New Art-Inspired Cakes at the Re-Opened SFMoma has Blue Bottle Pastry Chef Pissed

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We are all excited that our bay-bellwether SFMoma has relaunched after 4 years of renovations and redesigns to its premises — All but one person, however, is excited about the museum’s newest line of art-inspired confections still being served in their cafes.

You know the sweets: In particular, the above Mondrian cake. The cake that has seen the likes of social media from every angle — whether you’re digging into it mouth first or finding the right light to snap for your Insta, this famous cake face has made its rounds through the internet and back being creditably acclaimed as a “must-eat” in SF for many years.

Though when MOMA didn’t renew it’s catering contract with Blue Bottle Pastries, we were left with the question of what would happen to the equally as famous bite? According to the Blue Bottle pastry chef, Caitlin Freeman, who invented them, they’re back in the museum while she’s on the sidelines, having been recreated in a “direct rip-off.” Incredibly ironic that pastry art has been ripped off. When life imitates… pastry art.

Cafe 5, the newly appointed caterers, the fifth-floor restaurant in the reopened SFMOMA, are making their own tribute cakes, though notably not the Mondrian item. The pastry chef says she’s not just insulted, but injured — “It’s so tacky and so gross,” Freeman tells the Chronicle, “but there’s kind of nothing I can do about it.”

One commenter from SFist’s report stated that, “There’s a big gap between legal and moral.  If you’ve been running a popular attraction for years, and your landlord evicts you & puts in a replica that sells the exact same attraction, that landlord may not have broken the law but is almost certainly an asshole.“

McCalls Catering, that operates Cafe 5, and the new “art-inspired cakes” include a banana peanut butter cake named after Warhol’s “Triple Elvis” and a layer cake that takes its name and (slight appearance) from Ellsworth Kelly’s “Gaza.” Freeman says she is so offended that “It makes me not want to go back to the museum.“

Currently on SFMoma’s roster of caterers include Sightglass coffee on the third floor, In Situ planning to open on the ground level, and Cafe 5 on the 5th floor serving the “California-fusion mindset” of eating.

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(Blue Bottle Coffee founder James Freeman and his wife Caitlin Williams Freeman.)

What are your thoughts of Cafe 5′s newest art creations? Yay or nay? Do you think they crossed the “artistic” line?


Written by Anthony Rogers, Photos provided by SFMoma and Carla Befera Public Relations  — Get more food coverage daily.