A mom-of-two has found a fresh way of encouraging her kids to eat healthily – by creating amazing portraits of animals, Disney characters and celebrities out of fruit.
Using melon, grapes, blueberries and mangoes, Sarah Lescrauwaet-Beach, 40, makes pictures of everyone from Donald Trump to Elvis Presley.
In 2018, she set up an Instagram account, so she had a place to share her edible artwork – and has now built up more than 11,000 followers, who go so bananas for her designs that she has even begun taking commissions.
A jaguar made with watermelon, carrots, plum, blueberries, cucumber and endive (PA Real Life/Sarah Beach)
As she does not use a cutter – instead crafting every shape by hand using a knife – her portraits can take up to an hour and a half to create.
But Sarah, who owns a chocolatier business, MIA Foodie in Baker Street, west London, and currently lives in Brussels, Belgium, with her British husband Brett Beach, 45, and sons Sebastian, 10, and Damian, six, insists it is worth every second.
Explaining how her project, which she has named Edible Food Art for Kids, not only makes her children smile, but also encourages them to eat well, she said:
“It all started out as a bit of a joke. I like to play around with food, and so decided to create some Disney and Pixar characters out of fruit and vegetables for the kids."
A turtle made with watermelon, cantaloupe, melon, strawberries, cucumber and mango (PA Real Life/Sarah Beach)
“There is some beautiful food art out there that is amazing to look at, but most people are using food with lots of additives and coloring – things that I would not buy or eat."
“My message is all about getting kids and parents to have fun with fresh food. Parents are much more likely to get their children to eat fruit if it's presented in an interesting and varied way."
Growing up in Bruges, Belgium, Sarah's interest in food started when she was very young.
Joe Exotic aka Tiger King made with watermelon, mango, cantaloupe, plum, grapes and chocolate (PA Real Life/Sarah Beach)
By age 12, she would make meals like pasta, potatoes and meat, for her family to help out her dad, and she taught herself English by watching BBC cooking shows.
As an adult, she found herself drawn to healthy, simple recipes – particularly as she had a sensitive stomach, and so wanted to limit the amount of fat and additives she consumed.
Then, she met her husband Brett in 2007 in New York, where they both lived at the time, and eventually, their mutual love of food became their meal ticket.
With Sarah doing PR for a Belgian brewery, and Brett working as a consultant, in 2016, they combined their skills and founded MIA Chocolate – short for Made in Africa – an award-winning range of vegan dark chocolates, which are crafted by African communities using locally sourced ingredients and materials, providing valuable jobs.
Juggling work with raising two small children, life was busy for Sarah, and she started to play around with fruit while relaxing with a glass of wine in the evening, creating her first edible portrait – a shark made of melon followed by a Minion from the animated movie Despicable Me – in Spring 2018.
“My husband was laughing because he knows I'm not artistic. I can't draw and had not really done anything creative before – but playing with food is something I can do."
Sarah with her sons Sebastian and Damian (PA Real Life/Sarah Beach)
“The kids were quite excited. They like anything that is gimmicky. We took plates to the school too, and their friends were excited, so that spurred me on."
From there, Sarah began making more and more kooky creations, uploading eye-catching snaps of them to Instagram.
“I've done quite a lot of Disney characters because the kids like those. It helps if you have a cartoon to base them on because they are easier to recreate than a photo. I've learned not to go into too much detail."
Barack Obama made with blueberries, melon, chocolate and pomegranate (PA Real Life/Sarah Beach)
“I also do a lot of animals. My favorite is an elephant, and I recently did a chimpanzee for World Chimpanzee Day. It's nice if there is a bit of a message behind it, or it can draw attention to something."
“I've learned about using different sides of the fruit rather than making it flat and to add texture. The best fruits to use are pomegranates, grapes and watermelon, but I also use seeds, veggies like carrots and peppers, nuts and occasionally chocolate."
As well as Disney and cartoon characters, Sarah sometimes makes edible portraits of celebrities.
Elephants made with watermelon, grapes, pomegranates and peach (PA Real Life/Sarah Beach)
Recent creations include television presenter Oprah Winfrey, former President Barack Obama, current President Donald Trump, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and Joe Exotic, one of the main characters in the hit Netflix documentary Tiger King.
“The Joe Exotic one did attract some comments online. Because he's quite a controversial figure, people did not understand why I would do him, but I think – and the same with Donald Trump – people can laugh at them, but they're also a political statement," Sarah said.
“I discuss a lot of politics with my children. We watch the news and talk about these people, so it's a way of opening up conversation with them."
“I decided to do Jamie Oliver because he's recently spoken out about his focus on fruit and veggies, and it's exciting to see people taking a step forward to try and help get the message out there," she said.
Sarah has also made renowned physicist Albert Einstein out of watermelon, mango, melon, grapes and chocolate, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain from mango, watermelon, papaya, kiwi and blueberries, Golden Girls actress Betty White using blueberries, mango, red pepper and grapes, and King of Rock and Roll Elvis Presley with melon, grapes, blueberries and tomato.
To her surprise, her Instagram followers went so wild for her designs that she even began to take requests.
Shrek and Donkey made with watermelon, melon, persimmon, chocolate, chia seeds (PA Real Life/Sarah Beach)
“Somebody asked me if I could do Peppa Pig, and it went from there," she continued, adding that she has also made cartoon characters Bing the bunny and PJ Mask, following suggestions from her fans.
“People think this is a good way to show that you can have fun with healthy eating."
“It's about balance. My kids and I still have yummy food like chocolate and cookies, just not with additives and preservatives."
Elvis made with melon, cantaloupe, grapes, blueberry and tomato (PA Real Life/Sarah Beach)
“I lived in the USA for nine years, and they have a huge issue with what kind of food they give to their kids."
“So does Belgium – there's a lot of candy and preservatives. I think if we can get that message across to them when they are younger, they will reap the benefits when they're older."
“Plus, it's really important to make people smile as everyone is a little bit more stressed these days."
Einstein made with watermelon, mango, melon, grapes and chocolate (PA Real Life/Sarah Beach)
Keen to avoid waste, Sarah puts any leftover fruit into a salad, or homemade popsicles, for her family to enjoy.
As she does not make her portraits every day, she does not spend a huge amount of money on them.
And to make sure her products are always up to scratch, she has two tough critics willing to give their opinion.
Sarah (PA Real Life/Sarah Beach)
“Both my boys are real foodies. Sometimes they critique me and say 'This could be better. I would have done it this way.'"
“I always value an honest opinion!"
For more information search Instagram for @edible_food_art_for_kids/.