Carving a Delicious Path

Deidra Bowling-Meade

The Ashland Beacon


   Mothers always say, “Don’t play with your food.”  Fortunately, 17-year-old Liam Ferguson was encouraged by his mother to create whatever he envisioned, including the presentation of food.  Ferguson’s mother, Amber Ferguson, who is a blogger and music teacher, was trying to find inspiration for a gluten, dairy, and egg free recipe to feature in a blog.  Little did Ferguson’s mother know the hidden talent her son possessed until he showed her his strawberry masterpiece.  Ferguson came to his mother’s rescue and ended up being featured for his culinary genius in the June/July publicized magazine Cottages & Bungalows, where he created a rose-shaped bouquet out of strawberries.  

   Using a paring knife, Ferguson made a small diagonal slit at the base of the strawberry.  He continued making slits around the bottom of the strawberry until the cut pieces resembled petals.  It took approximately five slits for a medium strawberry.  Ferguson noted that the petals were fragile and must not be overhandled.  Holding the tip of the strawberry helped Ferguson to use the knife to gently open the petals downward.  Once the petals were made out of the strawberries, Ferguson placed each strawberry on the pointed end of a wooden skewer to arrange as a bouquet.  Ferguson says, “Presentation makes a difference.  There’s no point in having food that doesn’t look and taste good.”  

   Ferguson’s interest with culinary arts started the spring of 2020 when he started working in the commercial kitchen at Bellefonte Country Club.  Ferguson stated, “I began with basic food prep, such as salads and appetizers and then moved to working parties and banquets. I have several dietary restrictions and wanted to create food that looks appealing.  I don’t want to even try foods if they don’t look good.”  This led Ferguson to study on his own the science of taste.  Ferguson’s passion was evident as he explained molecular gastronomy in layman terms, “It’s why we like certain foods. The more appealing the food is, it draws us in.”  Unusual presentation techniques are part of molecular gastronomy, whether it’s carving strawberries into an eloquent bouquet of flowers or adding gas such as CO2 to pureed foods to produce foams.  

   When asked why learning the culinary arts is so important for this generation, Ferguson discussed the importance of “food tradition being passed on to family” and “changing the food culture from that of eating fast food to sitting at the table with family.”  Ferguson continued, “Food culture can tell a lot about where you’re from.”  Ferguson is proud of his roots and growing up in a family dedicated to the arts.  Ferguson will undoubtedly put Ashland on the map for his artistic talents, and also his passion and appreciation for quality food. Ferguson dreams of working in New York one day or even getting to try his hand at creating edible balloons from Alinea Restaurant in Chicago.  As a senior at Paul Blazer High School, Ferguson plans on applying to a culinary arts school and carving his own path. 

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