I’m Stuffed: Edible Taxidermy

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th August 2014
By Hollie Bligh   Elle Kaye - credit to Johnny Perryman Colbert Nose-to-tail eating has been growing in popularity since Fergus Henderson’s release of ‘The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating’ in 2004, however Elle Kaye has taken this non-wasteful approach to a whole new level with her ‘Edible Taxidermy’. Elle, 22, is one of the country's youngest professional taxidermist and is passionate about not letting any part of an animal go to waste. Her edible taxidermy means that none of the animal is wasted, the meat is used to create dishes such as ‘rabbit kidneys and liver served on sweet brioche toast with edible fresh flower’ and the skins and furs being used for Elle’s art. In 2013 Elle became lead tutor for the London Taxidermy Academy. Since, she has opened Elle Kaye Taxidermy classes and workshops, teaching both privately and group bookings, in Kew Bridge and Hertfordshire. insides resizedHow did you get into taxidermy? “I got into taxidermy through my love of animal biology and conservation. I grew up wanting to study veterinary science, but followed an artistic career studying Fine Art at university. I realised whilst I was there that my interest in anatomy and animal biology was too great to ignore so I started to think of ways in which I could incorporate it into my practice. “I thought that it would be an incredible feat to have a tangible animal in front of me, and to illustrate the beauty of an animal (feathers, fur etc). I tried a taxidermy class once in the City, and realised how rewarding and fascinating it was. I've never really looked back, and most of the things I work on now have been self-taught.” Have you always kept the meat? “I have been a taxidermist for several years now, and eating the meat from the specimens has always been something I have done. One of the main reasons I do taxidermy is to recycle and conserve animals, as a big meat eater myself, it makes no sense to discard the carcass when it can be utilised. Taxidermy is more of a lifestyle choice for me, and each component is used for something separate.” What response have you had from edible taxidermy?insides 2 “On the whole, the response has been extremely positive, which is fantastic. I have had many similar comments thanking me for finally doing an edible taxidermy workshop. It seems people are keen to learn that I wholly recycle the specimens, and it has inspired others to think about their usage.” Do you think more taxidermists will be encouraged to start saving the meat? “I hope more taxidermists will adopt this lifestyle. For me it contradicts the whole notion of taxidermy, to throw away perfectly good, and often very sought after meats.” deer resizedWhat animal’s meat have you eaten? Are there any you wouldn’t eat? “I have eaten all of the game I work on, pheasant, partridge, grouse, venison, waterfowl, peafowl, hare, rabbit, and squirrel. I would not eat a fox (although it isn't unheard of), or a badger, purely because they carry a lot of disease and the coarseness of their fur means they trap a lot more dirt and thus more contaminate. Most of the animals I eat come from organic farms or wild areas of the countryside in the UK.” What do people get to do in your taxidermy classes? “People who attend my classes do everything from the skinning to the mounting. They will leave with their mounted specimen. Whether they are a beginner, amateur or professional, I teach a very traditional method of taxidermy that is labour intensive and time consuming, but doesn't cut any corners.” Have you ever had any unusual requests?duck resized “I refuse any requests I don't feel comfortable doing; I want to do the animal justice, not become a puppeteer.” Taxidermy has earned itself a bad reputation, Elle’s work celebrates the revival of the craft through emphasis on the aesthetic. She doesn’t view death as disgusting or offensive but that all creatures are beautiful in death as well as life. Her edible taxidermy can be seen as ethical, economical and a way of promoting recycling.
The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th August 2014

I’m Stuffed: Edible Taxidermy