One of a Kind Show


Edible Art Forms: Get to know these One of a Kind makers

11 . 04 . 2019

At this year's Holiday show, creativity not only comes in all shapes and sizes but also tastes! We asked three new One of a Kind Show makers some questions to get to know them a little better before we meet them in person in December.

Sugoi means amazing or awesome in Japanese. And amazing these Sugoi Sweets are. Artist Elle Lei makes artisanal colorful chocolates and confections that not only taste great but are also a feast for the eyes.

How and why did you decide to become an artist?

Elle: As a kid l loved color and anything sweet. Sometimes my mother would return home with little candies. Waiting by the door for her return became my daily ritual and when she returned empty-handed I would scour the cabinets for anything resembling a sweet.

As far back as I remember, my most consistent hobby has been drawing. l was one of the top students in painting/art class throughout my early school years and it was my childhood dream to become a fashion designer. However, like many of us, I was sidetracked by societal pressures and ended up with a law degree in my home country. My artist dream was suspended until l moved to the U.S. and reset my professional career. My first job in the U.S. may sound cliché--I started my food career as a dishwasher. Soon thereafter I was working as a savory chef before eventually shifting to pastry. I even spent one year making a single product every day… macarons. While I enjoyed baking very much, I was still searching for a medium that could better translate my passion for color, design, and flavor. I found it when I started playing around with chocolate. It was chocolate, especially painted bonbons, that allowed me to combine food with art and science in a way that I can only describe as magical. I have made a lot of mistakes and bad batches along the way, but the only thing more satisfying than seeing a perfect bonbon pop out of the chocolate mold is to see someone else truly enjoy them. Making chocolate bonbons gave me the opportunity to once again dream about colors, hold a paintbrush, and share my little creations with others. For this I am grateful.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Elle: My inspiration comes from travel and cultural influences such as fashion, music, movies, art museums, cookbooks, and from other artists.

Apart from creating chocolates, what do you do?

Elle: Sugoi Sweets is a new endeavor, getting it up and running consumes a lot of my time. With the free time I do have, I find myself reading cookbooks and teaching myself digital drawing.

They are handmade, with only four ingredients, but the eating experience is anything but simple. Madison-based Nutkrack's chef Eric Rupert talks us about his passion for pecans.

Tell us more about your pecans.

Eric: Our recipe is simple, only four ingredients: pecans sourced from New Mexico, a little bit of sugar, a pinch of sea salt and canola oil. However, this creation was a happy accident. After accidentally dunking a pound of pecans into the wrong pot, I scooped them and put them aside only to realize just how delicious and addictive they were. The rest is history.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Eric: I am inspired by the way food brings people together. For everyone, the world over, our most cherished memories are created around the table, eating and drinking with the people we love. Nutkrack has grown out of the desire to share those extraordinary experiences with as many people as possible.

Where can people buy Nutkrack's? (aside from at the One of a Kind Show, of course!)

Eric: Nutkrack is now available at more than 30 locations in Madison, and all over the state of Wisconsin. We will be arriving soon in Minnesota and Illinois. To date we have shared more than 35,000 samples of Nutkrack to an adoring public, and we look forward to sharing some with you soon!

Unlike most commercially sold marzipan, the Faerie Castle Marzipan recipe uses almond paste with an almond to sugar ratio of at least 60 to 40 and the flavoring used is vanilla, instead of almond. Owner and artist Bonny Davidson sculpts these miniature fruits and vegetables by hand.

How and why did you decide to become an artist?

Bonny: Becoming a marzipan artist never was really a choice for me to make. When my father taught me to make marzipan, I was so young—barely 4 years old—that I don’t remember learning. What I do remember is my father’s gentle direction as my skills increased: pinch the pear gently, use a light touch on the nutmeg grater, insert the leaf very carefully. Pursuing marzipan artistry as a career, however, is most definitely my decision. After 50 years as a writer and editor, Faerie Castle Marzipan is my chosen retirement occupation.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Bonny: I always loved tiny versions of everyday and unusual items and I loved the ordinary and extraordinary food that my parents had learned to make while students of Antoinette Pope. Making marzipan professionally is the combination of these loves. I am delighted to have an opportunity to share the legacy of marzipan making begun by my parents. As my tag line says, Faerie Castle Marzipan is based on a true story and it is the candy of love.

What does handmade mean to you?

Bonny: A handmade item is created by an artist and is never mass-produced by machinery. For example, although every piece of Faerie Castle Marzipan weighs the same amount, like snowflakes, no two pieces are exactly the same.

Meet these makers in December and many more who make life a bit sweeter with their creations.