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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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  • MOST SHARED IN Gastronomy
    MOST SHARED IN Gastronomy

    Peter Gilmore: Coral Garden

    The Australian Chef Translates the Spirit of the Barrier’s Natural Beauty Onto the Plate

    Multimedia artists Natasha Subramaniam and Alisa Lapidus’s enchanting short captures chef Peter Gilmore explaining how his “Coral Garden” dish was inspired by the colorful splendor of the Australian reef. Known for the artful, natural cuisine he pioneers at his restaurant Quay overlooking Sydney Harbor, Gilmore has won a slew of accolades for the establishment since taking over in 2001, and last year won Best Restaurant in Australia in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards. “I’m inspired by the natural world and diversity––and I seek a harmony and purity in my food through the use of texture, flavor and composition,” says the chef, who drew on memories of childhood explorations of rock pools and a recent snorkeling holiday to create the undulating layers of white fungi mushroom, tapioca and octopus coral in the dish. Working with the seasons, the chef sources around 90% of his produce from within Australia, making a feature of native fish varieties such as flathead, and utilizing ingredients from Aboriginal communities such as the lilly pilly fruit. “I think what we’re doing in Australia is very innovative,” says Gilmore. “We’re blessed with great produce, and we have an amazing multicultural society where all these traditions from around the world have given us a lot of freedom.”

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  • NOW-IST of the Moment
    NOW-IST of the Moment

    Fashion Editor for Elle China

    Leaf Greener, Shanghai

    Your secret nickname (or, your porn name): 
    Papaya Duchess


    The work of art you would most like to own:
    “The Soothsayer’s Recompense” by Giorgio de Chirico.


    If life could resemble any film:
    Velvet Goldmine.


    Your claim to fame:
    Playing “Memory” from Cats on a piano at The Bitter End club in NYC one time.


    Ryan Gosling comes over for dinner and you’re cooking:
    Does he mind if I can only cook breakfast? 


    The “bad” habit you have no intention of breaking:
    Wearing high heels during the fashion weeks, even when I need to take painkillers. 

    (Read More)

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