What comes to mind when the phrase “artistic medium” is uttered?
Oil paints, sketch pencils, pens, and clay need not be the only options. Have you considered Swiss cheese, red cabbage, strawberries, and green beans as potential candidates?
From dried beans to egg shells, food is the ultimate example of found art. Reflect for a moment on soft tomato skin, fluorescent orange rinds, or the smooth, buttery flesh of an avocado. Talented food artists use such products as a new artistic medium, embracing the natural beauty of cuisine. In this post, I will discuss two unique food artists and will also post short instructions on ways to create beautiful, simple food art at home.
If you have not seen the work of Carl Warner, a still-life photographer based out of London, England, I urge you to continue reading. Warner is known for his trademark foodscapes—landscapes made entirely of food with plenty to admire. From red cabbage oceans to garlic bulb air balloons, Warner’s food art will undoubtedly trick your vision. At first glance, Warner’s foodscapes may appear to be the sunny Italian countryside, turbulent waves on an angry sea, or a picturesque forest in early spring. A second look at the mountains, and you’ll realize you are actually examining the rough surface of a baguette. Is the image a golden sea beneath a setting sun, or the oily surface of a salmon fillet? Warner’s foodscapes use the natural qualities of each food product, paying attention to the smallest details so the landscapes seem completely natural. Be sure to view his website for more information at www.carlwarner.com.
Christel Assante, a food artist based in France, uses a very unique product to showcase her talent—eggshells. With ostrich, duck, pheasant, and quail shells, Assante uses dentist tools in a four-step process involving sketching, engraving, carving, and painting (“Light on Christel Assante: Egg Shell Carver” n.pag.).
Photo Credit: Art et Artisanat du Monde
In an interview, Assante says that the porous quality of eggshells allows for a variety of carving techniques and she affirms that tools with the least amount of vibration are the best option for the delicate nature of eggshell carving (“Light on Christel Assante: Egg Shell Carver” n.pag.). Assante’s intricate designs include owls in mid-flight, dragons, violent ocean waves, and detailed portraiture.
The work of the two food artists I’ve discussed above is magnificent. But how accessible is it for the everyday cook? If you are looking for simple ways to incorporate artistic, sophisticated elements into your dishes, I can willingly offer a suggestion.
Tomato roses are a simple, beautiful option for garnishing. Using a sharp knife, tomato roses transform a spinach or Caprese salad into an impressive culinary delight.
Here is a very helpful tutorial:
Consider serving the roses on fresh mozzarella with basil and coarse salt for a summer appetizer. Watermelon roses, though beautiful, are more elaborate, requiring special carving tools for an appropriate result. Watermelon roses may be a good option once you have mastered tomato roses.
“Light on Christel Assante: Egg Shell Carver.” Art et Artisanant du Monde. N.p. N.d. Web. 6 June 2012.