Our charge was to design and construct the Slow on the Go, or “slow fast food”, component of the event. This section, which shared Civic Center Plaza with the Victory Garden and the Marketplace, required booths for 14 vendors and food artisans to prepare and serve high-end street food on-site, as well as consideration for customers to be able to pause and eat together. The challenges included working within a restricted budget, fire-department and city restrictions, minimizing materials waste, and accommodating vendor and customer needs and comfort. Additionally, we had an educational goal, the desire to clearly convey information about the pertinent features of the food and the vendors to the Slow Food Nation event.
In keeping with the event’s overall “Come to the Table” theme, we developed the concept of an “Infinite Table”, one that would accommodate a variety of uses and an unending flow of guests. As “infinite” implies no boundaries, such a table would invite and encourage everyone to join in the celebration. The table was both physically and conceptually open and required no ticket or payment to use and enjoy. In its fluctuating use as work counter, sales counter, and dining counter, the table reinforced the interconnectedness of all aspects of the food system.
Relatively invisible scaffolding supported the broad planks of the infinite table as well as the undulating ribbon of canopy suspended above, which served as a beacon, indicating and echoing the extent of the infinite table. The bright orange canopy was printed with Slow Food Nation’s iconic graphic, and along its length, portrayed thousands of people coming to the table. The open yet intimate structure of each booth supported the event’s goals of transparency (making the cooking process visible and accessible), education (understanding where your food comes from), and community (the interaction between vendors and consumers as they cooked and ate together).