The emergency of Chef James Parker’s Veggy Art
The idea for Veggy Art emerged as James Parker watched busy chefs struggle to find time for creating garnishes and realized that most home cooks abandoned final touches, due to lack of time and know-how. That was in 1998, shortly after Parker started his job as Sous Chef at the Ronald Reagan Building/International Trade Center, in Washington D.C. Parker recognized the potential for a “ready-touse” garnish company, and decided to launch his own, which has blossomed into the successful Veggy Art that it is today.
In March 2001, Mr. Parker set up shop at home and sold his original Veggy Art decorative centerpieces and garnishes to retail outlets in Washington DC, Northern Virginia and New York City. It was the growing demand for his carving classes and demonstrations however, that sewed the roots for further expansion. An article in the Washington Post food section helped shed light on Parker’s craft and when the Associated Press released the same article, Parker received hundreds of emails and phone calls asking about Veggy Art. His students now hail from all over the world.
Since Veggy Art’s beginning, Parker has led demonstrations, sold garnishes, and held classes all over the country. The White House, Bloomingdale’s, the U.S. Marine Corps, Penn College, C’est Si Bon Cooking School in North Carolina, the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Los Angeles, Dean and Deluca, Lacademie De Cuisine, Balduccis in New York, Sur la Table, Holiday Inn in Chicago, The Sugar Art Show in Tulsa, and Silverlining Caterers in Ft. Lauderdale Florida, just to name a few.
Parker kicked off his culinary career while attending the Pennsylvania College of Technology, where he graduated with a Culinary Degree. With a strong passion for creating buffet showpieces including melon carvings, ice carvings and tallow wax sculptures, Parker earned several medals and numerous awards, such as “best of show” for his centerpieces at food shows in the years that followed.
In 1994, he became the Chef Garde Manger at the Sheraton Washington Hotel, one of the largest convention hotels on the East Coast. There, he honed his carving skills and culinary knowledge and later accepted the position of Chef Garde Manger, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. His post at the Ritz fueled his desire to create buffet decorations.
Born in Seoul, Korea, Parker moved to the United States at the age of five. He has appeared on Korean national television (in a documentary in 2002) and has been featured in the Korea Times and Korea Daily newspapers. In 2005, He was featured in KoreAm Magazine , which targets Korean American celebrities and businessmen, and in 2006, He was featured in GM Magazine, Thailand’s equivalence of GQ. He travels extensively throughout the world and was most recently in Thailand, deriving inspiration and filming his first instructional DVD, Basic Fruit and Vegetable Carving.
On U.S. soil, Parker has appeared as guest chef on “The Home Shopping Network,” selling his do-it-yourself edible centerpiece kits. He has also been featured twice on The Food Network’s “Sugar Rush”, The Food Network Challenge, Fantasy Fruit Sculpture, and the Food Network Challenge, Fantasy Fruit Sculpture REMATCH.
Also in 2008, Parker was featured in The New York Times, along with fellow carvers and friends, Jimmy Zhang, Ray L. Duey, and Michael Verno for their “knife skills”. In 2007, Parker teamed up with Morningstar Farms on a mission to show the world how everyone should see veggies differently. Mission accomplished! As Chef Parker adds more projects to his plate, he continually encourages people to discover the ancient art of fruit and vegetable carving, and what has kept it very much a part of other cultures around the world for hundreds of years.
As Featured In: http://www.eat-drink-etc.com/articles/james_parker