Gianluigi Bonelli, executive chef at Kee Club in Central, likes to do things differently. His recently released book, MakeUp Concept, which promises 'new texture, new combination, new presentation - the dessert of tomorrow!', can't really be called a cookbook. Rather, in a manner similar to the El Bulli books by Spanish chef Ferran Adria, with whom Bonelli worked for three months, it offers beautiful pictures of desserts, but no recipes, just a list of ingredients. Furthermore, each dessert in the book is 'not finished'. Bonelli explains, 'Tiramisu is finished, cheesecake is finished. [My] desserts are for tomorrow. They are about exploration.' Almost half of the desserts are a form of soup, which Bonelli says comes from tasting so many kinds in Hong Kong.
The book, designed, created and financed entirely by Bonelli, comprises 300 colour photos. Facing each photo is a list of words that have the effect of abstract poetry. One dessert, made almost entirely of crushed ingredients, reads 'dust/dust/dust/dust/dust/dust...'.
It is dedicated to Albert Adria (Ferran Adria's brother and the pastry chef at El Bulli), who wrote the prologue to the book. A few desserts have simple descriptions ('Evolution!/B'; bottom right), while others are more detailed: 'Caradamom/Green/Apple/Jam/Toasted/Corn' (centre right). Some read more like chemistry experiments than desserts: 'Smoked/Chocolate/HN2)/Egg/Syrup/Onion/Mango/Compote' (top right) and 'Beer/Lego/Flour/Liquid/Caramel/N2/Zabaglione'.
Bonelli says the idea for the book came about in 1999. 'I was in Italy and I read a Japanese magazine filled with photos of make-up. I thought they looked like dessert.' He decided to create the book to mark his 20th anniversary as a chef. It took two years to complete and Bonelli calls it 'my baby'. Endless hours went into the book's production. 'I took 6,000 photos to make 300,' Bonelli says.
Only 100 copies of the book are available in Hong Kong; the remainder of the initial print run of 500 has been purchased by a bookseller in Spain. Bonelli says the bookseller has proposed buying the copyright and publishing 10,000 copies - with recipes added - to be printed in four languages.
If you want to buy a copy of MakeUp Concept, call Kee Club on 2826 2621. It costs $800.