Making food inspired by visual art is hard. The risk of creating something pretentious or barely edible: pretty much guaranteed. But not at the Blue Bottle Café in San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art, where pastry chefs Caitlin Freeman and Leah Rosenberg (shown at left in the above photo) design their edible tributes to be playful (also delicious), like the bubblegum-flavored Cindy Sherman ice cream float that CHOW photographer Chris Rochelle shot in August. Last month, Rosenberg broke out the cotton candy machines for SFMOMA’s ongoing pop-up lunch series. The inspiration: Paul Klee’s Loewenmensch (lower right), a 1934 work in SFMOMA’s exhibition “Paul Klee’s Circus.” Rosenberg and Tess Wilson (right) twisted strands of cotton candy (subtly tinted and flavored with charcoal salt, powdered honey, and lemon verbena) into sugar nimbuses echoing the lion mane in Klee’s painting. The key to pulling off the art-food thing Blue Bottle does so well: not taking yourself—or art—too seriously.

Photos by Chris Rochelle /

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