Illiana Somoroff

One recipe, two hands, three generations

A conversation with Elena Braida

For her graduation piece at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Elena Braida created Cucina, è bello! a workshop cooking experience. Through making gnocchi from her grandmothers’ homemade recipe, she asks questions like, how to interact with an audience? How to incorporate storytelling? How to create tools? And what is a recipe? 


Gnocchi, spoons and other attributes in the drying process - taken by Francesca Lucchitta

With: Elena Braida

Felt, Feeling, Felt

Coming from a background in textiles, Elena has spent much of her time studying and learning how to make her own. She created numerous different pieces out of felt, the medium she is most captivated by. But, she felt that there needed to be more between the viewer and the piece. While exhibiting her textile, she became frustrated that it was displayed as an “exhibition piece” and that people could not touch it to feel its texture. As a result, she decided for the next artwork to do something that enabled more interaction.

Her method for creating this workshop was based on the framework and idea of how we use “recipes” in our every day. She meticulously thought about every ingredient that she would need to create this experience for others, and went through it step by step, reflective of how one would follow a cooking recipe.

Elena first started with a simple workshop where she wanted to show others how to make gnocchi. This went really well on her first try, but she knew she wanted to take it even one step further. Therefore, she decided to make all the tools, that she needed for cooking and for the workshop, from scratch.

Cook, it's beautiful!

She used the tools and opportunities around her to make everything she needed for the workshop. She even made the cloth to strain the pasta by herself, as well as the glasses and plates used for serving. Through this freedom to make the entire dinner herself, using the materials around her, she was able to create a unique and wonderful workshop dinner experience. 

The plates have small groves in it, so that the gnocchi can effortlessly fall in them, creating an aesthetically pleasing artwork that one can eat from! While experiencing this dinner, one can reflect on how much thought and care went into creating every aspect of this dinner.