The multidisciplinary experience of the spring sessions would not be complete without the culinary arts. Under the guidance of the talented chef Karim Al-Hassan, the spring sessions has invited a number of chefs over the span of the program to experiment in our kitchen with different tastes from all over the world.
From the start of the program, Karim has curated chefs who have cooked up a storm inspired by Indian, Moroccan, Italian, Greek and Arab cuisines. For his first meal at the spring sessions, Karim was inspired by the geography surrounding Amman: “I thought about bringing in a Mediterranean touch and went for ingredients like anchovies, raisins, capers, a bit of salt with a hint of sweet, a bit springy I suppose.”
Invited chefs are encouraged to experiment and add their own flavor and touch to create fusion meals. Their challenge is to introduce a variety that feeds 20 people with a budget of 50 JD. “This forces you to get creative with ingredients and buy local produce, and adds to the experience of being downtown,” says Karim. “It’s challenging when you cook for strangers; you never know what taste buds you’re dealing with, it’s nerve wrecking.”
This type of immersion with the downtown area led to a chance encounter with a Sri Lankan shopper who was browsing music at a small East Asian kiosk close to our space. After a brief conversation about our dinners, we discovered that she was a cook herself and as a result, invited her also to cook during one of our sessions.
The dinners at the spring sessions are slowly becoming notorious for the good food, but more importantly, the conversations that happen around them. Dinnertime has become a time of collaboration, where everyone helps out with the preparation and cleaning up of the space. The collaborative environment has also created spin-off creative projects, such as the development of a food map of the downtown area, inviting each chef to identify where the ingredients of each meal were purchased.
It is during these times that the courtyard of the King Ghazi Hotel comes alive; the dinners transform the space into more of a home, and the participants into more of a family. This transformation is almost literal when it comes to building and forming the kitchen, when utensils, appliances and furniture are purchased almost simultaneously while the meals are being cooked.
Karim also said of his experience: “When I first heard of spring sessions, I knew I wanted to be involved. The idea behind the project is something this city is in dire need of and reviving unused spaces and turning them into artistic playgrounds refreshes the artists and their creative minds. That’s what the spring sessions meant to me.”