Monday, February 27, 2012

Vagabond Four will be about art: on the walls and on the plates

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Jenny Vergara and Alex Pope will bring their traveling roadshow restaurant, Vagabond, to the Nelson-Atkins Museum in March.
  • Ashford Stamper
  • Jenny Vergara and Alex Pope will bring their traveling roadshow restaurant, Vagabond, to the Nelson-Atkins Museum in March.

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When chef Alex Pope and fellow pop-up restaurant creative partner hosted their first Vagabond restaurant/art installation at the Orange Event Space on Grand Boulevard last year, they were introduced to one of their guests: Julián Zugazagoitia, the director and CEO of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. "He asked us," Vergara says, "if he could cut through the red tape that comes with hosting an outside event at the museum, if we would be interested in doing a Vagabond there. He said it attracted the kind of crowd he wanted to attract to the museum. Of course, the answer was yes."

For three nights next month — Thursday March 29;Friday, March 30; and Saturday, March 31 — Pope and Vergara will turn a space in Lens 2 of the Bloch Building into a restaurant, with one seating each night. Unlike the previous three dining events, Vagabond Four will be a slightly more formal affair: Each night's dinner will be preceded with a private tour of the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Vergara says. And Pope's menu will be influenced by many of the art treasures in the museum's collections. Vergara says tickets — priced at $100 each (including tax and gratuity) — will go on sale to the public March 1 at Brown Paper Tickets.

"For this Vagabond, we'll be using the museum's staff instead of our own servers and workers," Vergara says. "The dinner will be served in a private space; it's not one of the public galleries."

Vergara says that because of the security required in hosting an event in one of Kansas City's most iconic spaces, it added "a layer of complexity in putting everything together. The first order of business was a sensitivity to our surroundings. We have a security detail assigned to each of us and will be escorted by a security person every time we leave the Lens 2 space. And that's a good thing. We're using the Rozzelle Court kitchen, and the museum is a very big place. You need someone to tell you where to go!"

Each of the past three Vagabond events have been held in completely different venues ("That's part of our mission," Vergara says) with totally different menus. Last month's event, Vagabond Three, was designed with a Moroccan market theme, "Saffron Street," and held in a party space in the Power & Light District.

"That was a more casual concept," Vergara says. "For the Nelson-Atkins Museum, we're appealing to a different sensibility: the fine arts patron. What I'm hoping is that we can represent some of the museum's great pieces in a way that's not stuffy. We're going for playful and fun — and delicious."

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