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Milan-based chef hands luxury brands on a plate

Nadja Beschetnikova
March 1, 2018

Replicas of fashion brands usually give some people a good laugh, while others can hardly suppress their laughter when they see fashionistas, camping in front of the stores the night before another coveted model is on sale.   
Adorned with Swarovski crystals or covered with bold brand names, the simple sports shoes rose to the luxury level.

If you don’t have enough self-possession to endure the queue, or can’t afford Kanye’s creations, you’ll probably be in the mood to eat your feelings.

In Milan, you can find the most fashionable comfort food.

Meet Yujia Hu, aka @onigiriart, a sushi chef combing his love of footwear and cooking. Hu carefully crafts tiny and tasty replicas of contemporary footwear fashion, incorporating various pop culture elements into his edible creations.

Hu is originally from China, but he has been living in Milan since he was eight years old. His family owns a Japanese restaurant in Milan, and Hu had to leave the art school when he was 18 to support the family business.

However, he took his artistic taste with him. When Hu isn’t busy behind the counter at his family’s restaurant, he turns the kitchen into designer’s studio. The only difference is the materials. Instead of luxurious fabrics and leather, he creates his fashionable masterpieces from rice, raw fish, and nori.

The onigiri wizard invented his own trend called «shoeshi». The recreations of the most popular and hyped footwear are 100% edible.

The first pair of sneaker Hu reproduced was the Nike Air Jordan. As a passionate basketball fan, he started his creative escape from the traditional sushi, shaping NBA superstars during his off-hours. Hu said, that the initial idea behind this fusion of food and art was to promote the restaurant, Sakana Sushi, and get more publicity. Though Hu claims that his compatriots are not really mesmerized by the artistic sushi, because the culture around food is very traditional in Italy.

Now his designs vary from elegant Dolce&Gabbana heels and Gucci sweatshirts to Adidas socks.
Having succeeded in shoemaking, Hu tries his creative skills in portraying people, who kicked up a fuss about sneakers mania, namely rappers. Lil Uzi Vert was one of the most difficult portraits to recreate. The work took about 40 minutes, while normally every shoe takes Hu about 15 minutes to produce.

Hu admits, that he has always listened to hip-hop music, and his fusion of food and art is influenced by rappers and their way of style. Another source of inspiration is his girlfriend who works in fashion and definitely provides Hu with the latest trends from the fashion weeks backstages.

Hu gives his creation funny nicknames. You can find Anti sooshi sooshi club hoodie, Gushi sweatshirt and Susheme streetwear in his edible collections. The latter (and it’s a homage on Supreme if you don’t recognize it) is, by the way, one of Hu’s favorite brand.

His Instagram, full of shoe-shaped delicacies, boasts almost 40.000 followers, so Yujia’s dream to collaborate with some big brand is not groundless. Food art itself is not a fresh idea, which could surprise an experienced Internet user. We’ve seen Chewbacca noodles, Octopus lollipops, Michelangelo carved from bananas and countless vegetable portraits. And the traditional Japanese food served as a colorful palette for numerous mosaics.

But Hu is an influencer, who is successfully proactive on the borderline between two most popular themes on the blogosphere. He is both a foodie blogger and a fashion blogger. Bingo! Many celebrities such as Steve Aoki and Trippie Redd, already noticed and praised his creations. Why should Supreme’s designers stay unimpressed then?

Today Hu is extending his culinary into the segment of modern art, selling photographs of his edible masterpieces, for about $25 each.
Who knows, if he’ll move to New York, as he dreams, maybe there’ll be a shoeshi gallery?

Meanwhile, Milan is still indispensable when you need to satisfy your hunger for both luxurious fashion and delicious food.