July 18, 2024


Shopping, Clothing & Fashion

At Chifa, a selection of edible jade jewellery is on the menu

At Chifa, a selection of edible jade jewellery is on the menu

As young children, Humberto and Rica Leon used to suck on jade jewelry throughout periods of good focus — or, at times, just for fun. As grownups, they interact in a related action but for unique good reasons with a different result: the sweet, lingering taste of lychee and peach.

The siblings run Eagle Rock cafe Chifa, which has been providing a new, ephemeral “jade” jewelry line produced not from metamorphosed minerals but sugar. The eco-friendly bangles, pendants and bauble-y rings have that signature translucency linked with jade and are so marbled with wisps of white and seafoam they could be puzzled for the genuine point, but they’re completely edible — cultural touchstone as sweet.

“I’m like, ‘How fun is it that you get to style this jade that we have generally sucked on?’” Rica asks. “And we’re not the only Chinese loved ones [that did] all little ones sucked on their jade necklace when we were being developing up.” It’s a anxious tic which is ongoing into adulthood, Humberto suggests. He nevertheless catches himself with his real jade necklace among his lips or looks down to locate his fingers twisting the pendant string when he’s deep in believed. “I consider anyone who wears just one of these has put it in their mouth,” he suggests.

The candy necklaces, bracelets and rings are, of study course, far additional mouth watering.

The minimal-run candy jewellery line, which released for Lunar New Calendar year and replicates the symbolically fortunate and protective stone, offered out, but the Leons be expecting to restock in early April both of those on the net and at the cafe. Upon request, the pieces can be sent to the meal table like a dessert tray, a several samples laid out in a box for the diner’s perusal. A 2nd run — this time mimicking pink jade, which is rarer — is envisioned to launch in mid-April and is the newest in a amount of creative collaborations from Chifa.

Three women wearing candy jade jewelry pose together in front of a zebra-print background.

A family portrait of Rica Leon, clockwise from left, Coltrane Liu and “Popo” Wendy Leon all putting on the Chifa x Sweet Saba jade jewelry products.

(Samuel McGuire / Jarod Wang)

The heart-adorned blue-inexperienced restaurant serves Chinese, Peruvian and Taiwanese delicacies, a nod to the Leons’ cultural qualifications and their several years of living in Peru — the place their mom, “Popo” Wendy Leon, ran a Chinese restaurant, also named Chifa — as perfectly as the Taiwanese heritage of John Liu, Chifa’s chef and Rica’s spouse. But the Leons have a lot more than food on their brain. Chifa has managed to add vogue and art to the combine many times because its late 2020 opening.

As a vogue designer and innovative director, Humberto, a co-founder of international outfits manufacturer Opening Ceremony, is the principal catalyst, relying on his many years of expertise with artists and other contacts to collaborate on new clothing, painted figurines and dishes that can be found for sale at the restaurant. It was Humberto who imagined the likelihood of edible jade, but it was “Popo” Wendy who inspired it, and there was only just one particular person Humberto had in mind for the job.

New York-centered artist Maayan Zilberman is a kind of sugar alchemist. By her business, Sweet Saba, the haute confectioner makes use of her track record in sculpture and style to develop remarkably detailed — and at situations lifelike — candy molded in the condition of footwear, wine stoppers, bouquets, cassette tapes, snakes, crystals, timepieces, sun shades, bananas, trinket bins, feathers, pepperoni pizza, pencils, penne.

She’s normally employed by style models these kinds of as Dior, Versace and Nike for activities and product rollouts, building Chifa’s edible jade selection — which is crafted by hand — a single of the handful of likelihood for the public to invest in and flavor her perform. Zilberman, a pal of Humberto’s, desired to get this line — a tribute to his mother — just suitable.

“We started hunting at some of her jewellery that [had] been passed down — some of it by way of her family members for 400 a long time,” Zilberman suggests. “They’d been brought from China to Peru to L.A., and they’re seriously treasured to her. I reported, ‘What if we designed jewelry that is influenced by hers but that has far more of a lightness, much more of a perception of humor?’”

A photograph of Zilberman's hand, with bright red nails, carving the delicate molds for the edible jewelry.

Zilberman hand-carved polymer clay and wax samples, then built molds off individuals parts.

(Sweet Saba)

When Zilberman and Humberto commenced corresponding, he despatched pictures of his mother’s jade selection, as effectively as pics of her putting on some of her parts when she was young. He also presented a picture of himself wearing a traditional ring necklace tied with pink string, which he’s worn just about every day given that childhood and has been re-produced for the Chifa candy collection.

Zilberman hand-carved sweet molds that were being a little bit larger than the authentic issue for that air of humor the combine of classic bangles and oversized, practically cartoonishly scaled rings and pendants glance like serious jade, full with the stone’s marbling, an effect attained by mixing colors as they’re carefully poured into their molds. She also worked with a flavor residence to produce the lychee, guava and peach mix for the inexperienced jade.

“I experimented with at to start with to make them in massive batches, and it didn’t get the job done,” Zilberman states. “The authentic trick is earning only a few at a time because they have to be this sort of a compact batch to make the colour go ideal.” She wound up creating all the items herself, incorporating, “I could not retain the services of somebody to consider that type of time. They would have been $500 apiece if I had employed another person.” (At Chifa, the edible jewelry operates amongst $30 and $55 — hundreds much less than the price tag of actual jade at that scale.)

For the new line, Zilberman will use a handful of of the eco-friendly-jade molds and also make new kinds for the rarer pink jade, they’ll be doing some far more uncommon, intricate items. This time, the taste will most probably be coconut. (At the restaurant, some company try to eat them, but when requested, most say they’ll go away them in their packaging to conserve them for as prolonged as doable.)

When Zilberman and the Leons take pleasure in the playfulness of an edible line that replicates an ancient, revered stone with hundreds of several years of cultural record, they’ve begun talking about creating anything a very little more long-lasting, maybe utilizing resin instead than sugar. Zilberman hopes that these extra long lasting pieces would encourage other folks to learn about jade and Chinese culture, just as the sweet has currently accomplished for her and other people. “It’s a way to seriously join with his mom,” she suggests, “and hook up with an older technology that, in additional strategies than a single, needs to be protected suitable now.”

An overhead photo of an array of necklaces, bracelets and rings from the Chifa x Sweet Saba green jade collection.

Chifa will restock its inexperienced jade selection in early April and launch the new line of coconut-flavored pink jade in April as well.

(Samuel McGuire / Jarod Wang)