Sam Bompas and Harry Parr create food experiences of a very different kind.
In the past 5 years they designed food spectacles involving the work of engineers, architects, scientists, high tech specialists and live performers. Anything is possible, as long as it involves food and the true spirit of exploration.
Founded in 2007, they created a climbing wall made of chocolate, artworks in the form of cakes, sculptures made of sugar and jellies. When asked about the skillset of a typical monger, Sam wants hard-grafting generalists with determination. Skills are useful but not essential. “You can learn all that’s important if you put the hours in.”
One of the more important life decisions for Sam Bompas was “When I dropped a full time, well-remunerated and respected job in industry to become a jellymonger. Since then life has been a feral and fabulous adventure.”
For London Fashion Week Bompas & Parr get meaty. They are building the Mercedes Drive Thru beneath Selfridges. As part of the Avant/Garde Diaries curatorial programme they are working with light artists Jason Bruges Studio to create a vast pulsating light installation which illuminates as you drive through it to pick up emotionally compelling food.
The Drive Thru is located in the 40m long marble entrance of Selfridges old hotel and features a revolving restaurant, troupe of roller girls (The Doughnuteers), uniforms by Tour de Force and triptych The Four Horsemen of the Oesophagus. The menu has been developed following research into the culinary implications of in-car dining with Dr Rachel Edwards-Stuart and will push your cup-holders to the limit.
I wonder what B&P could come up with if their next creative commission would give them freedom to do anything they like. Sam reckons he would drag an iceberg from Newfoundland to New York and use it to chill down cocktails across the Eastern Sea Board. “We’ve been working on it with physicists and environmental experts and have worked out it’s 1000 times more energy efficient than making the ice using a standard ice maker. Excitingly we are now talking to an owner of a fleet of super-tugs who has the engine power to make it happen.”
Sam seems to be a fan of his own cocktail recipes and admits “I sometimes get drunk late at night and email all our culinary heroes. With a bit of graft you can get almost anyone’s contact detail. Every so often I propose something sensible and they get back to me. The results are some of the best and most interesting work we’ve ever done. Making jelly moulds for Heston Blumenthal and Lord Rogers, working with neuroscientists to wire Kelly Brook to a brain helmet and flooding buildings with booze you can boat across before having a drink.”
What are Sam’s thoughts on life in general?
And the most absurd piece of advice he ever listened to?
“Not to commit adultery in an old school dressing gown. …I went to a fancy school and being told this on the last day made it all the more absurd but also magical.”