FOOD was an artist-run restaurant in SoHo, New York founded by artists Carol Goodden, Tina Girouard and Gordon Matta-Clark. It was considered one of the first important restaurants in SoHo where artists, especially those who were later involved in Avalanche magazine and the Anarchitecture group, could meet and enjoy food together. FOOD was considered to be both a business and an artistic "intervention in an urban setting." It has also been called a "landmark that still resonates in the history and mythology of SoHo in the 1970s."
FOOD was said to inspire others who create food art, or work in the field of relational art." Many famous artists and performers, such as Donald Judd, Robert Rauschenberg and John Cage created meals at FOOD. The cooking and the meals themselves were a kind of performance art, especially the soup. Gooden felt that soup could be used as a sort of "painting" for the table. Matta-Clark developed a meal that he based on bones called Matta-Bones which cost $4. After the meal, the bones were used to create necklaces for the diner to wear. Matta-Bones once served over 100 people and after they ate, Richard Peck scrubbed the bones clean in the kitchen after which Hisachika Takahashi, an assistant to Rauschenberg and a jeweler, drilled holes in the bones so that they could be strung onto rope. Another unusual meal was made of living brine shrimp swimming in egg whites called Alive. Perhaps the most unusual dinner was never realized: Mark di Suvero wished to serve meals through the windows of the restaurant using a crane and directing diners to eat with tools such as screwdrivers and hammers.
The restaurant lasted not quite three years in its original incarnation, as the artists who cooked in it and who ran it, more as a utopian enterprise than a business, burned out or moved on. But many of the vaguely countercultural ideas fostered there — fresh and seasonal foods, a geographically catholic menu, a kitchen fully open to the dining room, cooking as a kind of performance — have now become so ingrained in restaurants in New York and other large cities that it is hard to remember a time when such a place would have seemed almost extraterrestrial.
The restaurant, for example, served sushi and sashimi at a time when they were still not widely seen in New York. (It was the idea of Hisachika Takahashi, assistant to the artist Robert Rauschenberg; one early menu simply described it as raw mackerel with wasabi sauce.) The same menu featured ceviche, borscht, rabbit stew with prunes, stuffed tongue Creole and a fig, garlic and anchovy salad. Big communal dishes of chopped parsley and fresh butter were kept on the counters. Bakers came down from the Mad Brook Farm commune in Vermont to make the bread. Two nights a week the cooks — modern dancers by trade — were vegetarians and so was the menu, a kind of flexibility that was Food’s trademark. At least once the owners opened one of the restaurant’s large windows onto the street and sold stalks of sugarcane to passers-by.