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French Style: Olivier Herbomel, World Famous Fruit and Vegetable Carver

Olivier Herbomel with his 2012 gold medal and prize winning sculpture

Olivier Herbomel is a master of his craft – he takes fruit and vegetables and turns them into works of art and has won many competitions and awards around the world for his fabulous and complex designs.

Olivier is a trainer in a catering company and he has a passion for cuisine. He discovered the skill of fruit carving 10 years ago when he met a Chinese carver at a food event. Now as a world famous sculptor of vegetable and fruit Olivier travels all over the world taking part in competitions, giving demonstrations of his craft and he also teaches the skill to others.

We asked Olivier where he gets his inspiration from and he told us that he sees motivation everywhere – from playing with his children to working in the kitchen. From sugar, chocolate, flower arrangements and sculptures and he especially finds Thaï paintings stimulate his creative juices!

When Olivier started to learn the highly skilled art of crafting fruit and vegetables he mainly taught himself using books from Asia (China and Thailand) – where the art originated. He says that carving “is like a sport. I must train regularly”. As his flair and skill grew Olivier spent time in Asia and learned with two masters of the art Xiang Weng, a famous carver from China and Naront Kasinsit – “the best fruit carver in Thailand”.

Close up of Olivier Herbomel's Thai Puzzle

Olivier says that ideas come to him all the time and he must practice his skills and take risk in order to become a better sculptor although it seems to us that he’s definitely at the top of his game. He has just taken part in the IKA World Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany and he was awarded a Gold Medal. When we spoke to Olivier before the contest, he was under enormous pressure about such an important event – one he had actually started preparing for almost two years before!  Chefs from all over the world attend and he was up against the best – including from Asia.  He had an idea for his sculpture which he says he “realised would be very difficult to do”.

The Gold medal winning work is entitled “Thai Puzzle”.  Olivier told us “my Thaï Puzzle represents a playful view of Thaï art. I carved different kinds of vegetables and fruits: Taro, Pumpkin, Watermelon, yellow melon and turnip. The idea was to present them in a 3 dimensional fashion. First – the frame, covered with jigsaw pieces in vegetables; then I built up the volume to present the sculptures. The story of this piece: Thaï horses pull a carriage from the explosion of the pumpkin (on the top)… it runs on the route of the puzzle”.

Olivier Herbomel's favourite carving

Olivier says this his Thaï Puzzle is one of his favourite works together with a fairground carving which he fashioned from pumpkin and taro and which took three days to complete. He told his most challenging sculpture was one which involved building a huge totem of pumpkins – and which had to be completed with a colleague in 24 hours.

Congratulations to Oliver Herbomel on his well-deserved Culinary Olympic Gold Medal.

To contact Olivier or to learn more about his fabulous art see  his blog Sculpture d’Olivier

More fabulous photos of Olivier’s wonderful creations:

Olivier Herbomel concentrating on the carving

Carving the fine detail requires a lot of thought and hard concentration.

 Olivier Herbomel creates a masterpiece in a 24 hour Pumpkin carving marathon in Hungary

Olivier creates a pumpkin masterpiece in a 24 hour marathon contest in Hungary.

Olivier Herbomel makes a bird from radish and carrot

Olivier makes a bird from a white radish and carrot!

 Olivier Herbomel creates a wedding showpiece

A show-stopping wedding centrepiece.

Olivier Herbomel's record breaking carved pyramid tower

The toughest challenge – a record breaking carved pyramid tower.

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