Mount Union’s culinary sculptor has Food Network connection
Some sculptors work with clay, blocks of stone or cast metal.
For Stephan C. Baity, it could be a watermelon, a cantaloupe or a 50-pound block of butter, intricately carved into a lovely, if perishable, artwork.
Baity, a Canton native and 1998 McKinley High School graduate, is a master food carver who has competed on The Food Network.
He is resident director of culinary services at the University of Mount Union in Alliance, but away from this exacting position, he often is busy creating artful displays from fruit and vegetables.
Q: How has being on The Food Network affected your career as a food artist?
A: “Talent-wise, I think I’m still the same, but now there’s always ‘as featured on The Food Network’ next to my name and people say, ‘Oh, my God, he can do anything!’ I’ll quote somebody a price to do a party, and they say, ‘Yep, we’ll pay it.’ Before, that wasn’t always the case.”
Q: What was your first food sculpture?
A: “I was 19 years old and working at a nursing home in Canton doing a banquet. Some other chefs were doing ice sculptures, so I went and bought a pumpkin-carving kit and poked holes in a watermelon using the little saw they gave you. It was horrible.”
Q: Did you hone your carving skills when you attended the Pennsylvania Culinary School?
A: “The garde manger class was only 30 days. They did aspic carving, ice carving and condensed all this stuff into a short amount of time. They didn’t even touch on fruit and vegetable carving. That was something I stumbled on much later.”
Q: What have been some of your more unusual commissioned sculptures?
A: “On The Food Network, I carved a floor-model television out of a 50-pound block of butter, I etched the speakers and everything. One of my latest carvings is called The Troll Hole (a museum in downtown Alliance)—I did a watermelon carving with their logo on it, which is a troll. I did a birthday party for a gentleman who enjoys playing the guitar, so I carved a miniature, three-dimensional guitar from a watermelon.”
Q: How would someone hire you to do a carving? Do you have a website?
A: “Go to Facebook and type in Graffiti Carving. That’s my Batman persona. I do logo work, corporate events, weddings, engagements, anything where you want to show off a little bit. It’s all about being unique. Everything I do is custom. Rarely do I repeat myself.”