How do you take a once-kitsch and tasteless treat and turn it into a visually dynamic and flavoursome sensation for weddings, launches and lavish dinner parties? We asked Jessica Mentis, aka The Jellyologist, who has been making events wobble with her weird and wonderful edible jelly art since 2015.
What makes your work unique?
I think we have managed to find a way to reinvent a well-known and nostalgic dessert and give it a new twist. It’s about taking a simple notion, like a ‘glass of champagne on arrival’ or a happy childhood memory, and reinventing it. I do this by using the skills I’ve picked up through working in completely different disciplines like architecture and spatial design, and combining the two opposites. I’m still surprised by the reaction our jellies receive when we serve them up. People love them, the way they look and taste. It still blows me away.
Tell us about your work space… What do you most like about it?
We have recently moved into a big, beautiful space on the first floor of an old building on Karangahape Road in central Auckland. It’s a really massive space with lots of light and high ceilings, and we put in an open-plan kitchen. We are really lucky to share it with two of my friends, very talented creatives working in fashion and graphic design. It is so great to be able to support each other, learn from each other and have a space that is flexible enough to accommodate all of our crazy projects. We have a lot of fun up there in our studio. It really is a dream come true!
Why does the space work for you?
I remember early on saying how awesome it would be to have a space that seamlessly blends kitchen tools, like pots and pans essential for jellying, with tools and equipment usually found in design studios and fabrication workshops, like vacuum formers and 3D printers. The space is the perfect balance for the business. It feels like it will only grow to accommodate us and I am beyond excited to see what the future has in store.
What are your career dreams or aspirations?
I’m passionate about creating memorable experiences for people. I love taking people out of their comfort zones, making their weddings that much more special, and creating an atmosphere they’ll talk about at dinner parties for years to come. Essentially, the idea behind starting the jelly project was to create something unique and different that people love. I’m not necessarily mad about jelly in the same way that bakers are mad about baking or florists are mad about flowers, but I am pretty crazy about the experience people have when they get to try something in equal parts nostalgic and experimental. This principle can be applied to other foods, drinks and dining experiences, and I hope to experiment with all these things.
What’s next for The Jellyologist?
I’d love to expand my client base and continue to work with forward-thinking brands that are as excited about creating spectacular brand experiences as I am. There is so much happening in this space overseas and I would love to lead the charge in bringing some of these experiences to New Zealanders.
There are so many talented creatives here who I’d love to work with. I think it’s a pretty special time to be part of the creative world of New Zealand. thejellyologist.com