Simon SmithOn Food Art | 0 Comments
CELEBRATED BRITISH CHEF, FOOD STYLIST AND MARGARINE SCULPTOR SIMON SMITH DISCUSSES FOOD ART WITH EDE ONLINE
Food art is a way of personalising a meal for an individual client and taking presentation to the next level. We are all familiar with the ‘garnished plate’ but a work of art as a centrepiece can add the “Wow” factor.
There are many forms of food art and most people are familiar with ice sculpture. Food can, however, be sculpted and moulded in many forms. Margarine, chocolate, cheese, jelly and whole landscapes made from vegetables and fish skins.
There are those who have started life as chefs who need a degree of artistic ability and then train in further mediums to become specialists in a particular field. There are those who start life as artists and then move to working with food.
The value of this is that a piece can be made for a specific event to display the passions of a client. I have , for example, been commissioned to make Ferraris, hunting falcons, an aeroplane for British Airways, Scooby Doo and Marg Simpson out of margarine. These pieces can lend a focal point to any buffet. The most bizarre that I have seen was a life size model of a horse made from chocolate as a birthday present for a chap who owned a racing stud. I have also seen a life size Formula one McLaren racing car made from ice for the launch of their new car for a season. Inevitably there is a price to pay for such pieces as the work involved is immense and often a large amount of research. As food items they never have an external armature and this has restraints in the design stage but the effect is usually stunning. The downside is that as we are dealing with food there is a shelf life element that must be considered. Often a piece has to be made for a specific event and weather can play a major role. For example, chocolate and ice works hate the heat, sugar works hate humidity but strangely margarine is more stable than most people expect.
Most food artists tend to have their own favourite subjects. Mine tends to be animals as I love the movement and muscular tones that can be achieved with the use of shadows. The human form is a favourite subject of many customers, be it a bust of their loved one or a character from Star Wars. The only limitation is your imagination really. Any food artist will love to be challenged and have the boundaries of their skill stretched. I know I, and I suspect many others, have had some spectacular failures. The aeroplane that I did for BA had to be transported to the British Embassy in Vienna in a van. On the way there the van was in an accident and the model looked like a plane crash. Fortunately I was able to repair it at the other end as I always allow for such things. Transportation is one of the biggest problems as most pieces are unstable and need a certain temperature.
So why do we do it? The satisfaction can be immense when it comes together. Sometimes the fee charged can be worthwhile but rarely represents the amount of work that goes in to a one off piece that more often than not ends up in the bin. It has to be a hobby, a passion and a challenge. It amazes the people who see it first hand and can light up a special occasion.