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The Naked Buffet

Avocado Catering presents culinary vice virtue

by Leila Peacock

Nyotaimori, the ancient Japanese practice of eating sushi off a nearly naked woman's body, is as tantalizing as it is daring. Driven by a desire to push the boundaries of culinary experience, and working with a high measure of style, wit and eclectic panache, Montreal-based catering company Avocado will be drawing inspiration from this art, as they lay out a feast for party-goers at Maisonneuve Magazine's 3rd annual {Not Just} Art Event.

A whole year of planning can go into one of Avocado's nights, which have featured some awe-inspiring gastronomic centrepieces-chandeliers hanging from trees and carpets of flowers hovering above the heads of dinner guests. Their themed parties range from "1001 Nights," for which they re-created a Bedouin banquet with hookahs, henna and a decor designed to give the intimate, exotic feel of a Moroccan souk-to the climax of a rave, in which a fleet of waiters choreographed their presentation of strawberries to House music. Avocado even counts a dinner at the prime minister's residence among its many storied feasts.

Avocado creative director François Dussault says his principal motivation is the desire to elevate food, and the style in which it is enjoyed, to an art form; he sees service as a well-orchestrated performance. His role is that of designer, choreographer, magician even, in interpreting and executing the gourmet fantasies of his clients.

François Dussault and Michael Linnington formally began catering events five years ago from their base in the café for the École du barreau on St. Laurent Boulevard in Montreal, where students studying for their bar exam mingle with lawyers. The name Avocado comes from avocat-the French word for "lawyer." In addition to running the café, they design and cater thirty to forty private events a year. These events range in size from ten to three thousand guests.

The food, never overshadowed by its resplendent setting, is similarly decadent. Stop reading if you're feeling even mildly peckish! Avocado offers a wide range of complex concoctions, from the daring-foie gras layered with black figs, ostrich croutons with sage and Madagascar pepper, honey-whiskey scallops and oysters with salmon caviar and pepper confetti-to the delightfully playful-tuna tartare with mango, coriander and curry; veal rib with juniper berry, oyster mushrooms, fennel and red-wine truffle sauce alongside grilled shrimp with ginger and blood oranges.

At Maisonneuve's 3rd annual garden-themed {Not Just} Art Event on April 21, 2005, Avocado will be elevating food to performance art. Playing on the idea of forbidden fruit in the Garden of Good and Evil, Avocado will be creating a buffet inspired by nyotaimori, with a male and female twist. This is the first time that Montrealers will enjoy such a sinful delicacy, in a true mix of carnal and culinary appetites. This extravagant spectacle epitomizes Avocado's philosophy of creating events that imprint a lasting echo in the memories and the taste buds of revellers in attendance.

Indulge in culinary vice and virtue at Maisonneuve's {Not Just} Art Event, a party unlike any other, on Thursday, 21 April, 2005, at 8 PM. For more information about Avocado, please visit their website at www.avocadonet.com

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