Food for art’s sake - the Margarine Dream
Abstract: This paper provides a culinary professional’s personal reflection on 30 years of intermittent margarine sculpting. It provides a retrospective insight into the challenges of maintaining margarine sculpting skills through national culinary competitions with increasingly limited commercial opportunities.
Witnessing the art form’s marginalisation by economic imperatives and the vagaries of fashion I pose some troubling questions, at the core of which is the future of margarine sculpting. This artisanal skill is on the brink of being lost - is margarine sculpting: out of favour, out of money, an expensive indulgence in a challenging commercial environment?
Without a commercial imperative (and sponsorship) even sequestering margarine sculpting into culinary competitions is under threat. Equally concerning, as a margarine sculptor and a culinary arts lecturer, how is it possible to attract new talent and pass on the skills rather than inertly documenting a lost art for posterity?
Biography: Paul Hamilton is a culinary arts lecturer at the School of Hospitality & Tourism, AUT University, Auckland. He is also an accomplished margarine carver with over 30 years of experience and has been awarded multiple gold medals for his sculpted work at national competition level. The creativity of working with margarine has afforded him the pleasure and challenge of artistic expression, beyond the temporal immediacy of the kitchen and the plate.