From Fashion to Food: Chef Demi Unique Bunn's Visually Expressive Menus

Private chef, recipe developer, and founder of Masticate, Demi Unique Bunn, takes her background in food and design to new levels.

Chef Demi Unique Bunn’s Visually Expressive Menus

Photo Cred: Chef Demi Unique Bunn

Chef Demi Unique Bunn is an amalgam of the culinary world, with a design-focused approach to cooking that blends her love for fashion and art. Through pop-up dinners, she shares her passion for creating culinary art while making space for communities to thrive.

"I'm heavily influenced by art and the fashion world, so I try to incorporate everything I love into my work. My inspiration comes from my family and, just generally, Blackness. As far as what I put on the plate, I enjoy the ability to surprise people with what I put on the plate."

Chef Demi Unique Bunn’s Visually Expressive Menus

Chef Demi's journey to becoming a chef started with family

Memories of holidays and food were core to the reason she entered the business. At her food business, Masticate, she centers her motivations around creating unique food experiences that remind her of hosting a family party.

"We were kind of like the party house, like the family kind where people come over into like these dinners for the holidays. Just being around family has a huge influence on how I look at food, which is really just like a tool of connection. Food is a universal tool to connect with people, even if we don't speak the same language; it can bring people together."

Chef Demi Unique Bunn’s Visually Expressive Menus

Her passion for cooking began when she was six years old when she attended church services every Sunday. In the nearby kitchen, she heard the sounds of chopping and frying, and the aromas of mac and cheese, collard greens, and fried chicken filled the entire church. She’d sneak into the kitchen, where she learned how to use a knife and prep vegetables. Through these small opportunities to learn, she became fascinated with the lively energy of kitchens and emulated it wherever she could.

Combining her passions for fashion and food

Demi pursued her studies as a multi-disciplinary artist at the Fashion Institute of Design Merchandising (FIDM) and the Institute of Culinary Education. Demi’s fashion background plays a significant role in her recipe-making – extending to how she crafts menus and designs her food. As she switched from her job in the fashion industry, she turned to food to flex her creativity with visually stunning dishes.

Chef Demi Unique Bunn’s Visually Expressive Menus

Creating recipes to pass down generations

Plant-based meals became a source of experimentation, allowing her to recreate dishes only using vegetables. Demi’s current favorite dish to curate is the vegan gumbo she tasted on a trip to New Orleans. Spending time with a friend’s grandmother, she learned how to make traditional gumbo using shellfish and animal products. However, returning home, she utilized mushrooms and matched the flavor profile, and she recreated the flavors only using plant-based ingredients.

"When I created my vegan gumbo, I wasn't using anybody else's recipe or anything like that. It was just my ancestors and me and, you know, in the kitchen. So, when I finally came up with that recipe, I was so proud. I thought I could pass this down through generations. That was the first recipe I made that I felt like, 'Oh, this needs to be in the family.'"

Demi crafts her culinary style from her travels, continuously exploring traditional cuisine and indigenous techniques. On her travels, she finds locals’ kitchens to observe how people cook and use different ingredients. From her international trips to Peru or South Africa and her domestic travels from Maryland to the Carolinas, she immerses herself as a continuous student.

Chef Demi Unique Bunn’s Visually Expressive Menus

Breaking down the walls between fashion and food, Demi makes endlessly innovative designs and pushes the boundaries of culinary art. Developing her passion for research and combining cooking techniques from across the diaspora, Demi hopes to create new recipes and flavors to be passed down from generation to generation.

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