June 13, 2024

Bronx bodega basel

On the occasion of Art Basel 2024, creative agency Villa Nomad joins forces with Ghetto Gastro, the Bronx-born culinary collective by Jon Gray, Pierre Serrao, and Lester Walker, to stage the interdisciplinary pop-up BRONX BODEGA Basel. The initiative brings together food, art, design, and a series of live events at the Novartis Campus, Basel, during the course of the fair. Here, Jon Gray from Ghetto Gastro and Sarah Quan from Villa Nomad tell the Quarterly’s Wyatt Allgeier about the project.

<p>Dining room at BRONX BODEGA Basel, Novartis Campus, Basel, 2024. Photo: Ozjtabib</p>

Dining room at BRONX BODEGA Basel, Novartis Campus, Basel, 2024. Photo: Ozjtabib

Dining room at BRONX BODEGA Basel, Novartis Campus, Basel, 2024. Photo: Ozjtabib

Wyatt AllgeierCould you tell us about the genesis of this project?

Sarah QuanAt Villa Nomad, we firmly believe in the transformative power of storytelling, the unyielding drive of talent, and the critical importance of authentic human connection. Our goal with this BRONX BODEGA Basel initiative is to foster a space where local and international communities in Basel can come together, enjoy food and drink, and feel included. We have a dynamic schedule of performances to entertain guests at night and a unique culinary experience planned for everyone. Our vision is to show how communities can blend, how different industries can learn from and inspire each other, ultimately connecting on a human level.

WAJon, what was the appeal of doing a project in Basel during the art fair? You’ll be bringing New York character to Switzerland. What do you hope that visitors take away from the event?

Jon GrayArt Basel is a global convergence of creativity, innovation, and diverse cultures, making it an ideal platform to showcase the unique blend of art and culinary exploration that Ghetto Gastro represents. Bringing the character of a Bronx bodega to Switzerland offers a cultural exchange that highlights the vibrancy and authenticity of our culture. We hope our guests leave with a deeper appreciation of the Bronx’s rich culinary heritage and its influence on broader food and art movements, understanding that a bodega is not just a store but a community hub brimming with stories and flavors.

WACould you tell us about the menu for the project? What are some highlights? Are there any culinary creations for this project that are unique to this event?

JGThis menu takes us from the Bronx to Basel; we designed the menu to be a playful iteration of some modern-day classics. The team at Villa Nomad helped us push the boundaries creatively and we will be offering dishes designed specifically for this moment. Can’t give away too much, but dinner in groups is recommended.

Chefs Elif Oskan, Markus Stöckle, Pierre Serrao, Shirwin Burrowes, Jon Gray. Photo: Chris Saunders

BRONX BODEGA Basel, Novartis Campus, Basel, 2024. Photo: Ozjtabib

A dish for BRONX BODEGA Basel, Novartis Campus, Basel, 2024. Photo: Ozjtabib

WACould you speak to the collaborations with Swiss chefs Elif Oskan and Markus Stöckle? Ghetto Gastro is already a collective, so what was it like to welcome more chefs into the mix?

JGWorking with Elif and Markus has been a pleasure, to learn about the seasonality of certain ingredients and thinking about different ways to express a group narrative highlighting a beautiful collision of culture and flavor. They presented some really amazing ideas for us to build on with our storytelling. Looking forward to getting in the kitchen with them and bringing it all to life.

WAIn addition to the culinary side of the project, BRONX BODEGA Basel is collaborating with visual artists like Gab Bois, Sasha Stiles, and Johannes Gees. How did this constellation come up? 

SQWe wanted to incorporate artists from diverse backgrounds and showcase various artistic perspectives. Stiles and Gees, both seasoned explorers of text and technology, are collaborating for the first time. Their installations create a dialogue through projected messages on the façade and inside the building, challenging binaries such as public–private, physical–digital, and human–machine. Gab Bois enriches the venue with installations that play on the bodega cliché. Our intention was to make art accessible and engaging, encouraging visitors to experience it in an inclusive manner that resonates with everyone.

WAJon, how do you see the intersections between visual art and the work that you all do in cooking, community, and activism?

JGWe’re cooking with grease. It’s all about expression and sharing. We’re not activists, but we don’t have the privilege to do anything other than exist to resist. It’s what we know.

Photos: courtesy Villa Nomad

Black-and-white portrait of Wyatt Allgeier

Wyatt Allgeier is a writer and an editor for Gagosian Quarterly. He lives and works in New York City.

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