Food for thought

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A portrait of Coco Chanel by Harley Langberg, made using mashed potatoes and pasta dyed with black food coloring, eggplant, and turnip.

Friday, October 30, 2020. Lots of rain and cold air covering a lot of the East and the Northeast yesterday in New York; with temps in the low 50s and high 40s, and the Real Feel in the low 40s. Brrr!

Today we are featuring an exhibition of Food Art by Harley Langberg. You never heard of Food Art? Well, I hadn’t until I ran into Harley’s mother Kelly Langberg, who naturally is very proud of her son’s artistic inventiveness.

Harley with two of his Food Art creations.

Harley is a New Yorker, born and raised. Being an artist, he also has a day job working with his family office (which has been around for over 100 years). Food artistry, I have learned (from Harley), is not new but has become more popular over the last decade.

Harley has been creating it for more than seven years after seeing (and loving) a food art photography exhibition. He’s built up an Instagram following of more than 34,000 followers, and has worked with many businesses over the years including The Food Network, Billboard, Focus Features, Kroger, Chili’s, and Refinery29, Little Caesars, Thomas English Muffins. 

He also does holiday pieces and celebrity portraits. Among his portfolio is a recreation of a Keith Haring piece and a portrait of Mufasa from The Lion King. Food Art or not, all of his pieces are 100% edible (at least at the time of creation). What amazes me about these portraits is that every aspect of them is “food.” For example, the color black, I’ve learned, is made from eggplant skin.

Harley and the food artist community have pushed the traditional boundaries of “food” demonstrating that it can be consumed by “viewing.”

This is the essence of Food Art. The ingredients used in Harley’s pieces are carefully selected, spanning both the food pyramid and the globe. The vision for his creations can come from anywhere: replicating a famous work, referencing pop culture, celebrating a holiday or bringing to life something that strikes his eye while walking down the street. All of his pieces have one theme in common — they will fascinate, amaze, and amuse.

His portraits of individuals are the best. The perfect gift for a birthday boy or girl, to be presented at table (along with the cake — or as the cake!). It’s also perfect for corporate marketing, or as a “special” gift to celebrate a special day.

Harley can be contacted via his website, which is chock-full of his food artwork, here.

Meanwhile, here is a portfolio of some of his creations including a few daunting and delectable Halloween dishes. Enjoy!

“Keith Haring Pride,” made with prunes, dragon fruit, strawberries, nectarines, mangos, pear, and yogurt dyed with food coloring.
“Iris Apfel” is composed of mashed potatoes dyed with food coloring, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, sweet potatoes, purple cabbage, squash, rhubarb, and turnip.
“Elton John” was made with mashed potatoes dyed with food coloring, peppers, purple cabbage, apple, pears, turnip, and eggplant.
Here’s a tribute to the late, great Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was made using mashed potatoes dyed with natural food coloring, eggplant, turnip, lime, rice noodles, and Japanese yam.
Here’s Samuel Bath Thomas of  Thomas’ (English muffins) made with mashed potatoes dyed with soy sauce, eggplant, egg white omelette, and, of course, English muffins.
“St. Patrick’s Day Pizza for Little Caesars” pizza was made with peppers, ham, bacon, squash, eggplant, mushrooms, and pepperoni.
“Mufasa” from The Lion King, made with mashed potatoes dyed with soy sauce, bacon, eggplant, shiitake mushroom, and pear.
“Sea Turtle” is made with mashed potatoes dyed with soy sauce and food coloring, coffee powder, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, and artichoke.
“Snoopy Fourth of July” is made with blended purple cabbage, mashed potatoes dyed with food coloring, puréed spinach, turnip, squash, eggplant, sweet potato, and red pepper.
“Koala” is made from mashed potatoes dyed with food coloring, eggplant, yuca, and basil.
“Giraffe” is made with peanut butter, chocolate, yogurt dyed with food coloring, and plums.
Here’s “Vito Corleone” of The Godfather made using mashed potatoes dyed with natural food coloring, eggplant, turnip, red pepper, serrano pepper, and rice noodles dyed with black food coloring.
And “Prince Akeem” played by Eddie Murphy from one of Harley’s all-time favorite movies, “Coming to America,” was made using mashed potatoes dyed with squid ink and brown food coloring, dried mango, red pepper, black eggplant, white eggplant, and turnip.
“Queen Elizabeth” on her 94th birthday. The Queen is made from a combination of  mashed potatoes dyed with soy sauce, beets, and natural food coloring, rice noodles, flour tortilla, apples, red pepper, eggplant, and turnip.
In honor of Election Day here’s “Uncle Sam” encouraging everyone to go out and vote! He’s made using mashed potatoes dyed with natural food coloring, turnip, red pepper, and rice noodles dyed with a touch of black food coloring.
While we’re on the subject, here’s George Washington made using mashed potatoes dyed with natural food coloring, eggplant, turnip, and rice noodles.
“Vintage Witch and Moon,” made with mashed potatoes, sliced potatoes, pumpkin, eggplant, and turnip.
“A Nightmare Before Christmas” was made with purple cabbage, mashed potatoes and pasta dyed with food coloring, corn tortilla, eggplant, lemon and turnip.
“Vintage Halloween Scene”  — mashed potatoes, nori, sweet potatoes, eggplant, and turnip.
“Scarecrow” is made with roasted peppers and eggplants.
It’s alive! “Frankenstein” was brought to life with cilantro mashed potatoes, red food coloring, eggplant and turnip.
“Wicked Witch of the West” won’t melt away thanks to the mashed potatoes and spaghetti dyed with food coloring, apple, eggplant, and turnip.
“Santa’s Workshop” magically appeared using mashed potatoes, peppers, bread, turnip, eggplant, squash, purple cabbage, and dried mango.

While food can be fun, it’s also serious business. City Harvest, if you don’t already know, is New York City’s private response to hunger, helping to feed the millions of New Yorkers who are struggling to put meals on their tables right now. They are committed to feeding everyone who relied on them before the COVID-19 pandemic, and to meeting the increasing need for many of those who are experiencing the pandemic of hunger.

A donation of any size goes a long way.

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