At the beginning of this year, we launched The Craftsman Collective, a curated selection of artists that span the vast possibilities of artistic expression. To showcase some of these artists who are pushing boundaries and crafting magical moments, we created the Artist Spotlight series.
For this spotlight, we spoke with Laleh Mohmedi, the incredible Melbourne-based food artist and mom behind Jacob’s Food Diaries, a platform for parents and children that focuses on making healthy food fun by transforming it into children’s favorite characters. It was all started by some spelt pancakes that she made into a lion for her son Jacob a few years ago. Her creations quickly gained worldwide media attention, and now Laleh has collaborated with 20th Century Fox, Disney, Jamie Oliver, Nickelodeon, Universal Pictures, and more.
We recently worked with Laleh on a super-fun campaign for a major movie studio where she crafted two incredible pieces inspired by a recent blockbuster for children. Out of the 11 artists we worked with for the campaign, she had the most commented-on post, with almost 800 comments! That amount of engagement is truly astounding, reflecting the passion, authenticity, and level of artistry she brings to her work.
Laleh was also a joy to collaborate with—so much so that we wanted to immediately connect with her and learn more about her and her work. We hope you enjoy the interview.
Laleh, what drew you to making masterpieces with food?
It all began in May 2015, when I wanted to make healthy food more delightful for my son Jacob. I turned his spelt pancakes into a lion for a bit of fun. It really looked nothing like a lion, but he absolutely loved it! The food art progressed from there. I started putting my creations onto my personal Facebook page, but my mummy friends kept telling me to open an Instagram account. I had no idea about Instagram and didn’t even know what a hashtag was! But one month after I opened Jacob’s Food Diaries on Instagram, it went viral and gained media attention from around the world. It was just incredible!
Tell us about your most magical creation to date.
I think my most magical creation would have to be Mamá Coco from Disney’s film Coco. I made that as a tribute to my late grandmother, my naneh, which I think made it that much more magical for me.
Mamá Coco reminds me so much of my naneh, who was the most kind, selfless person I ever knew. My naneh lived with us growing up. She would walk me to school, cook the most delicious meals, and tell the most amazing stories before bed. After a few years, my naneh moved back to Iran, where she eventually developed dementia. Even through this dementia, she would still remember my voice when I talked with her and call me her zanboor (her bee). To this day, my biggest regret is not traveling overseas to see her one last time before she passed.
This creation was all about her. I miss her smell, I miss her voice, I miss her. They say everyone has a guardian angel and I know my naneh is mine.
What work are you most proud of?
This would definitely have to be the Scar creation I made for The Lion King digital and Blu-ray release. Prior to this, I had never attempted to make a realistic animal creation. Although it took over 20 hours to place the individual grains of rice to replicate the fur, I enjoyed every minute of it!
We were simply amazed when we saw your Scar! The amount of care you put into that—for example, the use and placement of different shades of rice, totaling more than four thousands of grains—really showed in the final product. We’re glad that it was well worth the finger cramping you mentioned in your Insta story!
What do you bring to the brands you partner with?
I have been so blessed to have worked with some of the most amazing companies, from Disney to Nickelodeon to Jamie Oliver to Universal Pictures and Netflix and many more during my food art career. I am just so lucky to call this a career!
I like building rapport with my clients by providing them with quality creations. My number-one priority is for my client to walk away 100 percent happy with what they have received and with their experience with me. I believe that is very important.
Where do you find inspiration for your art?
My children (Jacob now has a sister!) and books and movies are my inspiration. This all started with my son asking me to make creations from movies, books, or toys he had seen that day.
What has been the most important skill for you to hone as a craftsman and storyteller?
Patience. This craft has taught me to have patience—a lot of it!
What do you find most rewarding in the artistic process?
The most rewarding part is receiving comments from our audience telling us that our creation has made their day or put a smile on their face. That is what it’s all about!
What do you find most challenging in the process?
The most challenging part is taking the photo of the creation. I don't use filters or photoshop my photos, and I take them in natural daylight, which can be quite challenging at times due to weather.
What are you working on next?
I am currently back to back with projects, but unfortunately I am unable to share more details with you just yet. So stay tuned!
I also would absolutely love to publish a healthy food art cookbook—just waiting on Disney to knock on my door! Ha ha!
Where can we see more of your work?
Thank you, Laleh. It’s been wonderful to get to know more about you and your craft. We look forward to working with you on future projects.
Oh, thank you! You guys have been such a pleasure to work with!
If you’d like to learn more about The Craftsman Collective, please reach out to us. Craving another helping of food artist insights? Check out our spotlight featuring Jen Lindsey-Clark, the Chocolatician. And to see what else we’re up to, connect with us on Instagram.