An Edible Approach To Invasive Species – Eat The Problem

When faced with an overwhelming problem, people often try to pretend it doesn’t exist, or maybe procrasti-bake some muffins to distract from the issue at hand. For artist Kirsha Kaechele, the solution to combating pervasive invasive species in Tasmania is more direct – she proposes that we ‘eat the problem.’

This week, Mona launch their surrealist cookbook, a 544-page gourmet, glamorous and gothic response to a serious environmental issue. Today we preview this unique publication, ahead of the Eat the Problem exhibition, opening April 13th at Mona in Hobart.

Miriam McGarry

‘Eat the Problem’ – a new book and exhibition curated by Kirsha Kaechele. Water buffalo tongue, sauce piquant by Mark Wilsdon. Photo – Mitch Osborne.

Minimalism meets rainbow in the ‘Eat the Problem’ 544 page publication. Photo – Jesse Hunniford.

Making invasive species delicious with Kirsha Kaechele. Photo – Jesse Hunniford.

Monochrome spreads from Eat the Problem by Kirsha Kaechele  Photo –  Jesse Hunniford.



Sweet and sour cane toad legs by David McMahon from Eat the Problem by Kirsha Kaechele . Photo – Mitch Osborne.

The brief to chefs was to produce a monochrome recipe that turned a pest into a delicious dish. Starfish on a stick by Kirsha Kaechele and Vince Trim. Photo – Mitch Osborne.

Prickly pear fruit margarita by Martha Ortiz and Paloma Senosiain (left) and Rabbit saddle, potatoes, cauliflower comté, turnips by Vince Trim (right). Photo – Rémi Chauvin.

The book is both indulgent, absurd and minimal. A published paradox! Photo – Jesse Hunniford.

Blue isn’t a conventional food colour, but there is nothing normal about ‘Eat the Problem.’ Photo – Jesse Hunniford.

When briefing graphic designer Matthew Walker on the aesthetics and intentions of the book, artist Kirsha Kaechele requested a casual ‘blend of illuminated manuscript, ancient maps, Ram Dam’s Be Here Now, Dali’s etchings, and Chanel.’ It also needed to be rainbow, and  ‘hard-core minimalist.’

What has emerged from this intense minimalist and materialistic contradiction is a sprawling, rich and complex book that Kirsha describes as ‘the accommodation of a paradox!’ For the designer, it produced a considerable headache, and a sublime aesthetic outcome!

The concept behind Eat the Problem is to transform a flaw (invasive species) into a feature (art and delicious food) – underscored with Mona’s surrealism, gore and beauty. Kirsha (who, incidentally, is married to David Walsh, Mona’s infamous founder and owner) invited famous chefs to create a recipe that uses an invasive species, with the only parameters that it must be a monochrome dish. ‘Any invasive species you like, but it has to be all one colour’ she describes. Recipes from the likes of Shannon Bennett and Tetsuya Wakuda are accompanied by essays, artworks, scientific discussion and philosophical musings from Tim Minchin, James Turrell, Marina Abramović and Yves Klein. This is no road-kill stew situation!

The terrifying and unnervingly beautiful culinary creations are presented on custom made ceramics from Tasmanian couple Nana Bayer and Zsolf Faludi of Studio Zona (known as the ‘ceramics wizards’), with cutlery designed by Kirsha and Natalie Holtsbaum. Kirsha explains ‘the designs all draw on the geometries of nature – mitosis and reproductive signifiers – all distilled through minimalism.’

The dishes are provocative, but Kirsha assures us, also delicious. She explains that ‘a lot of the chefs wanted to work with sea urchin – a huge pest in Tasmania’s waters – because it is such a delicacy.’ Mona has a well-established history of challenging culinary experiences, where the food is ‘conceptual and, of course, it is art.’

If the combination of aesthetics, environment and gastronomy has whet your taste-buds, an accompanying multi-disciplinary installation of Eat the Problem will be exhibited at Mona next month.

Eat the Problem
13th April – 2nd September 
Museum of Old and New Art
Berriedale, Tasmania 

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