The V&A’s ground-breaking exhibition FOOD: Bigger than the Plate will feature five cheeses made from the bacteria of celebrities, as part of a project that looks to explore the importance of microbes and gut health.
A host of bold celebrities selected their own type of cheese favourites with rapper Professor Green’s choosing mozzarella, former Blur bassist Alex James and Madness frontman Suggs’ both opting for Cheddar, stilton being the choice of baker Ruby Tandoh’s and a Comte was fashioned from chef Heston Blumenthal’s belly button.
All five cheeses will appear in a refrigerated display at the V&A museum in South Kensington, which explores how innovative individuals and communities are reinventing how we grow, distribute and experience food.
Called Selfmade, the idea of making cheese from human bacteria was conceived in 2013 by smell researcher Sissel Tolaas and biologist and artist Christina Agapakis. Aiming to challenge the squeamishness surrounding bacteria and highlighting the importance of keeping our guts healthy, Selfmade draws on recent scientific studies of the microbiome and its importance in how the human body functions.
To create the cheeses, bacteria samples were swabbed from the surface of the celebrities’ skin – including arm pits, noses and belly buttons – using microbiology techniques to grow starter cultures, which were then combined with pasteurised milk to create five unique cheeses.
Taking visitors on a sensory journey through the food cycle, from compost to table, the exhibition poses questions about how the collective choices we make can lead to a more sustainable, just and delicious food future, in unexpected and playful ways.
To purchase your tickets for FOOD: Bigger than the Plate or to find out more, click here.