Art melding with food at Kool Bean event

Kool Bean Bistro has built up a reputation for its flavorful coffees, intimate dining and cozy atmosphere. Next week, they’re stepping it up with “Fused for Flavor,” where a one-of-a-kind fiber-art collection from local artist Jill M. Thomas will inspire food and wine pairings for an evening of culinary and artistic creativity.

“I’ve only recently started doing shows the past few years,” said Thomas, “and I’m very excited about this one.”

With a background in watercolors, Thomas has a strong knowledge of the arts, but it wasn’t until years into her work as an artist when she delved into fabric as her medium.

“I saw what people were doing with fabric,” she said, “and my mother had always been a quilter, so I thought I would give it a try.”

It took no time to get fully involved in the medium, as she quickly fell in love with the colors, patterns and possibilities. Her artwork represents a fabric collage or mosaic that is actually difficult to identify as such until viewed close-up.

“It’s funny,” she said. “It’s easy to mistake my art for watercolors from a distance. Then, when you look at it up-close, you start to make out the stitches and the individual pieces that are sewn together.”

Kool Bean owner and manager Nancy Crass is known for incorporating local talent into her special events.

“We had spoken before,” said Crass, “and we discussed a forum for her artwork, but then we got a little creative. I thought it’d be interesting to pair food and wine with the texture of her art.”

A Grecian piece, for example, will be fused with a Greek-style appetizer and a wine from the region.

“We’re trying to expose both artistry and culinary likenesses,” Crass added.

Kool Bean Chef Ron Burkle has spent dedicated hours to forming appropriate dishes with each of Thomas’ seven featured works.

“Ron is loaded with ideas,” said Crass. “He has worked here for quite some time, and he’s very talented at what he does. We have a very diverse kitchen staff, and it’s a really nice relationship.”

“Fused for Flavor” is the first time Thomas has ever featured her work along with food and wine pairings, but she’s eager for the exposure.

“I started getting involved with the local art scene when I moved here,” said Thomas, who relocated to the Delaware shore from Buffalo, N.Y., “and it’s amazing the people you meet. There is an unbelievable appreciation and talent though this area.”

Last year, she was one of 18 artists featured in the SouthEastern Delaware Artists Studio Tour (SEDAST). Among her work at next week’s event, she plans to debt a black-and-white piece that was only in the works during last year’s SEDAST.

“I’m really excited to bring that out,” she noted.

For more information or to purchase a ticket to “Fused for Flavor,” stop into Kool Bean Bistro, located at 111 Atlantic Avenue in Ocean View, or call

(302) 541-5377.