Chef Andrea Murdoch making flatbreads next to large ceramic oven outside the museum

Q&A with Chef Andrea Murdoch

Andrea Murdoch outside in front of leafy palms

Photo courtesy of Andrea Murdoch

How did you get involved with this project?

I was approached by the museum to work with Gabriel Chaile to activate his oven and I was really excited about the opportunity. I met with Gabriel, and in our discussion, he told me that even though this specific oven is a “self-portrait” he has titled all his other ovens after women, as Indigenous culture is matriarchal. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to cook with the oven. It's not a traditional oven as it is his interpretation of an oven, but it is made from clay. We both are approaching this project through our Indigenous backgrounds and making new interpretation through that.

What will you be doing for the oven activations?

I will be making an Andean potato flatbread, and this is inspired by the fact that potatoes originated in the Andes of Peru. My personal Indigeneity we believe is from the western side of Venezuela. The flatbread is like an arepa, except potato-based instead of corn- based, and is my version of an Andean potato flatbread. It will be topped with mushrooms and dandelion root, which are free of allergens and all ingredients are naturally sourced.

What is the importance of food to you?

Food itself starts conversations. No matter who you are, you need food. I hope that these activations will start conservations about where our food comes from and how we get it. We, as a human race, are doing damaging things to food systems and we must be more conscientious about how we get our food.

What do you hope people will get out of these activations?

Knowledge being shared and people learning things they did not know before. I have my own catering and education company and I am very conscientious about the work I take on and accept. I want people to be able to learn more about where food comes from in terms of both place and culture. For example, quinoa is such a highly valued crop to the Andean people that it is the only plant to be offered an animal sacrifice in the hopes of a good harvest. These are facts that a lot of people do not know about and so opportunities like this help to educate them about where food comes from.

What are you most excited about this project?

I am excited to see all these different cultural aspects mixing together, with both Gabriel’s and my background. Everything is connected and has importance, including plants. We have plant relatives and animal relatives, and we need to view them as not being lesser than humans. I hope that people will come away with a stronger sense of that connection, that network and a deeper understanding of coexisting respectfully in this world.