January 7, 2013

How To Order Customised Plastic Food Models


We aim to understand the following information from our customers:
Types of food or beverage.
Exact specifications and details (dimensions, quantities, colours, food ingredients, cooking methods, etc).
Eventual location for display and usage of kitchenware.

Clear and sharp photos of food (various angles and close-ups) and/or actual food products/raw ingredients are required to begin mould production. The aim is to produce the plastic food models as detailed and realistic as possible. As all models are handmade, no two models look identical.

To provide a precise quotation and production timeline, we require the following information:
Clear and sharp photos of food and beverage (various angles and close-ups).
Names of food items and ingredients/toppings used.
Approximate dimensions and quantities of ingredients used (for example, 6pcs of sliced cucumbers, 1.5cm x 4cm x 1cm).
Dimensions, weights and materials of kitchenware (plates, bowls, cups, etc). Please let us know if you wish to use your restaurant's kitchenware.
Quantity of plastic food model for each food item.
Other special requirements.

Our quotation includes new mould cost (if customisation is required), production & material cost, shipping & handling cost and service charge. All pricings are in Singapore Dollars (SGD).

To begin mould production of the plastic food model AFTER the following:
Received written approval of the official quotation.
Received 50% downpayment of the total cost, including shipping & handling cost.

For Singapore customers, method of payment is by crossed cheque (made payable to “Phil Design Studio”) or interbank GIRO (DBS/POSB Bank). For customers outside of Singapore, method of payment is by interbank telegraphic transfer (TT), Western Union or Paypal. All TT service charges from mutual banks are to be borne by the customer.

Mould production and one plastic food model prototype can be produced between 10 to 18 working days. Confirmation of the exact production timeline can only be made after understanding the type of food, its complexity and the amount of ingredients to be produced.

Photos of the plastic food model prototype will be sent to the customer for approval, before lacquering, mass production and delivery. Any minor or major amendments will be addressed.

Please note that the plastic food model prototype in photos (with or without kitchenware) will be WITHOUT lacquering. Once the prototype has been approved and lacquering completed, no further amendments will be entertained.

To deliver the completed plastic food model/s (prototype or mass produced) AFTER the following:
Received written approval of the completed food model/s.
Received 50% balance payment of the total cost, including shipping & handling cost.

Damaged or incorrect delivered goods will be replaced, at no additional charges. Replacement will only be considered if put in writing and received within 5 days from date of delivery. Phil Design Studio is not responsible for any damage due to accident, misuse, abuse or negliance.

All our models are made of high-quality and non-toxic plastic, paints and lacquer. Every model is handmade and handpainted to ensure quality workmanship and to achieve realism. We will do our very best to produce the models as realistic as possible. However, in case you are not satisfied with the completed models based on your viewing of the photos or before/after shipment and delivery, any payment made is NON-REFUNDABLE.

January 4, 2013

How Food Models Are Made

The article and photos are courtesy of The Tokyo Reporter

Image is entirely everything.
Fumiyoshi Nagao raises the cooked fish by the fin and lets it flop back down on the dinner plate, causing the shredded daikon radish and other garnishes to jiggle just a bit. Slices of various sashimi, in sets of four, fill out the rest of the plate.
"Maybe it has to be a little higher," the 54-year-old supposes, grabbing the fish's dorsal fin and tilting it upward. "Or maybe the daikon has to be moved slightly. The image of the dish is often a problem. The customer always wants it to look like the original - or even better". Though it might seem like it, a cooking lesson this is not.
The fish is actually made of plastic - vinyl chloride, to be exact - and the location is not an eatery of any kind but rather a tiny shop in Otsuka, Tokyo. Nagao's company, Nagao Shoken, creates the plastic food models often seen lined up on shelves in dusty glass cabinets at entrances to restaurants in Japan.
Even with his work resembling food, his shop is quite different from a kitchen: rubbery silicon molds lie in pyramids off to the side; dozens of dish soap bottles sit covered in layers of multi-colored goop; brushes, cans of paint labeled with names of vegetables, and jars of chemicals cover nearly every square centimeter of the tops of the shop's two central tables.
Nagao is, as he says, "a replica craftsman." His work is intended to remove doubt about a dish's quality from the diner's mind and lure him into a purchase from his client, the establishment itself. "When we as customers go to restaurants it is easy for us to see what we will get with the models," he explains, his pants and shirt covered in small paint drips. "Otherwise, we would just be guessing from the menu."
It is a Japanese process that has been perfected over the past ninety years, with the end products becoming an expected element in the dining experience. From soup to nut, the creation of the models is surprisingly easy and fast.
Nagao's clients send him the original menu items they need replicated along with photos. Silicon is poured around each item within the dish - say, a hamburger patty or a slice of fish - in a saucepan atop a stove burner. The silicon solidifies into a mold in the shape of the original food.
Liquid vinyl, in whatever color is necessary, is then poured into the empty mold. The mold is set in an oven where the vinyl will harden for between ten and 30 minutes. An air gun is used to pop the vinyl chunks loose.
The devil of this work is in the details. "After making a mold in silicon, getting the appropriate detail in the vinyl model is difficult," says Nagao. "For example, the spines in the fin of a fish."

Any excess vinyl buildup is trimmed off with scissors. Oil-based paints in tubes and jars add details with the photos working as guides. Airbrushes are used to provide consistency in the paint and ensure a natural look.
The menu item is then assembled from the various vinyl pieces. For the aforementioned fish, the individual parts - the fins, tail, body, and head - are carefully placed among the vinyl stock items Nagao has in bags in his shop; in this case, they are shredded daikon, other leafy garnishes, and pieces of sashimi. A similar procedure is performed for a hamburger bun, patty, and side of fries. The entire process takes only a few hours. 

Non-solid items, such as pork ramen or glasses of frothy beer, bypass the mold stage. For ramen, it is a matter of mixing a number the stock on hand. Vinyl noodles, vinyl roast pork (chashu), and vinyl onions (negi) are blended in a shallow dish of vinyl broth that is colored to match the ramen soup base needed, perhaps shoyu (soy) or tonkotsu (boiled pork bones). After leaving the oven, the final product, which is about an inch thick, is removed from the dish and set into a regular ramen bowl.
Nagao's customers are very finicky. As he works, he always pays attention to how light coming through the glass display will affect the color of his products. As well, he ensures that his stock items come in unending variety. The fake roast pork pieces, for example, even have the fat marbled in different locations. The menu items are all made-to-order so repeat use of the molds is not certain, though it does happen. "Last week a movie theater chain wanted more than 100 hot dogs," Nagao explains.
The volume of work varies each week. It is dependent on the complexity of exactly what has been ordered. But Nagao guesses he might put together between one hundred and 200 menu items each week.
The cost varies considerably. The aforementioned plate of fish will run 28,000 yen. A single sushi piece fetches 800 yen, though that of ebi (shrimp) is a tad more (1,000 yen). Ceramic serving plates or wood platters are extra. Nagao and his staff of a half-dozen create an environment similar to that of an art class in the one-room shop, which is really the first floor of Nagao's home.
"There's no balance," an exasperated Nagao says, squeezing faux whipped cream out of a tube onto a dish of phony ice cream. Meanwhile, his son, who one day may take over the operation, releases bursts of air from an air gun to loosen fake melon pieces from their mold. The lingering smell of paint and chemicals is a constant.
Takizo Iwasaki is credited with creating the first food sample early last century. Initially inspired by the shapes formed by candle wax dripping on a tatami mat, he subsequently molded a wax rice omelet in Gifu Prefecture in 1917. In 1932, he founded the company today known as Iwasaki Co. - the present phony food Godzilla, commanding over fifty percent of the market.
Since those early beginnings, the technology has changed. Up until the mid-'80s, paraffin was used instead of vinyl. When exposed to sunlight or high temperatures, paraffin can become brittle and have its colors fade. Vinyl chloride is said to be nearly eternal. Nagao still has blocks of yellow and white paraffin in his shop but their use today is merely as conversation pieces.
Nagao got his start in the late '60s when he became involved in the family business. For about six years he learned the technique for making the silicon molds. He then spent the next five years perfecting how to assemble the paraffin pieces and apply the finishing touches. Nagao Shoken was later established in 1980 with Nagao as chief proprietor.
Izakayas, supermarkets, and restaurants all across Japan are his primary customers, though he has filled orders for sushi restaurants in Australia. Perhaps his most interesting charge was a department store that requested he create synthetic worms for a before-and-after display exhibiting the effectiveness of an insecticide. Tourists can find his miniature pudding bowls and slices of pizza dangling from the end of mobile phone straps (for 800 yen) when visiting souvenir shops at Narita Airport.
Nagao's three decades in the business has not changed the way he views real food. But he will admit that he does more than casually look at the models when he is dining out.
"I often wonder if chef can make the dish look as good as the model in the window," he says.

January 3, 2013

The Origins Of Food Models

The Japanese started the practice of using food models (食品サンプル shokuhin sanpuru) to present menus offered at the restaurants. The food models displayed outside of restaurant showcases not only attract customers, they also advertise food menus and whet appetites. They are all handcrafted to the finest detail, and can sometimes look more delicious than what are served on the plate. It is common to see hungry customers moving from one restaurant showcase to another, trying to decide which food model looks the most delicious.

During the Meiji era at the end of the 19th century, Japanese restaurant customers were often confused by the unfamiliar new Western cuisines flooding into Japan. Even with Japanese translations of the menus offered, most customers had no idea what they were ordering. To help, many restaurants used expensive and space-consuming methods of preparing food samples for their customers to see and order. Some restaurants provided detailed drawings or photos to reduce costs. But such one-dimensional presentations just did not whet appetites. Very little change was made from Meiji to Taisho and then Showa era.

The creator of the first food model was an entrepreneur from Gifu prefecture, Takizo Iwasaki. Eager to find his niche in the business world, he left Gifu for Osaka in search of his fortune in 1926 (first year of Showa era). Life was tough for Iwasaki in Osaka until one day, probably while eating rice omelette in a crowded lunch shop, he came up with the idea of food models. He recalled the wax human body on display at many Japanese apothecaries, plus the wax models of fruits and vegetables used in schools to teach nutrition. He believed he could apply such wax modelling to food.

Initially inspired by the shapes formed by candle wax dripping on a tatami mat, Iwasaki finally perfected a wax model of a rice omelette after days of trial and error. Other food models were made in his cramped Osaka apartment. To his joy, many food shops bought his wax food models. The food model concept was an overnight hit. In 1932, Iwasaki founded his company Iwasaki Be-I. Over the past decades, the company faced many industry competitors across Japan. But Iwasaki-Be-I remains the biggest producer of plastic food models to this day, commanding over 50% of the market share.

January 2, 2013

Company's Objectives & Aims

To reach out to our present customers in the retail / food & beverage industries and help them to boost their retail / restaurant presence, save labour and avoid food wastage.

To reach out to new customers and food model collectors.

To provide good service to customers every time, and working with them in an open and collaborative manner.

To produce and sell high-quality and realistic plastic food models of both Asian and Western cuisines.

To produce and sell customised actual size and miniature plastic food models of new cuisines, especially food & beverages from Singapore.

To promote Singapore Food Culture to Singaporeans and Foreigners using plastic food models.