Flashmob Spendapenny is probably the UK’s leading Chip Design Engineer. Ever since the heyday of the crinkle-cut chip a few decades ago, gastronomic designers have been working hard to produce a new style of chip suitable for the 21st Century.
There have been many attempts to develop a new chip style for the zeitgeist of the new Century. But even now, over a decade and a half into that new century, chip artists, engineers and designers do not feel they have managed to capture the full nature of the chip. Nor have they found what the chip means to the average British consumer in the 21st century.
Of course, there are some, mainly far away from the metropolitan artist circles – and without access to Arts Council funding – who claim that ‘a chip is just a chip’. However, gastronomic art critics all feel that the chip – as a British icon – needs artistic input to become a valid art form seen as an icon of Great British design. Especially if this means Spendapenny’s new concept of chip gets features on the covers of expensive magazines. It will have to be a chip capable of being eaten by rock stars and film stars, internet billionaires, and cutting-edge broadsheet and broadcast art critics at some of the most fashionable – and expensive – chip shops throughout the more exclusive locations around the world.
After all, as many have argued, the British chip has seen off nearly all its international competition to become the prominent form of deep fried potato eaten around the world. Far surpassing the much inferior American so-called French fry’, beating off stiff competition from the pommess frites of France, and even toppling the once-mighty Belgian chip itself from the gastronomic pinnacle.
Many cite the invention of the frozen oven chip as the breakthrough that led to this cultural dominance in the mass market. However, many others especially those with an interest in gourmet chip design believe it is the result of desperate competition amongst top-flight chip designers and deep frying engineers, like Spendapenny, to come up with a modern, well-designed chip. A chip that has all the properties of the traditional chip shop chip for edibility, but can still be sold to upmarket consumers as a hip, happening food of the moment. This has led the breakthrough into other forms of deep fried potato. From thin curly chips, often derided as no better than fast food outlet French fries, to hand cooked chunky chips with the skin still on, to experiments with curry sauce, gravy, cheese sauce, various herbs and spices, even different forms of cooking oil and cooking fat.
This frenzy of development has led to this explosion in various forms of Spendapenny-designed chips now described in loving prose on upmarket restaurant menus – and of course served in all manner of non-plate ways from individual metal chip baskets to a freshly dog-chewed slipper or flat cap on the trendier restaurant tables.
But however, it is ‘improves’, designed’ or ‘evolved’ the British chip is still at heart the British chip, and it seems it will remain that way for a long time to come, thanks to the work of Spendapenny. We hope, anyway.