Tricks of the trade: watermelon’s colors make it one of Tuz’s favorites

Ask Willy Tuz about spending hours contentedly turning carrots into edible roses and sculpting pumpkins into ghouls and the subject always comes back to watermelon.

“My favorite is the watermelon because there are so many colors,” he said, his eyes lighting up. “Four distinct colors and by shaving lightly and being careful you can get more.

“I also like to put a light in one to bring out the red colors.”

His preferred working tool is a simple five-inch, black-handled bird’s beak knife, custom honed to where it slips easily through a melon’s tough rind.

“See how it does?” he asked, carving out a paper-thin slice around a watermelon rose petal. “It does good on watermelon because it’s so sharp, the watermelon doesn’t feel hard. It’s like writing on something.”

He also uses a special vegetable carving knife, long and thin-bladed, like an Exacto knife with a sparkly red handle.

His business has grown to where he’s busy most weekends, turning fresh fruit into works of art.

“Also, I’m ServSafe certified,” he said. “Now I can do edible stuff.”

ServSafe is a food and beverage safety training and certificate program administered by the National Restaurant Association.

Culinary carving declined a bit in popularity about a decade ago but recently its appeal has been growing, Tuz said.

“You even see food shows, like on the Food Network, about fruit carving,” he said. “I next want to enter the Food Network Pumpkin Challenge. That would be really cool.”

The grand winner of that competition pockets a medal and $10,000, which will buy you lot of watermelons.

You can see more of Tuz’s culinary carvings at http://www.willyswildcarvings.com and http://www.moonfarm.net.

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