A self-proclaimed “food illusionist,” British chef Ben Churchill makes desserts that might not be so appetizing at first sight.
Churchill’s desserts “resemble other foods and everyday objects,” Bored Panda reports. Among his most popular creations are a vanilla panna cotta shaped like an ashtray, an orange parfait shaped like a moldy orange, and an olive oil sponge cake shaped like, you guessed it, a dirty kitchen sponge.
Churchill fell into the culinary world “by accident,” he told the Endpaper blog in 2017. After the chef dropped out of art school (he didn’t see a future in it), he took a job cooking at a local pub. But it wasn’t until about 2015 that he started learning how to make pastries.
“I had never done pastry before and wanted to learn, so I just started teaching myself,” Churchill tells Mental Floss in an email. “I ventured into fruit-shaped desserts, but found them too limiting. I used inspiration from films, video games, the world around me, to start seeing what I could do with food.”
Some of Churchill’s sources of inspiration include Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and LEGO, all of which he’s turned into delicious desserts. Last year, he published a book about his unique creations called Food Illusions.
“I’ve noticed people love the controversial ones like the sponge, so I decided to take this route with the ashtray,” Churchill says. “I love challenging perceptions, questioning good taste.”
That whole idea, in fact, is the premise for Churchill’s second book, he tells Mental Floss. The chef is still in the process of writing and making plans for his second volume of Food Illusions.
Churchill thinks his lack of formal training has enabled him to push boundaries and have fun with his work.
“My rules?” Churchill tells Mental Floss. “Ignore the rules. If you want to do something, don’t question if you should, ask yourself how you’re gonna.”
[h/t Bored Panda]