Little did Mark Northeast know that the day his four-year-old son refused to eat his lunch was a day that would change his life.
The UK-based 36-year-old father of two set about trying to tempt his stubborn pre-schooler by making a nutritious novelty sandwich. ‘Oscar was in a really bad mood when I collected him from pre-school, and when I asked him what he wanted for lunch, he grumpily replied, “Nothing!”’ he explains.
So, without saying a word, Mark made his son a sandwich shaped like a rocket. ‘I placed it in front of him and there was a delighted, “Wow!” A minute later the sandwich was gone,’ he recalls.
His son’s enthusiasm wasn’t lost on Mark and a few days later he found himself presenting Oscar with another novelty sandwich. ‘As a web-designer, I’m involved in a creative industry where you often find yourself thinking outside the box. The idea has always been about opening the fridge and thinking: Let’s sees what we can do with this. And I try to make them as healthy as possible,’ he explains.
One snack led to another and, soon, Mark found himself posting photos of the culinary creations onto his Facebook page. ‘My friends really loved them and soon they began to make requests. After I’d made a few more of their suggestions, I decided to give the sandwiches their own website. As that’s what I do professionally it was very easy, and things really went crazy from there.’
But, despite the complexity of some of his designs, he claims they are all easy and quick to make – usually taking between 10 to 20 minutes. ‘I’d already pitched the idea in my head a couple of days before I made the grand piano,’ he says of his most challenging sandwich to date. ‘Getting it to stand up was tough but, once I have an idea, I have to follow it through. I drew a few sketches of the sandwich and then put it all together.’
He adds, ‘With all the initial designs, you have to bear in mind that I was working against the clock with a small hungry person saying every few minutes, “Is it ready yet?” So I couldn’t take too long fiddling about with them. ’
The popularity of Mark’s site has now led to a sandwich recipe book of his creations, which should be available early next year.
For more information visit www.funkylunch.com.
The caterpillar challenge
At Time Out Kids we’re somewhat creatively challenged, but we made this ‘funky lunch’ masterpiece in just under 10 minutes.
Makes one caterpillar for one hungry little muncher
You will need:
Four slices of bread
One small cucumber
Cream cheese (the sandwich filler)
One firm cherry tomato
One red grape
• Make two sandwiches and cut out four rounds from each with a small round pastry cutter
• Make two holes in the top of the cherry tomato with a cocktail stick and cut two thin slivers of cucumber for antennae
• Stick the slivers into the holes. Cut a thin slice of cucumber and shape it with nail scissors into the mouth and eyeballs
• Stick them (using the cream cheese) to the tomato and then use the skin of the grape to make pupils
• Cut round slices of cucumber into triangle wedges for the legs
• Nail scissors are great for the fiddly bits
• Cream cheese sticks everything together
Four year old’s verdict:
‘It’s brilliant! But I’m still not eating the cucumber.’