A Queen Charlotte restaurant put an artistic twist on the trend toward takeout and food delivery as a result of COVID-19.
Gather Food is one of many restaurants across the country that have closed their dining rooms to customers due to the novel coronavirus, only staying open to offer takeout and delivery.
But rather than put their “Be My Quarantine” dinner series in plain brown paper bags, chef-owner Giulio Piccioli’s nephew decorated each package of Italian fare — fusilli, focaccia, risotto cakes and more — with unique illustrations inspired by the pandemic.
“Art machine” Andrea Piccioli, who is visiting his uncle from Italy while on a work visa, told the Observer he drew about 100 illustrations for the weekly take-home dinner series, which started on March 20 and continued on Fridays for a span of four weeks, until April 10.
Andrea said his first two drawings for the series — figures holding a balloon and a kite — were inspired by the idea of not being in charge.
“There is this element that you’re not so much in control of,” he said. “The wind is in control.”
For the third week, he drew figures hugging, dancing and high-fiving.
“Everybody’s been missing physical contact and connection with other people so the bags portrayed two people connecting in some sort of way,” he said.
The bags for the fourth and final week of the series were figures sitting in solitude, inspired by “how it can be a little bit difficult to spend all this time on your own.”
Andrea is no stranger to spending time on his own. At the age of 18, he was hospitalized due to an autoimmune problem and bedridden for a year.
“It’s not an easy situation, but I try to see the beauty,” he said, explaining that he used drawing as a way to pass the time, especially when he felt lonely, sad or angry. “For me it’s like my best friend.”
After he recovered, he went to art school in Bologna, Italy.
“It’s my way to communicate,” he said of his passion for art. “I love the illustrations.”
Giulio told the Observer local reaction to the dinner series was good.
“Art has a power to lift the spirits and make people smile,” he said.
With the series complete, he added, the restaurant is now offering an expanded takeout menu available between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays.
They will also be announcing a series of promotional bags that will once again incorporate Andrea’s art in the near future.
At the time of publication, Giulio said the illustrated, promotional bags were still being developed, but they are expected to be made available on a monthly basis and include ingredients that people can use to make their own dinners at home, such as fresh pasta, house-made nettle pesto, and more.
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