You say to-may-to. I say to-mah-to. Croc vs gator? Sometimes geography and culture are the thin dividing line for understanding the nuances of the world around us. In their most recent themed art dinner party, Australian culinary provocateurs Otis Armada invaded North Brooklyn Farms for a four-course meal examining the Australian take on American dining. Called “What A Croc!” the meal combined culinary experimentation with art objects and set design by Mathery Studio.

Top: Orange “swamps” table settings were designed by Mathery Studio. Bottom: Emma Orlow created kale bouquets using crocs and kale from the farm. All images by Nadeemy Betros

“What a Croc,” was organized their tagline of, “a thick-skinned event of American eating and Australian drinking.” The diners started with a “walking taco,” an ironic nod to American parties with a keg (beer jello art installation included), then continued onto kale 6 ways (complementary with our crocs shoes that we turned into kale bouquets), then TV dinner in which tongs were given to each guest to take them out of their element and force them to have a claw-like croc experience when interacting with their trays. Finally, the meal ended with a play on Ambrosia dessert and signature fortune cookies created for the event.

TV dinner with tongs as utensils, for each individual to examine the way that they eat, by forcing them to sort of grab for food from the central bowls in a Hungry, Hungry Hippo-style.

Each course was paired with an Australian natural wine selected by frequent Otis Armada collaborator Gus Carmichael. “Our wide-spread land of micro-climates and rich varying soil ranges has much to offer,” the artists explain. “Further, the young Aussie wine-maker isn’t one to be shackled by appellation, history, or big-batch commercialization. During the course of the experience we will be informing diners on the fruit, the processes and the differences they may notice with our ‘croc juice.'”

As the dinner was an examination of Australian vs. American dining, all very ironic (hence the kale, and crocs). During cocktail hour there was a keg and beer Jell-o sculpture provided for guests to start partying.

Since 2014, the Melbourne-based collective of Laura Clauscen, Lauren Stephens and Fred Mora have been using themed dinners as a vehicle for investigating the ritual and art of communal dining. In 2016, their Otis.Brutal dinner featured wearable tarp aprons, bespoke tableware and a curated soundtrack set in a Brutalist warehouse on the occasion of a month-long celebration of the mid-century architectural style. And their seasonal “bootleg dining experiences” highlight ingredients and a sense of place through their site specific installations and unexpected locations.