Introduce yourself to Larisa Yemelina. Although she easily looks the part of a master gardener, she’s in fact a Ukrainian sugar artist working with floral and vegetal motifs. Though they don’t take root or bud, her horticultural confections would blend right in with the prize perennials at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
Amazingly, Yemelina, 48, never received any formal artistic training, focusing more on a technical education as a young woman. She began making her saccharine flowers as a hobby, just for fun, around five years ago. But after some public posts on social media began to spread, several people asked her to teach them her secrets, and Yemelina began receiving invitations to compete in challenges with other sugar experts.
Of a very modest and even shy nature, Yemelina has no desire to become exorbitantly wealthy or famous off her delicate creations. She doesn’t even advertise herself; her chief priority is to focus on making flowers that appear as realistic as possible. Though the adrenaline and thrill of culinary contests are another matter entirely. She couldn’t help but bite when big-time competitions started to come knocking last year to ask her to participate, and now she has something of an excellent track record to uphold.
In 2015 she won two gold medals at the Kiev Best Cook Fest and three gold medals in the arts division of Moscow’s international championship Food Show, where she also took home the honeyed title Miss Queen of Flowers. This year has also been full of promise and honours for Yemelina; she swept Kharkov, Ukraine’s international Agro Cook Fest with three gold medals and one silver (since one participant can only be awarded three gold medals maximum), and was named the winner of the Grand Prix at Kiev’s 2016 International Championship Best Cook Fest.
In January she’ll jet off to Istanbul, Turkey where she looks forward to rolling up her sleeves to keep rivals at bay and to impress a panel of judges with an entirely new candied bouquet.
Keep scrolling down to see a floral arrangement of sorts of Yemelina’s work and enjoy one of the sweetest forms art can take.