The Last Dinner of the Great Exhibition — March 17, 2012

The Great Exhibition of 1851, in London’s now-destroyed Crystal Palace, marked the first in a series of World’s Fairs.  Drawing on emerging globalization and its influence on Victorian England, we scoured primary and secondary materials for inspiration, including illustrations, photographs, and signage from the Victoria & Albert Museum, and others.  A muse emerged in the form of Alexis Soyer, known as one of the first “celebrity chefs” and head of the considerably mammoth restaurant called the “Gastronomic Symposium of All Nations”—the grand platform created to showcase international cuisine during the Exhibition’s run.  The further we delved, the more it became apparent that food served as a highly nuanced symbol, used to simultaneously invoke cosmopolitanism, highlight cultural differences, and engender patriotism all at the same time.  

We imagined The Last Dinner as its culminating feast, a jubilant end to that heady five-month influx of crowds that brought an intersecting cacophony of languages, new foods, innovations and ideas from the world over.


Cocktail Hour
Cheese Straws
puff pastry, parmesan, Gruyère, rosemary, thyme 

Oysters on the Half Shell
shallot mignonette, lemon

Chili Pea Puffs
paneer, serrano chili, chili flake

Roasted Chicken with Herb Butter
shallot, chive, thyme

Crispy Creamed-Potatoes & Fennel
fennel seed, pecorino, orange

Israeli Couscous Timbale
oyster mushroom, herbs

Buttered Tiger Prawns
curry leaf, chili

Petites Gelées a la Panachée
layered ginger-cream, lychee, & rose-cream gelée, soft-whipped cream


orange blossom, thyme

Roman Punch
prosecco, lemonade, rum, orange, meringue float

Photography by Monica So and music co-curated by HASH Magazine