Most humans love eating. It’s a basic instinct and physical need. But in our current generation, food is becoming increasingly objectified and praised, and has broken into the world of fashion—an industry that is somewhat anathema to food.
Designer Nicole Nelson has teamed up with renowned Chef Andrew Zimmern to present a new line of bracelets featuring ingredients as the charm. This refined series is appropriately named Delicacies. One charm adorns each American made, Italian finished leather belt-style bracelet.
Paste caught up with “Delicacies” head designer Nicole Nelson and Chief Culinary Officer Chef Zimmern to chat about the bracelets.
Paste: What inspired the idea?
Nicole Nelson: I was at a crossroads in life after spending 15-plus years in media relations. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted it to have something to do with food. I spent a few months researching and thinking, then was stricken with Dengue Fever. My husband, daughter and I all were, in fact; we live in Merida, Mexico, where dengue fever is somewhat common. It was then that I had my first-ever fever dream: a vision of a garlic bracelet — now a Delicacies’ garlic bracelet — wrapped around my wrist. I had never designed jewelry before, so I worked backwards from the vision I saw on my wrist. Fast forward 18 months and now we have a full, growing line of bracelets inspired by simple, whole ingredients.
Paste: How did you two collaborate together?
NN: Andrew is my husband’s business partner, and they have worked together since 2001. We are also very close friends with Andrew and his wife, Rishia, who have been two of Delicacies’ biggest cheerleaders over the past year. Upon hearing our intention to create a charitable angle, Andrew immediately offered to help curate that process, find the right partners, and get the word out to as many people as he could. The first hunger-relief charity we are featuring is Andrew’s choice: Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry.
Paste: Chef Zimmern, what drew you to the project?
Andrew Zimmern: In this era, when food is being fetishized and celebrated like never before, it’s great that people who appreciate, and can afford, the very best in food can also help fight hunger with their purchases. Every single Delicacies purchase donates meals to those in need. I also love the fact that the chefs on our Chef’s Table [an advisory group of notable figures in the restaurant industry who will advise Delicacies on hunger relief charities to partner with]—Gavin Kaysen, Dominique Crenn, Marcus Samuelsson and I—are choosing the hunger-relief charities that are nearest and dearest to our hearts. Food people are the best, most generous people in the world.
Paste: Can you take me through the process of going from inspiration to finished charm?
NN: First we find the best-looking (but not necessarily the most perfect) image or actual ingredient to be used as inspiration. All of our charms are first hand carved in wax on a very miniature scale, then are turned into masters and molds to create our final silver and/or gold ingredients. They are then polished and assembled by hand. There is such a movement toward artisanal food these days, and, well, this truly is artisanal food jewelry.
Paste: If you could see Delicacies adorn the wrist any famous person, who would it be?
AZ: The list in the food space is long, of course, and we’re doing our best to get bracelets on the wrists of my personal food mentors, heroes and respected colleagues. But at the top of my non-food list would be Michelle Obama. She’s been a leader in nutrition issues during President Obama’s term—and she also has a great sense of style.
Paste: Charm bracelets usually have different symbolisms. Do the different ingredients have different meanings?
NN: Yes! We spent a year exhaustively researching each ingredient, reading stories and myths told over thousands of years by cultures around the world to discover what each of these ingredients have meant to people throughout history. Yes, food provides us with energy to live, breathe, think—but we believe that food also can bring in certain energies into our lives. Take garlic, for instance: people have worn it around their necks since the Middle Ages to protect themselves from the evil eye, vampires, and evil in general. We’re advocating doing the same thing, but with a prettier, more delicate version.
Paste: Question for both of you: What’s your favorite charm?
AZ: Currently I’m wearing the Delicacies octopus, and sometimes I switch to the cricket and goat in Thick Cuts.
NN: Mine is the ginger root. I love ginger in my iced tea, I love it in the Thai curry paste I make from scratch after a recent trip to Thailand, and I love the fact that it’s a spicy root that grows in the soil. I also love Delicacies’ description of it: “If you have fire in your belly, ginger is your ally and your remedy.”
Madina Papadopoulos is an NYC based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. Follow her food adventures on Instagram and Twitter.