Chef Tiberio Simone's art is a medium in which his love and vision of food, sensuality, and life come together. He uses the naked human body as his canvas. Together with photographer Matt Freedman, Simone released his first book titled “La Figa: Visions Of Food And Form” in June.
Chef Tiberio Simone uses the human body as his canvas
By Jana Jack, UW News Lab
Crown Hill resident Chef Tierio Simone designs masterpieces on the naked human body with fresh edible ingredients, trying to expose America to the difference between sensuality and sexuality.
“We need to create an environment in America in which sensuality is not confused with sexuality, so we can all enjoy freedom of expression that is based in context and meaning instead of an unhealthy and negative obsession with sex,” Simone said.
In June, Simone released his first book. Titled “La Figa: Visions Of Food And Form”, the book is a collaboration with photographer Matt Freedman and is filled with over 20 recipes, 160 sensual photographs, and 40 essays about food, love, and life.
The food in his art acts as an excuse to show nudity, as Simone stresses the idea that America’s leading taboos are nudity, touch and food.
“Some people find my work disgusting. I struggle with that,” said Simone.
“Tiberio produces art in the same way he produces conversation: without the polite filters that the rest of us are burdened with. Some people may find that disgusting, but I find that refreshing,” said Filmmaker Dan McComb, who produced a short documentary on Simone’s live art. “We have an unnatural prohibition against the natural human body. People like Tiberio get thrown into a sort of libidinous limbo in which we at once want everyone to be sexier but don't want to acknowledge our own interest in sexuality.”
Originally from Neviano, southeast Italy, Simone said he has always been creative. Love brought him to Seattle where he joined the restaurant industry and thrived.
Simone’s natural ability to cook turned into passion, and he excelled. In 1995, while a pastry chef at the Four Seasons Hotel, he won the James Beard Award.
Now, at 43, he’s the owner of La Figa Catering, serving events up to 300 people with personalized menu, custom made desserts, weddings, corporate events, and more.
His art became a medium in which his love and vision of food, sensuality, and life could come together.
He said that through his sexuality and exploring people, shapes, colors, and taste he began to understand the connection between people and beauty.
“His art work, to me, just looks like a natural extension of the passion for life and love that defines him,” said Alyssa Royse, Simone’s friend and one of his first models for his book.
In the book, Royse is covered in balsamic-dipped strawberries that stuck to her skin in a way she described as pure and natural sensuality, as well incredibly fun.
“[Their art] is the kind of intimate awakening that can bring people to peace and compassion in a very organic way. By simply becoming comfortable with the naturally delicious relationship we can have with our senses, ourselves and each other,” Royse said.
With his dedication to his talent, his personality, and unique ideas, his friends say Simone has all the ingredients for more success.
“He has a vital grace that we all need. I'm not convinced that the rest of the world is ready for him, but I do know that the world needs people like him,” said Royse. “Hopefully, with enough exposure, guards will get lowered and we can all enjoy the natural passion that is Tiberio and his work.”
Simone said he is eager to spread his art nationally and is willing to follow where his art leads him.
“[Seattle] is a great place to start, but I need to take my book, my art, and my shows around the country,” he said.
Earlier this fall, Simone went to Hawaii where he promoted his book, and created his art on the beach. He will go to Miami Beach, Fla., in December for an art show that has been proclaimed as the most prestigious art show in the Americas on their website.
“It’s insane. So much art going on. I’m going to take some of my books. You never know who you will meet,” Simone said.
Simone’s next local show will take place Wednesday, Dec.7, at Ignite Seattle at the King Cat Theater. Simone will be also presenting at the Gingerbread Lane event at Hilton Hotel Bellevue where local chefs, architects, and businesses make premier creations.