The Menu

Angela Dimayuga

"Biography: the Menu" was published in Active Cultures’ Digest, Issue 2, December 2019.

Image: Angela Dimayuga, Biography: The Menu, presented at Gladstone Gallery, New York, November 2019. Courtesy of Angela Dimayuga and Anicka Yi.


Angela Dimayuga is a New York-based chef. An executive chef at Mission Chinese Food New York, she helped build the restaurant early in her career, while at the same time collaborating with chefs, artists, and others. She was the founding Creative Director of Food and Culture at The Standard Hotels, where in 2017 she created No Bar, an inclusive space in the form of a new queer bar at The Standard, East Village in New York. Dimayuga is also Culinary Curator at Performance Space, New York.

For the debut of artist Anicka Yi's conceptual fragrance line, Biography, Dimayuga conceived a meal in close collaboration with the artist. Both practitioners often consider how culture is consumed and metabolized, and Dimayuga was fascinated, even before their friendship began, by Yi's approach to the sensorial, to decay, mold and bacteria, and to the body. Throughout the menu, Dimayuga signals the scents and sense of Biography—from herbal inhaler palate cleanser, to insect garnish (nodding to the ants suspended in the resin of each perfume bottle) to a cameo dish by the queer cooking collective Spiral Theory Test Kitchen. Her dishes evoke what Yi's project describes as "[positing] a future where all femmes are connected in a fluid network... disrupting the 'natural' by means of mutation and hybridized intelligence." In Yi's Beyond Skin—a AI-inflected fragrance that proposes a hypothetical, engineered female—"dark, fleshy base notes of suede and myrrh are complemented by an earthy, herbal core of indole and rose, while spicy, animalistic top notes of civet, cumin, and cloves are set off by a hint of red seaweed." The two other fragrances pay homage to historic females who persisted through male disguise: Shigenobu Twilight (cedar, yuzu, shiso leaf, black pepper, thyme, and frankincense) for Fusako Shigenobu of the Japanese Red Army, who was exiled to Lebanon and often disguised herself as a man; and Radical Hopelessness (with pink pepper, juniper, cardamom, iris, angelica root, sandalwood, and patchouli) for Hatshepsut, the second female pharaoh of Egypt. With these historic women in mind, Dimayuga reinterprets Yi's fragrance notes dish by dish, while deploying her own evocations of animal, mineral, and hybridity of taste and texture, to her own radical ends.

Active Cultures is a cultural organization that explores the convergence of food and art in contemporary life.