A Revamped CREATE Boston Returns With a New Location & Expanded Focus
CREATE Boston returns a little early this year with a new location, new roster of talent, and the glint of national expansion on the mind.
A LOT OF EVENTS IN TOWN ALL FEEL AND LOOK LIKE THE OTHERS.
Tavern Road owner Louis DiBiccari (above), who has been executing the local artist, bartender, and chef spotlight event since its inception, is stepping up the April 7 event by way of a co-branded three-day festival, titled Bespoke at SOWA. DiBiccari says Brady Lowe of Cochon 555, who had become a fan of what he was doing with CREATE, reached out and wanted them to partner up, as well as lay the groundwork for what could become an annual weekend of festivals.
“It’s basically a powerhouse open market with vendors from all over New England,” says DiBiccari of the new SOWA Power Station-based event, adding that in addition to local culinary, cocktail, and artistic talent assembled (where each team works in tandem to create a singular vision across food, beverages, and visual/immersive art), they have a chef’s panel discussing hot-button issues like race and inequality in the workplace, and how immigration reform is affecting the restaurant industry among other topics.
But that’s not to say it’s been a smooth road to 2017.
“The biggest challenge was moving it from a Sunday, when we normally hold it, to a Friday night for this year,” he says. “It’s been a battle to line up chefs, which is understandable as they typically can’t get away on a Friday night. Bartenders too. This was the first year had all artists before chefs and bartenders lined up. And normally we have a whole year in between events, but when we were approached to be part of the Bespoke SOWA weekend, it was a challenge we wanted to try.”
DiBiccari says he’s interested in aligning the event more directly with the national Cochon tour, which has been a smash hit since hitting the food scene in 2008, as he’s eyeballing the potential for bringing CREATE’s ethos of hyping under-covered or cutting edge chefs, barkeeps, and the artistic community, the latter often working within the restaurant industry to pay the bills while they try to establish themselves.
“My mission from day one was to have a showcase that leveled the playing field between chefs, artists, and music on a local level," says DiBiccari. "When I talk to artists after they’ve worked with us, they say it has led to people coming to their studios and galleries to buy their art. That’s what it’s about.”
The April CREATE has a lineup featuring local culinary and bar talent from the likes of Asta, L’Espalier, BISq, Little Donkey, Deep Ellum, The Baldwin Bar and more. Besides beats being provided TJ Connelly (who spins for the Red Sox and the Patriots) and live music, there will be a live vintage sneaker installment from Sneakerpimps, a national touring music and art company.
“I want something unique and I want more events in Boston to feel hip, culturally relevant, and cool,” says DiBiccari. “A lot of events in town all feel and look like the others. And this year, with the concrete and brick and wood of SOWA, the nature of event leaves it up to the teams to change the space. Once they go in and set up, the space transforms. It’s alive.”
One of the artists participating this round is Jamsketch, who created the touching piece in honor of former Tavern Road bartender Ryan McGrale who tragically passed away in 2015. For DiBicari, putting the spotlight on a local artist like him in an effort to expose and elevate undiscovered talent to a wider audience is at the core of what CREATE aims to do. “Jamal (Jamsketch) was the door guy at Eastern Standard for ages. I thought it was fascinating that for years everyone in the industry knew him as the lovable, awesome door guy, and then when everyone saw the piece he did on Ryan they made the connection that he was also an incredibly talented artist.”
DiBiccari says there will always be a Boston CREATE as this is its home, but if the event can start popping up in other states on the national scene, then all the better, as he’s seen what it can do for the culinary talent and the local artists here in the Hub.
“I’m a very lucky guy and I discovered what I wanted and made a career of it early on,” says DiBiccari. “Artists aren’t as lucky and I’m trying to learn more about how that works for them, and if events like CREATE and more come along to highlight them, maybe their luck changes a little.”