Whet Your Appetite With This Chennai Artist’s Miniature Food Art 

From the classic Kerala sadhya to paneer tikkas, Mitha’s deftly shaped models are hard to tell from real food.

Updated
Art and Culture
3 min read
Bring more cheer to your fridge magnets  with these unique food sculptures.
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Picture this. A sumptuous plate of biryani and kebabs right before you, except that you can’t dig in.

And yet, it’s not exasperation or despair that hits you at not being able to devour it, it’s awe at the artistry. Shilpa Mitha, an entrepreneur from Chennai, has brought more cheer for fridge magnet enthusiasts with her unique food sculptures, modelled in clay.

The two-inch plate of biryani.
The two-inch plate of biryani.
(Photo Courtesy: Shilpa Mitha)

Mitha, 30, has been making food sculptures for almost seven years now. Like all humble beginnings, Shilpa’s business too started out as a hobby. “It all started with a pair of burger earrings that I made for myself. My friends took a fancy to them, and ordered the same for themselves. I had no plans for selling them initially, but the response has been overwhelming to say the least,” said Mitha in an interview to The Quint.

The burger and fries clay model.
The burger and fries clay model.
(Photo Courtesy: Shilpa Mitha)

Miniature food sculptures have garnered much attention since the 1900s. In 2015, The Telegraph wrote a piece on the popularity of tiny meal videos on YouTube. The article states that the concept of miniature food traces its origins to Japan, where a fad for all things tiny and delicate – called Kawaii in Japanese – came to be.

While tiny edible meals became a rage and a YouTube sensation, tiny food models came in vogue for pure aesthetics. Cashing in on this trend, Mitha started making batches of tiny food platters that serve as fridge magnets.

Elai Sappadu, the Tamil spread, is one of the best-selling magnets.
Elai Sappadu, the Tamil spread, is one of the best-selling magnets.
(Photo Courtesy: Shilpa Mitha)

Mitha has been modelling a range of food sculptures over the years, but Indian food and its paraphernalia intrigues her the most, she revealed. While she does make batches of continental food sculptures, she believes her niche lies in thalis and meals.

From the classic Kerala sadhya to paneer tikkas, Mitha’s deftly shaped models are hard to tell apart from real food.

Food is like art on a plate, given its disparate colours and textures. It’s quite interesting! And to scale them down and still get all the details is pretty challenging. It takes a while to perfect them.
Shilpa Mitha, Miniature Food Sculptor
It’s a pity we can’t dig into these paneer tikkas.
It’s a pity we can’t dig into these paneer tikkas.
(Photo Courtesy: Shilpa Mitha)

Sometimes, making a fridge magnet takes up to five days at a stretch says Mitha, who uses photographs of dishes as a handy reference for her miniature models.

Her online enterprise, named ‘Sueno Souvenir’, has earned her loyal customers and frequent orders for sadhya magnets ­– a hot favourite.

But food models aren’t all for Mitha. “I make figurines too,” she says, adding quickly that she has no plans to sell them yet.

With a growing list of customers and followers on her Instagram account, her wide range of miniature food art exemplifies the most relevant of all phrases – small is beautiful.

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