In the best pun I could think of, Bompas & Parr – food revolutionaries with a taste for historical recipes and presentation sui generis – are positively feeding us one of the most illuminating collections of Bookshelf yet. It’s gastronomically-themed, albeit with one slight (highly relevant) diversion as they take us through their latest literary-inspired project featuring a giant chocolate climbing wall and Peter Andre. Here they are, doing a much better job of introducing themselves…
“We draw a fair bit of inspiration from history. Bags of time is spent in the London library checking out historic cookery books – Alexis Soyer is one of our food idols – he was a Victorian version of Jamie Oliver, with books, magazines, products, restaurants and celebrity fans. He also created the world’s most fantastic restaurant which included ice caves with stuffed foxes, mirror chambers, London’s first cocktail bar, a medieval banqueting hall for 2,000 and a grotto which you had to go through a waterfall to enter.”
Les Diners de Gala Salvador Dali (1973)
Dali’s cookbook is so hairy and muscly you can really gorge on it. He enlisted the services of the the finest French restaurants of the day – including Maxims and La Tour de Argent – to write the recipes, and he took the glory. The battery of strange recipes includes an entire section dedicated to aphrodisiacs, the appropriate use of atteletes (meat jewellery) and some sketches of limbless dwarves eating eggs. Not your usual cookbook and the most we’ve blown on a single volume.
Memoirs of a Stomach Sydney Whitting (1853)
This is a book entirely written from the point of view of a querulous and at times rebellious stomach. All our projects address this most sensitive organ – the book helps us keep our focus on the belly.
What’s really remarkable is how much your stomach can take. When we built the Architectural Punch Bowl where we flooded a building with booze, we were careful to send the cognac-based cocktail for shelf-life testing. After al,l people were floating across enough Courvoisier to serve 25,000 people before drinking it themselves. We wanted to make sure there would be no cross contamination so no-one got ill. When the results came back from the lab, the cocktail was deemed so acidic, alcoholic and sugary that you could throw a dead dog in it and no-one would get ill – it was impossible bacteria would grow. And people chuck this into their bellies on any given night of the week when they want to party! As an aside, Coca-Cola measures market share by looking at the percentage of America’s communal stomach comprised by their sparkling beverage.
“This is a book entirely written from the point of view of a querulous and at times rebellious stomach. All our projects address this most sensitive organ and this book helps us keep our focus on the belly.”
Bompas & Parr
Larousse Gastronomique Prosper Montagné et al. (1961)
At Bompas & Parr we own three editions of this culinary bible and handy doorstop Larousse Gastronomique. We always reach for the earliest version. It contains ancient and archaic kitchen skills and anecdotes that inspire and amaze – sadly much of the best material was expunged for later editions. The 1961 edition teaches you how to cook a duck ’till done while still alive, the secrets of sabrage and it has over 200 recipes for eggs!
Annapurna South Face Chris Bonington (1971)
At the moment we are obsessed with mountaineers and the levels of organisation they must realise to achieve incredibly brave but ultimately useless goals. Chris Bonington was probably one of Britain’s foremost “conquistadors of the useless”, scaling the highest mountains on all seven of the world’s continents. His organisational skills are considerable (in this book he lists every item of kit he packed for his bid to climb Annapurna in the Himalayas) and the inspiration for our current project – Mt Rocky.
Mt. Rocky is the world’s first chocolate-based climbing wall, 32-foot tall chocolate-centric climbing tower in the form of a Rocky biscuit bar. The installation and theme park ride features a cascading four tonne chocolate waterfall flowing at a rate of 70,000 litres an hour, chocolate grotto and scratch-n-sniff chocolate scented seating areas.
It represents our most ambitious project to date combining food science, complex engineering and pumping equipment with plenty of chocolate. To build Mt. Rocky, we’ve worked with food technologists, engineers, a rollercoaster designer, sound artists, fashion designers and a team of the UK’s top climbing instructors. Mt. Rocky will be launched by celebrity acrophobic Peter Andre. We’re aiming to reach Chris Bonington’s levels of organisation but hopefully with a bit more point than scaling a very big mountain. By the time the installation is over, 6,000 people will have visited the installation and if we do it right they’ll each have a smile on their face.
Playboy Gourmet Thomas Mario (1971)
Thomas is a sleazy and luxurious chef teaching you how to woo a girl with culinary skills and techniques. The recipes are basic but the book has panache when it comes to photography. Lots of soft focus food, lens flares and special in-camera effects bring to life stories about mysterious “sword and flame parties.”
Bompas & Parr will be taking part in the GFSmith Beauty in the Making event, speaking at one of the lunchtime talks curated by It’s Nice That. For more information, visit here.