Six months after moving to Melbourne, Tuckshop Takeaway’s burger maker Phil Ferguson realised he needed to flex his Fine Arts muscles and, more importantly, make friends. In an exceptionally Gen Y approach to building arty acquaintances, the WA-born, 22-year-old began crocheting food creations. Sporting the cutesy-kitsch headwear with an apathetic pose, Ferguson’s Instagram account, ChiliPhilly, was born and promptly went “viral”. Now, with more than 19 thousand followers, and a cupboard full of fancy dress options to call upon (pizza head, bacon and egg beanie, burger balaclava, etc.), Phil Ferguson can rest assured his friend count and artistic cred will only continue to grow.
Food and crochet are seemingly incongruous interests. Tell us how and why you decided to merge the two. I’ve done art my whole life, so crochet was a fun thing I sort of taught myself. The food element came about because I was working at Tuckshop Takeaway, Caulfield (Melbourne). My first real hat was a pot plant, but I was like, “Oh maybe I’ll make one that’s a burger.” So I made it based on the burger we sell at our work.
You obviously didn’t have a blue-print or crochet pattern to work off, how did you manage to make the burger hat? I went on YouTube to figure how to do the one stitch, but everything beyond that I’ve taught myself. The burger one took me so long. I was undoing it and redoing it. It was only until I started my Instagram account that I committed to finish it straight away.
Since then you’ve covered plenty of fast food icons, including pizza, tacos and a saucy meat pie… I’m stuck on the food thing right now. One, because it’s easy [to find] inspiration and, two, because it’s a popular thing – a near-universally popular thing. As if anybody will hate food! The way I work is I don’t sketch or plan.
“If I’ve got an idea in my head I’ll just go to the shops, buy the wool, come home, make it and then that’s it. It’s literally brain-to-product.”
When you’re not raiding your fridge for artistic inspiration, what do you like to cook? I’ve only just realised I like cooking. When I have time, I make curries. Things with rice.
Might you go down a more multicultural food path with your hats? Lots of people ask for pho, and while I could probably try and execute that, at the end of the day if I say, “This is pho,” would everybody necessarily recognise what it is? I work visually, so if there’s food that is identifiable and cultural then sure.
Why do you think the concept works? When I started my Instagram I thought, “I’m going to do these weird crocheted hat things,” and I had a feeling it would be somewhat popular. It’s because I’m so niche. I’m making wearable things, but in turn they’re objects or food, then I’m a boy and people don’t associate crochet with men.
You’re still working at Tuckshop Takeaway. Would you ever wear a head piece on the job? I totally would not! It’d get so oily being near the grill!
And perhaps you’d be mobbed by Insta fans. Do many diners ask, “Are you that crocheted hat guy?” Yeah, all the time. Even though I welcome it, it’s always so awkward for my co-workers when somebody is trying to ask me if I’m “me”.
To win a one-of-a-kind ChiliPhilly design:
ChiliPhilly and SBS food are celebrating Eurovision hosted in Vienna this year! Hop onto our Facebook this Wednesday (6 May, 2015) and correctly name this quintessential Austrian pastry captured in crocheted form. (Answer: here.)
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Fringe Foodies Editor Siobhan Hegarty
In our new monthly blog, Fringe Foodies, we interview creatives, artists, designers, writers and poets about their affinity with all things edible. From the printed page to sculptures and soundwaves, we discover the myriad ways food can be created, celebrated and consumed.