Singaporean behind food replicas for model

PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM/ JOCELYN TEO, JOHN LEGEND
Chrissy Teigen (above, with her husband John Legend) gushed over the miniature food replicas on Snapchat.
Chrissy Teigen (above, with her husband John Legend) gushed over the miniature food replicas on Snapchat. PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM/ JOCELYN TEO, JOHN LEGEND

Artist Jocelyn Teo was commissioned by singer John Legend to create 15 miniatures for his wife Chrissy Teigen

American supermodel Chrissy Teigen received the "best gift ever" from her husband, R&B singer John Legend, for her birthday - and it was a Singaporean clay artist who made it happen.

Jocelyn Teo, 30, created 15 miniature replicas of dishes from Teigen's cookbook, Cravings, including chicken satay, fish tacos, kale salad and chicken noodle soup.

Speaking to The Straits Times on Tuesday, Teo said the project was one of the highlights of her hobby-turned-career.

She said: "It is a huge opportunity for me to create for someone of John Legend's talent and celebrity status."

Teigen, a former Sports Illustrated model, gushed over the present on Snapchat.

"Oh my god, my recipes are tiny," she said, adding that the miniature food replicas "look just like it". Legend can be heard in the background.

Teo said she was overjoyed when she first saw Teigen's Snapchat.

"She sounded genuinely excited about the gift and with the caption 'best gift ever', it made my day. Days even," she said. "All the hard work making the entire collection of miniature sculptures was really worth it for her reaction."

And after keeping the project a secret for four months, Teo was finally able to reveal the news on her Instagram on Sunday, calling it a "thrilling ride from the get-go".

She was first contacted by Legend's manager through e-mail in July and discussed ideas for the present with the singer through a Facetime call.

She also documented the sculpting process on micro-blogging site Dayre on Sunday, where she included several behind-the-scenes photos.

Teo had pored over Teigen's cookbook, which was sent to her from Los Angeles a few days after her call with Legend.

Eventually, she selected the 15 dishes for their "varied look".

"As I knew we were going to compile them all into a frame... I wanted to create items which would look different from one another," she said, adding that the project took her 31/2 months to complete.

To perfect her craft, she even whipped up a few of the recipes in the book, including a bowl of sweet chilli chicken wings.

This allowed her to study the colours and textures of the dishes she could not easily obtain in Singapore.

While she declined to share how much she was paid, she said that shipping, duties and insurance had cost more than $400. Legend had covered the insurance.

Teo first dabbled in clay craft in 2009, after stumbling on some clay in an art store.

Together with her then-boyfriend and now husband, she would make "some tiny things for fun" and post them on her blog.

When friends, and later strangers, took an interest in her work, she started creating gifts for them, earning pocket money as she went along.

She now runs her business AiClay full-time and has worked with clients such as food companies McDonald's and Sushi Express and car brand Volkswagen.

Teo hopes her experience will show Singaporean artists that nothing is impossible.

She wrote in her post: "Hopefully, this would be a small butterfly effect in an avalanche, to set off a ripple and have more people around the world knowing about Singapore and what we have to offer in the arts."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2017, with the headline 'Singaporean behind food replicas for model'. Print Edition | Subscribe