When people start playing with food no ingredient is overlooked as too humble or plain, and artists across the world seem to find bread as the perfect medium for exploring the human form.
(101 Ways to Play With Your Food, ideas #41 to 49)
Of course bakers have been shaping decorative breads for centuries, and I’m pretty sure every American kid has made dough ornaments at one point or another…but when famous fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier comes along and decides he’s going to fulfill a life long wish of running a bakery nothing short of stunning artwork is created.
The exhibit was displayed at the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art in Paris and included a number of dress and mannequin designs using bread and wicker, plus a variety of bready fashion accoutrements. The creations were produced under the direction of Gauliter by l’Equipe de France de Boulangerie.
Chocolate & Zuchinni, one of my favorite French food bloggers, was able to attend the event and posted a great review; including her taste test of a few exclusive Gauliter breads sold during the show.
It’s enough to make fashionistas and foodies fall sobbing into each others arms. Not everyone worries about clothes though…they’d rather knead a few body parts, giving new meaning to “our daily bread”.
British artist Sharon Baker’s latest creation is a life sized bread sculpture of herself. She even invited the London Dockyard’s audience to tuck in and have a taste.
Sharon isn’t the only artist creating life size bread bodies…Constanza Puenta also made a model of herself, and Thai art student Kittiwat Unarrom uses his family’s bakery to create frighteningly realistic body forms strung up slaughterhouse style. Kittiwat’s collection was displayed as his final art dissertation at Bangkok’s Silpakorn University. There’s a gallery of photos here, but be forewarned these pieces are squeamishly realistic.
Sculptor Anthony Gormley skipped the body altogether and just jumped into bed, using 8000 slices of sandwich bread…while other artists prefer to focus on doughy facial portraits, traditional life-like food designs, or simple free form abstract creations.
For a quick intro on sculpting bread check out this recipe and tutorial on PastryChef.net, or these videos from award winning baker Chef Hitz. Hitz also shares a few tips on his website Breadhitz.com.
No discussion about amazing food creations can go without mentioning traditional Japanese desserts known as wagashi.
(101 Ways to Play With Your Food, ideas #31 to 40)
Oh little hanamidango, so cute and plump…what better way to celebrate cherry blossom season!
These tiny sweets take the art of beautiful confection obsession to a whole new level. Flickr member jam343 shares a slideshow of some awe inspiring treats that he made while Blogger Lovescool came up with her own daifuku recipe. Her favorite NY shop Minamoto Kitchoan has a good wagashi faq.
The intense sweet flavors of these little desserts are meant to be paired with a slightly bitter tea, such as matcha, and are traditionally served during a Japanese tea ceremony.
Wagashi come in many flavors and shapes and often take inspiration from nature. One type (called higashi) is made from a glutinous rice flour, sugar and starch mixture and then pressed in molds to form dry sweets. My favorite Ping Mag design writers recently found a market stall in Kyoto selling vintage candy molds, including a large number of flowers and leaves.
If you live near San Francisco you can sign up for a wagashi workshop. The Urasenke tea practitioners association has collected a large number of wagashi recipes which you can view online. Including… Koshian (sweet bean paste), plum shaped Aoume, chrysanthemum like Kiku, and space age Ajisai kinton.
Toraya is Japan’s oldest confectionary company, providing the Imperial Court with many exclusive sweets. Journalist Hilary Hinds Kitasei was lucky enough to take a class with their master chefs. Her first lesson of the day was “laboriously boiling beans at exactly 50 degrees Centigrade but no higher… straining, re-boiling, and finally squeezing out all of the liquid. Then sugar is added, no less than 60 percent of the beans by weight.”
Clearly, Toraya chefs understand that to create a masterpiece the artist must know their medium.
From kitsch to the uber hip….everyone is getting in on some Play With Your Food action.
(101 Ways to Play With Your Food, ideas #17 to 30)
Gadget blogs seem to have a thing for enciting their readers to weirdness, and the latest craze has been food contests. Inspired by the mash potato mountain scene in â€œClose Encounters of the Third Kindâ€ MikeIndustries.com held an iPod food sculpture competition. Davin Risk won with his super slick and simply delicious looking Banana-Apple-Spaghetti Shuffle.
But last month Engadget.com readers truly went over the top to bake them a birthday cake in their attempt to win a hot new computer. The winning entry was a functional electronic Treo cake. Although you wouldn’t want to try and slip this baby into your pocket it’s outrageously cute nonetheless. Bonus points to Mr. Sutherland for caring enough to use cake with no transfat.
Fashion addicts should definitely dig into the fun and try their hand sculpting a scene for the Blogging Project Runway contest. The deadline is May 1st.
Of course food sculpting has been around for decades, but it never ceases to amuse and amaze.
Check out this article for a first-hand insider’s view on entering a spam carving contest. Spam art was made famous by the annual contest hosted at the now defunct Ruby Montana’s in Seattle. Unfortunately their website is no longer live and I wasn’t able to dig up any photos, but the legacy lives on with spam carving competitions popping up in just about every city
Remember that Ipod Food contest? Of course there was a little spam Shuffle.
If you love to read the International Edible Book Festival will certainly entertain…and you don’t have to worry about staining the pages while snacking. That Book of Pi certainly looks filling, although Kung Foodie fans might prefer nibbling on Masaaki Tatsumi’s rice and nori books.
But what is the most popular ingredient of master food artists around the world?
Enter one Nora Lyon, also know as the “Butter Cow Lady“. She loves working with butter, and although she’s done everything from Elvis to the Last Supper, her signature sculptures are life size dairy cows. Check out Nora doing her thing on video. Jim Victor also uses butter for sculpting along with cheese, chocolate, and even pizza dough. He’s been creating food sculptures since the mid 90′s.
Want to have a go at it?
Personally I’m a chocolate fan…and if I was going to hand out Oscar’s for food sculpture I’d have to declare artist Prudence Emma Staite the winner. Her life size chocolate rooms (all edible, even down to the lickable wall paper) are the ultimate food kitsch masterpiece. She also makes chocolate jewelry and chocolate board games like her giant chocolate Jenga.
Willy Wonka would be proud!
There’s nothing like April Fools Day to inspire the masses to think of creative ways to test their cooking fu. Whether you get off on creating unusual artistic foods or just want to be silly, here’s the first installment in my ongoing April series 101 Ways to Play With Food….
(ideas #1 to 16)
You might love it, or might hate it, but sushi has inspired a whole new level of food fun; from the original Twinkie roll recipe (by Clare Crespo) to Not Martha’s powdered donut gummi fish maki, and LJ Food Porn chocolate sushi.
Check out the super Hostess Sushi page, Alan’s Hostess sushi, and some homemade cupcake coconut sushi. There’s also the popular Rice Cripsy and Fruit Roll Up versions one, two, and three…plus a double whammy of mini muffin sushi and homemade giant fortune cookies.
If you want to pass up the corner store junk food and go gourmet you’ll definitely get some inspiration from Haagan Dazs ice cream sushi, Kooki-ku chocolate sushi, superlicious fondant sushi cupcakes (shown in pic, by Debbie Does Cakes), or dessert sushi from Toronto chef Renee Foote.