Let’s Talk about Food Art: Interview with Shannon Mazzei
Have you ever tried food art? Instagram is flourishing with inspiration and ideas, if you want to try. We connected with Shannon Mazzei, creative mind and hands behind the Instagram account @foodartfun.
Shannon lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband and two kids, one seven year-old boy and a girl of three, and has extensive culinary background: she was a chef for several years, and now works as a registered diet technician in a residential eating disorder facility. You’d think she’d have enough of food, so we asked her how it all started:
“I started just on Saturdays, a breakfast thing for my little girl because we have fun together, she likes to be in the kitchen, she likes to help, and I started experimenting with really basic ideas and then I fell in love with it, I got completely into it”.
Food art is a hobby, like any other, that allows you to take some time for yourself and outlet your creativity. As Shannon pointed out: “It really does become a meditative thing, where you can focus on the project and not think about the kids, or the house or the job and I love that aspect of it, to have my ‘me’ time”
It is, of course, also a creative activity that you can share with your kids: “When the kids are home they want to come and help, they want to eat, they want to do things… we put the Trolls soundtrack on and we have fun!”
So if you’re giving food art a go, put some tunes on and let your kids help you… or boss you around, because, as Shannon warned us “kids love to tell you what to do”. Mixing things up is a task that most kids can master, for example the pancake batter, or simply decorating and assembling things together will do if your little sous-chef is still very young.
This kind of activity is also good for stimulating kids’ creativity and it will show them the process of creating something from scratch, by putting time and effort into it: “When they see me make these they see the time that it actually takes to have a finished product.”
If you’re scared about the equipment, let us stop you right there! We enquired on whether you need to purchase a whole set of tools to do food art but, luckily, you’ll be ok with a sharp paring knife. We laughed because: “My husband bought me a new paring knife and you would have thought the man had bought me a cruise! I was so excited about my paring knife!”. If you get into it you, you can upgrade to a carving set, while you can let the kids use butter knives, plastic knives or cookie cutters.
We were eager to know whether food art makes it easier to get kids to eat fruit and veggies: “My kids definitely eat more fruit every time I make food art. I always had fruit and vegetables in the house, now we always have a variety, we have kiwis, we have mangos and we always have blueberries and neither of my kids like blueberries, they hate them! […] So here I am carving these little blueberries and they will pick them off, but they’ll eat all the other fruit!”
So if you were looking for a fun trick to get more vitamins in your little sous-chef stomach, there you have it!
One of our fears would be to get too attached to our cute creations to be able to eat them and Shannon admitted she had felt that way with one of her recent creations: “I recently made a Lady Glitter Sparkles and my son came home from school and started eating her watermelon body and I was like [insert sighs of despair from both of us!]… But, you know, that’s what they’re for and it’s great that he loves watermelon after school!”
We also asked what her favourite artworks are, in a gallery that looks full of stunning pictures: “It’s probably the Lady Glitter Sparkles, I’ve never done anything like that before and I used a lot of different techniques. So her and the little lion were probably my favourite […] And I also like the unicorn she is part of my series now with unicorns and rainbows and fun… […] My daughter is thrilled. She’s like ‘aw, rainbows and butterflies and unicorns!’”
That’s where we gushed!
That is because Shannon also wants to convey a positive message to the world: this series tackles the issues of equality and the importance of how you treat other people, a conversation that Shannon is passionate about.
She highlighted that: “all the inspiration really comes from what I want to project in the world and how I want people to think about things differently and I write a lot of my thoughts, about equality on my posts. Food is definitely part of our culture and it’s a huge unifier, something that everybody can agree on.”
One final pro tip: look for inspiration online! “There’s so many people and it’s just what you find comfort with; it just takes time to find your own angle, like with anything you do. I use pictures, too, I look on the internet for cartoon pictures that help, for shaping and details because I’m not an actual artist; I visualize what I want to do but then I need help with …how far apart should the eyes be, so they look normal!”
Well, we can’t wait to see what’s coming up in her gallery, regardless of how far apart the eyes will be! You can follow Shannon on Instagram as @foodartfun!
All picture and artworks by Shannon Mazzei.