The Delicacy of the Hand

Chef Nuno Mendes and Designer Julia Muggenburg Concoct a Surreal Shoot for The Gourmand Journal

Translucent potato noodles, rich purple beetroot and cured salmon sushi mingle with delectable accessories in this preview from the culinary title The Gourmand’s second issue, due out later this month. The vibrant shoot took place at the London home of German-born jewelry designer and Julia Muggenburg, who in addition to modeling and providing the rings for the composition, raided her wardrobe for brightly colored, multi-textured clothing with which to compliment the dishes, devised by Michelin-starred chef Nuno Mendes. “Sushi often has this quite surreal and shiny surface texture, so to have this crazy leather jacket with it was just something that immediately worked,” says Belmacz founder Muggenburg. The concept was a shared passion between her, stylist Annette Masterman and the photographer Amber Rowlands, with the trio enlisting Mendes, followed by the Cowshed who provided the nail art. In the back of their minds was the infamous “Chicken and Jewelry” shoot that Helmut Newton did for Paris Vogue in the 90s, when a model pulled apart a chicken while wearing couture baubles.  “Here, you see only hands,” Muggenberg explains. “But they say so much.” We caught up with Nuno Mendes to hear his thoughts on preparing food fit for a fashion shoot.

How did you take a culinary approach to a style shoot?
I wanted to both mimic and contrast with Julia’s incredible wardrobe and jewelry. For me it is a delicate and beautiful thing—it is dainty and I wanted to showcase food in the same way. Like food, it is a garnish that we apply to the body in the same way that we use ingredients to decorate dishes and so we wanted to continue with this same idea—we garnish to extend its value. 

How much preparation did it take?
It is easy to get carried away but we quickly realised that less was definitely more. I chose simple yet strong ingredients either in shape, texture or color and used these striking yet natural elements to do the talking.  Because of the visual nature, everything had to be perfect, so each ingredient had to be as vibrant and fresh as possible.

Do you feel like an artist, as well as a chef?
Yes I do. We also try to create a singular experience, one is that reflective of who we are and one that inspires. Of course, cooking starts with technique and the knowledge of the ingredients you are working with—but it is also a very creative medium. We want to make something unique that people can’t find anywhere else.

The Gourmand will hit newsstands internationally on December 18.

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    Fashion Editor for Elle China

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