“Jelly Mongers” Bompas & Parr with their gingerbread gherkin & assorted jellies.
Like countless people, jelly has always been my favourite dessert – as a child, whenever my parents would take me to a restaurant there was no question that I would choose a bowl of festive Jell-O to finish my meal off right. Â And given the choice between birthday cake and my Mum’s sparkly, layered jell-o trifle, cake will lose every time.
Who doesn’t love to go to an old-fashioned diner and see the glass-front dessert fridge filled with crayon box coloured Jell-O plates, ready to wiggle their way to the tummy. But, alas, the humble jelly has fallen out of favour in recent years, replaced by more modern sweet treats like s’mores and fancy ice cream sundaes.
So I was thrilled to learn that a couple of young British culinary upstarts, Sam Bompas & Harry Parr, have revived traditional jelly-making and elevated it to iconic, hipster status, with their architectural moulds, change-in-the-mouth flavours and fanciful, glow-in-the-dark colours.
While the duo create their handmade jellies in the centuries-old artisanal manner, their execution of design is anything but traditional. They’ve created the most magical edible installation events including an Easter event titled “Rabbit Cafe” featuring an albino rabbit colony petting zoo, Easter treats for eating and an informative animal husbandry session provided by a vet. In March of 2011, they hosted an underground “Taste-O-Rama” viewing party for the film Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom where guests enjoyed key moments of the movie in their mouths. These one-of-a-kind gatherings are a main focus for Bompas & Parr who view food as a multi-sensory experience.
They shot to fame in the UK in 2009 with their “Alcoholic Architecture” event, in which Bompas and Parr transported people “inside” a large gin and tonic. You have to see it to believe it:
Their architectural jelly creations have included scale models of Buckingham Palace [made in April, 2011 to celebrate the Royal Wedding] and St. Paul’s Cathedral; and amongst their other culinary oddities they have created a Willy Wonka-ish chewing gum that changes flavour as you chew.
[Bompas & Parr’s jelly Buckingham Palace in front of its stone predecessor]
From their website, comes this gorgeous description of their ingenious work:
Bompas & Parr designs spectacular food experiences often working on an architectural scale with cutting edge technology. Projects explore how the taste of food is altered through synaesthesia, performance and setting. Bompas & Parr also designs and manufacturers bespoke jelly moulds and kitchenalia; makes fine English jellies; provides full catering services; and provides food and design consultancy.
Bompas & Parr has worked with architects including Lord Foster and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners designing jellies for a 2000 person Jelly Banquet at UCL, provided expertise for Heston Blumenthals recent series Feast and worked with the ICA to transform Peter Greenaways The Cook The Thief His Wife and Her Lover for a scratch n sniff event introduced by the director.
Recent projects include a vast glowing jelly installation for San Francisco MOMA; Alcoholic Architecture, a walk in cloud of breathable G&T and the Architectural Punchbowl where we flooded a Robert Adam building with 4 tonnes of Courvoisier Punch.
Bompas and Parr are culinary magicians who dare to plunge down the rabbit hole and create their own strange, delightful and utterly unique gustatory world. They’ve made “different” as cool as can be.