With international brands striving to always find more imaginative ways for communicating their identity, culinary designers are finding a perfect territory for alternative gatherings. Interaction and togetherness are, in most cases, key ingredients of a food event. But the ones organized by food designer Delphine Huguet, include a dreamy, childish perspective as well.
Delphine Huguet’s unprecedented irony is an edible one: in her projects, she treats food and its meanings exactly in the same way that she did when, at the age of 8, she prepared her first adventurous eats. From Colette’s culinary atelier, Cooklette, to the food industry’s big names like Lay’s and Tropicana, Delphine’s flawlessness is conquering France. Recently the Pompidou Center invited her to develop a project around Mangas. She ended up doing a children’s workshop with a mission: everyone was invited to eat the Mutant Makis that are attacking French gastronomy. The guests - Japanese included- were delighted by the idea!
What have you been working on lately?
I did a food event for Honda and Habitat, something about the tipping point between home and the nomadism. I also created 5 edible objects for The Fricote magazine, inspired by industrial food and the importance of packaging. And then last week we did a children’s workshop at the Pompidou in Paris, where I created the Maki monsters and now we are trying to design more edible monsters together.
How did you come up with the idea of the Mutant Makis?
The Pompidou Center asked me to develop a project around the "Manga" theme. As you might have noticed, in Europe there is a great interest for Japanese food: there’s a sushi restaurant at every corner. In 2011 French gastronomy was added by UNESCO to its lists of the world’s “intangible cultural heritage”, but strangely traditional French food is disappearing from the streets. In my fantasy, I imagined than this loss can be because of the Japanese overwhelming the market and this is how the Maki Monsters project was created. Maki monsters planned an attack on the French heritage, so I invited people to save it by eating all the Maki monsters. Of course it was an ironic project: I love Japan!
How did you start getting curious about food?
I’ve been playing with food since when I was 8, back then I would spent all the time in the garden, building huts and making snacks for my little friends. Tree huts where my obsession, while my ingredients came from the surrounding forest. I remember experimenting with oil and fruits or wild herbs to create bizarre infusions. Years later, I undertook a degree at the Reims Design School where Marc Bretillot was just starting to teach food design.
What’s so special about this medium?
You create a moment, between a person and a meal or between different people and it can be memorable: they could remember it for the rest of their lives.
How did you come up with the Edible Paper project instead?
It was just a feeling: I wanted to eat paper! You can make lots of 3D objects with paper, you can communicate with it, you can draw on the paper, you can print on the paper, you can make furniture with the paper. So I started working on it, I travelled to Japan to see how they make paper and tried to adapt the process into food. It was a prize-winning project, supported by the French Institute’s Hors les Murs program.
Is this the process that you follow in order to create a new piece of work?
Yes, I create a concept and then I speak with a chef to find out how to cook what I have in my mind. The chef works on the taste and the texture, I do the rest: the story, the aesthetics…
How is food going to be in 20years?
Oulala! Food is going to be the same as today in 20 years, vegetables will always be vegetables. But the way we cook food, how we eat it, what we make out of it could be different. 20 years ago, for example, I was 10 and I was eating in the same way that I eat today. The only difference in our times is that there’s probably a bigger concern about the environment. Evolution is in the plan, but I just hope that food will still be a cultural expression and not just a tool for survival.