Fruit carving, a meticulous art in Thailand

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Thai girls carve floral patterns into fruits during a fruit and vegetable carving competition in Bangkok on August 4, 2017. It is a royal tradition that has proved bountiful through the ages and one that Thailand's fruit carvers are determined to keep alive -- even as young people peel away from the unique art form. / AFP / Roberto SCHMIDT
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A Thai girl carves floral patterns into a papaya during a fruit and vegetable carving competition in Bangkok on August 4, 2017. It is a royal tradition that has proved bountiful through the ages and one that Thailand's fruit carvers are determined to keep alive -- even as young people peel away from the unique art form. / AFP / Roberto SCHMIDT
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A Thai man helps put together an elaborate decoration display with carved fruits and vegetables during a fruit and vegetable carving competition in Bangkok on August 4, 2017. It is a royal tradition that has proved bountiful through the ages and one that Thailand's fruit carvers are determined to keep alive -- even as young people peel away from the unique art form. / AFP / Roberto SCHMIDT
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A Thai boy carves floral patterns into a watermelon during a fruit and vegetable carving competition in Bangkok on August 4, 2017. It is a royal tradition that has proved bountiful through the ages and one that Thailand's fruit carvers are determined to keep alive -- even as young people peel away from the unique art form. / AFP / Roberto SCHMIDT
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A carved pumpkin is displayed during a fruit and vegetable carving competition in Bangkok on August 4, 2017. It is a royal tradition that has proved bountiful through the ages and one that Thailand's fruit carvers are determined to keep alive -- even as young people peel away from the unique art form. / AFP / Roberto SCHMIDT
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A Thai woman carves a vegetable into the form of a rose during a fruit and vegetable carving competition in Bangkok on August 4, 2017. It is a royal tradition that has proved bountiful through the ages and one that Thailand's fruit carvers are determined to keep alive -- even as young people peel away from the unique art form. / AFP / Roberto SCHMIDT
Updated 05 August 2017
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Fruit carving, a meticulous art in Thailand

BANGKOK: It is a royal tradition that has proved bountiful through the ages and one that Thailand’s fruit carvers are determined to keep alive — even as young people peel away from the unique art form.
From beetroots carved into roses to fruity floats made from papayas and melons, the most important fruit carving competition in Thailand took place in Bangkok Friday.
But for competitor Piyanat Thiwato, carving is about more than just winning.
“Carving can improve our mind because it requires concentration and enhances our imagination, it’s a way to relax,” he said.
The tradition has been traced back to Thailand’s royal Sukhothai dynasty, in the 14th century.
“The art of food carving started hundreds years ago. Thailand is rich with arts and crafts. It’s like a very beautiful treasure that we have,” said Araya Arunanondchai, the event’s organizer.
“In the old days, it was done in the royal palaces for the royal family,” she added.
Dozens of Thai artists competed in the famous fruit and vegetable carving competition, which was organized in honor of Queen Sirikit, who turns 85 on August 12.
More than 20 teams carved anything from owls to elephants or intricate Thai designs onto fruits including taros, melons, and papaya.
Fruit carving is still popular as an offering in temples or as a decoration for weddings. Fine arts students can still choose to learn it at university, as they would take painting lessons. But the tradition is fading away.
“Not so many young people are interested in it or the ones who studied it in art schools cannot make a living out of it,” Manirat Svastiwat na Ayutthaya, food carving expert said.


Saudi home-bakers cooking up sweet business on internet

Nada Kutbi started baking from home for family and friends before setting up her Sucre De Nada pastry shop to expand her home business. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 22 May 2019
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Saudi home-bakers cooking up sweet business on internet

  • Thanks to social media, business is booming for Jeddah’s cake and pastry makers

JEDDAH: Enterprising Saudi home-bakers have been turning to social media to help cook up some sweet business success.
The Kingdom’s food producers are proving to be some of the rising stars of the internet, and none more so than 53-year-old mom Nada Kutbi.
Her Sucre De Nada pastry shop in Jeddah has become one of the go-to places for homemade desserts and cakes, and the online side of her business is also booming.
Kutbi’s daughter, Nassiba Khashoggi, told Arab News: “She has basically been baking all her life, especially after having children. She used to make cookies for us and whenever she tried a dessert somewhere else, she would recreate it.
“In restaurants or gatherings, she would always analyze sweets and make them at home for her family. That was how she started baking.
“I don’t think she ever thought she could pursue it as a career, but everyone loved her baking and one of her closest friends encouraged her to start her business when she was a stay-at-home mom.
“It was in 2011-2012, and her friend basically forced her to start by telling her, ‘yallah! make a cake and I will buy it from you now.’”
Khashoggi added: “In the beginning we just went by word of mouth, but when Instagram came along, we made an account and started posting pictures and the customers loved her creativity and uniqueness. I don’t think many people knew what banoffee was before my mom promoted it.”
Although Kutbi’s unique takes and touches went down a treat with customers, it was not until Ramadan last year that she officially opened her bakery in Jeddah.
But stepping up from running a home business presented new challenges. “When you are running a home business there are few staff and it is easy to control,” said Khashoggi. But expanding requires you to put more trust in other people and that was difficult for my mom. Also, when we increased the number of our products it became harder to maintain the quality of goods.”
Kutbi aims to avoid storing, pre-baking or freezing her products and is not a fan of mass production and blast freezing, according to her daughter. “In short, she is against commercial baking,” said Khashoggi. “What is unique about my mom is that everything she makes is made the same day from scratch. It makes it harder for her to redo everything but that’s what makes her special.”

HIGHLIGHtS

• The Kingdom’s food producers are proving to be some of the rising stars of the internet, none more so than 53-year-old mom Nada Kutbi.

• Kutbi’s unique takes and touches have been a hit with customer, but it was not until Ramadan last year that she officially opened her bakery in Jeddah.

Sometimes customers even send pictures or pieces of dessert to Kutbi asking her to recreate their favorite foods.
Another Jeddah-based bakery thriving on the internet is Ganache. Run by Anas Khashoggi, 58, and Jamila Ali Islam, 48, the pastry business has been operating for almost 20 years.
Khashoggi supported his wife after spotting her talent for baking and took a leap of faith by giving up his job and starting an online bakery.
“At that time, there was no social media, but we made an introductory website, which helped us gain popularity,” he said. That was in 1996, and the couple’s first store opened later the same year.
“Ganache has its own unique spirit as a family business, and it is run by Saudi youth who are managing the bakery and understand the Saudi market. The family committee is the one that approves the products,” added Khashoggi.