book La Figa: Visions of Food and Form or been to one of our live events is no doubt familiar with our signature coffee image, featuring a beautifully androgynous male model. What you probably do not know yet is that this is Reyshard Elsemaj – an incredibly talented singer who is a contestant on the new TV program “The X Factor”. He will be making his first appearance on the show very soon. Given the level of his talent, we think he has a great shot at winning the competition, and taking home a $5,000,000 recording contract.

This album features a selection of bonus images of Reyshard, taken at our La Figa photo shoot in late 2010. The complete album can be found on our Facebook page, but here are a few highlights…

Our signature coffee image

Matt did some publicity shots for Reyshard before the La Figa shoot.

Another publicity shot.

It was tough, but we ended up not including any of the smiling images in the book.

Another one we wish we could have included in the book.

One of the "Making Of" images.

The last shot of the day.

 

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La Figa: Visions of Food and Form is a book featuring a spectacular collection of sensual photography – models wearing nothing but the edible creations of James Beard award-winning chef Tiberio Simone. Using the human body as his canvas, and natural fresh ingredients as his paint, Simone’s elegant and tasteful nude images are the culmination of a five year collaboration with photographer Matt Freedman.

$39.95, 192 pages, Hardcover
• 160+ images
• 20 Recipes
• 40 Essays about food, love, and life

Next Generation Indie Book Awards Winner: 2012 Coffee Table / Photography Book of the year.