Sam Chemko excels at the art of fruit and vegetable carving.
In the hands of Sam Chemko, beets become sweetheart roses, and watermelons are transformed into full-blown bouquets. Chemko has lived in B.C. for over 30 years, but her Thai roots have led to a career in fruit and vegetable carving.
The technique originated in Thailand during the 14th century when a servant, Nang Noppamart, carved a flower and a bird from vegetables for the raft of King Phra Ruang. Today, the technique is taught in Thailand from the age of 11, and the carvings are served at weddings, parties, and other special events.
The deftness of Chemko’s fingers is evident as she delicately carves a peony petal from a melon rind, the redness of the melon’s flesh lending a realistic depth to the heart of the flower. Chemko was trained as a designer and seamstress by a Parisian design school based in Bangkok before emigrating to Canada, and her nimble fingers give a light, detailed effect to her designs. Chemko teaches carving to small groups through her company, Thai Creations, in Vancouver.
A taste of the technique
With a fruit carving knife, cut a shallow, upside down triangle into the fruit as shown (1), puncturing the fruit 1-2 cm deep. Remove the triangle-shaped excess. You’ve just carved the top of your petal.
Define the bottom of your petal and the top of the next piece you will remove by making a slice parallel with the underside of the triangle’s point (2). Below that, using two downward strokes, slice a larger V-shape (3 and 4) and remove the chevron-shaped excess from below the petal (5). Voila!
To see more intricate designs and learn more techniques in person, go to thai-creations.com.
Images by Milos Tosic