Q+A w/ Food Artist, Michelle Wibowo
Is there anything better than ART you can EAT?! Food artist Michelle Wibowo has shown us that beautiful and insanely detailed creations can taste just as good as they look. Combining her background in architecture and baking, Michelle is able to make cakes that more closely resemble sculptures than the typical birthday dessert. She has competed (and won gold!) in the Culinary Olympics, and has been featured on the television show Extreme Cake Makers multiple times.
We are such bigs fans of Michelle, so we asked her to create a giant EDIBLE billboard of our Guac Burger, to celebrate the opening of our third London location at Oxford Circus. She used fresh vegetables to create the larger-than-life image, and the first 500 visitors received a free Guac Burger! Read on for our Q+A with Michelle, and learn how she makes her edible art.
by CHLOE.: Hi Michelle! Thank you so much for chatting with us. Please introduce yourself.
Michelle Wibowo: I am a food artist. I create art using edible material, from cake, sugar, chocolate and in this case fresh vegetables! I studied architecture, but my true passion in food and art was calling me back to become a food artist. I have created various edible artworks from a 6 meter long replica of Michaelangelo’s ‘The Creation of Adam’ out of cake sprinkles, to a billboard sized cake, to a 3 meter tall BFG sculpture out of cake.
I was incredibly honored when I was invited to exhibit my artwork at Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
bC: We are huge fans of your work! Please tell us about your path to becoming a Food Artist, Cake + Sugar Sculptor.
MW: I love food and I love making artwork whether a painting or a sculpture, so I just stumbled into this path becoming a food artist. When I graduated from architecture I had this desire to learn more about baking, so I took a baking science diploma, before I decided to combine food and art.
From then on, I just love how food can be transformed into artwork. It’s a non-traditional material for art, but why not? The difference is, even after the artwork is gone (consumed), it’s still remembered as it was created for a special moment, a celebration.
bC: You recently created an edible billboard of our Guac Burger for the opening of our location at Oxford Circus. What was the process like to create this?
MW: The process started from looking at the vegetables they’re using to create the Guac Burger as my color ‘palette.’ After choosing the right vegetables for the right color and shape, I then mapped each vegetable onto the billboard. It was an incredibly time consuming job to do, as each vegetable has different shape and size, so they can’t just be placed randomly. Each vegetable has to be numbered to its specific coordinate on the billboard, like a jigsaw puzzle!
It was such an exciting project, and I’m happy to have been given the opportunity to not just create the billboard, but also to deliver such powerful message for people to eat healthily. When we eat fast-food, we don’t often think about its ingredients. In the convenient modern society, we’ve become so detached from the raw material that made up the food on our plates.
With this project, the idea is reconnect the audience with the raw material that made up the Guac Burger, which is all plant-based and we want to display that in a big way! The team had a brilliant idea to engage with guests by having those fresh vegetables picked and swapped with the Guac Burger during busy lunch time, Yum!.
MW: Haha..I’m always telling myself that nothing is too challenging, challenge is the only way to get ourselves out of our comfort zone and becoming better, and nothing is impossible! Things can be stressful at times but once you’ve committed, you can’t put things down and you will be amazed what you can do.
bC: Do you have a favorite project you have worked on? What project was the most difficult to complete?
MW: It’s hard to pick a favorite because all different and challenging in its own way, and I enjoyed making them all – err most of them.
I had plenty of difficult and stressful times, and one of them was the one that really pushed me to the limit, for example when I did the corgi and the queen cake, I had to endure 14 hours nerve-wracking car journey to Germany, when we arrived at the venue, the cake was badly damaged. I really wanted to cry but I had no time, nor the energy to do so, after such a long journey!
I had to work through the night fix the cakes in-time to be judged for the Culinary Olympics. It was my first time competing in such a big international event. At the end, I was awarded a gold and a silver, so it’s paid off!
bC: Where do you hope to see your career in five years?
MW: I’m happy to be creative in making stuff, and I’d like to inspire younger generations to find their passion in life.
bC: What do you like to do outside of work? Any hobbies?
MW: I like to tinker and experimenting with stuff and I love finding things I can repurpose, or up-cycling any old furniture.
Choice superhero power? Flying!
Three objects you can’t live without? Music, my fingers, clean socks!
Watcha readin’? I found that reading is a waste of time, as you can’t do anything else while you’re reading! so I prefer listening to audiobook instead! Crime thriller audiobook, although currently I am listening biography of Michelle Obama.
Dream dinner guest? Michael McIntyre, and Adele (comedy, music and good food, perfect combo!).
Biggest pet peeve? One of my biggest pet peeves is bad design or something that is not user friendly! Who reads the manual for a dishwasher??!
Favorite place on earth? Wherever my family is!