How a mom's pita bread celebrity portraits became a sensation
School lunches never looked or tasted so good, thanks to Gilat Orkin's unusual artwork.
Playing with your food might not be such a problem. If you've got an artistic bent, it might even get you on TV. An Israeli chocolatier is making waves by creating portraits of famous people and important historical figures ... out of pita bread.
It all started about three years ago when Gilat Orkin wanted to get her first-grader to eat healthier. So she started turning her daughter's school lunches into artwork, creating exquisite edible designs out of wonderfully versatile pita, cheese, chickpeas, halva, chocolate and vegetables. She uses hummus about a third of the time.
She loves turning food into famous people, including Albert Einstein, Audrey Hepburn, Elvis Presley, Homer Simpson, Lena Dunham, Vincent Van Gogh, Johnny Depp, Bono, Leonard Nimoy and the list goes on and on. She relates an event in history to a particular celebrity. So today, for example, on Bob Dylan's 75th birthday, she made a pita portrait of the iconic singer.
When asked which celebrity was the most difficult to portray in bread, she didn't have to think long. "The hardest, I guess, was of Bar Refaeli. It's hard to make beautiful people," she told From The Grapevine. "The ones with a distinct mark or wrinkles are easier."
Orkin says that except for a few props, just about everything in her art is edible. "Like lenses for the glasses are from gelatin," she revealed. "The face is always pita, and the body base is either rye bread or pita."
Orkin began posting photos of her artwork, and the creations became popular – so popular that the pita artist created a new brand for them: "Year of the Sandwich." She posts a new creation on her instagram every day, and she and her daughter go on Israeli talk shows and appear in newspapers. Currently, a collection of her photos are being displayed on a street in Holon, a town near Tel Aviv, Israel.
Orkin follows in the footsteps of fellow Israeli artist Hanoch Piven, who uses food and other household items to create artwork depicting famous people.
We asked Orkin if she prefers whole wheat or white pita. "White is easier to work with, softer and more flexible. For the dark complexion I use whole sheet," she told us, before adding a caveat. "Plus, my daughter doesn't like whole wheat pita."
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE: