Maxime Bilet simmers with excitement—and reveals a slight French accent—when he speaks about his love of food and his belief in its ability to bring human beings together. “Food is clearly the most important connection we have amongst generations and cultures,” he says. Born in Paris and raised in New York, the 31-year-old chef/artist/scientist/entrepreneur, who has worked with the likes of London’s renowned chef Heston Blumenthal, moved to Seattle six years ago to co-write the James Beard Award-winning tome Modernist Cuisine with pioneering molecular gastronomist Nathan Myhrvold. Bilet’s newest undertaking is Imagine Food, an interactive space near the downtown waterfront where he encourages visitors to, essentially, play with their food. The windowed storefront features sparkling chandeliers, a cookbook library, educational kitchen, rotating art installations and a small permaculture garden. Bilet hopes the space will help people more fully appreciate the relationship food has with science, art and history—and all of our senses. Offering themed events (such as “Surrealist” and “Grand Tea Party”) and unusual, hands-on cooking courses (such as blowtorch and water-bath techniques), Bilet gives guests a new gusto for food. Marveling at the vibrant energy he has experienced in the space, he says, “The dynamic, memory retention and empowering of our guests is absolutely breathtaking.”
NEED TO KNOW
1/ Now permanent, Imagine Food began as part of Seattle Storefronts, a project that puts pop-up art installations and shops in vacant or underutilized spaces.
2/ The interactive gallery includes a hydroponic “edible” wall covered in herbs and wild plants with medicinal value.
3/ To find out about dinners, cooking courses and installations visit the space (open noon–6 p.m.; 1001 Western Ave.) or maximebilet.com