John Montgomery works for General Motors, rides dirt bikes… oh, and yeah… he carves intricate designs onto the surface of watermelons, soaps and vegetables – and sells them.
That’s right. His business, Brighter Melon LLC, supplies works of edible art for any occasion, from birthdays to corporate events. This culinary visionary has been featured on the Food Network’s “Sugar Dome” and even supplied a collection of carved pumpkins for Comerica Park’s World Series in 2012. How does one enter the world of fruit carving? John took time out of his busy schedule of carving, and teaching others, to tell BOJ exactly how it’s done.
BOJ: How? HOW!?
JM: In 2009, I was one of the many that got laid off when GM went bankrupt. During this time I decided to take a few classes and work toward an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts. While taking classes, I got a part time job at a local country club working in the kitchen and this is where I picked up and fell in love with fruit carving. I carved one watermelon or honeydew a day for about six months and I started to see myself improve.
BOJ: When did this seem like a profitable business venture?
JM: People began asking for carved melons for their parties and this is when I started marketing myself at local festivals. Now, I have been carving fruit for about three years and during this time was when Brighter Melon, LLC was born. I carve fruit and vegetable displays for all types of events including: weddings, open houses, birthdays, etc… I work with a few catering companies and I have also done work for Comerica Park, The Detroit Yacht Club and The Palace of Auburn Hills. When I have time I try to teach fruit carving classes at culinary schools throughout Michigan.
BOJ: How long does it take to carve a melon?
JM: Single melons take anywhere from 10 to 50 minutes depending on what I’m doing. Words take the most time.
BOJ: How many melons would you say you have carved to date?
JM: I really don’t know on this one… but if I had to say, maybe a couple thousand melons – between practicing and selling them.
BOJ: What was your most difficult project to date?
JM: Faces and pictures are the hardest. The bigger displays just take time not so much hard. Designs are all done on the spot of carving them. Mind over matter, I guess.
BOJ: What was your most memorable experience with fruit carving?
JM: Food network was a good memorable one but I really enjoy when set up pieces for festivals and bridal shows. Maybe its all the complements and comments that I hear right in person.
BOJ: What was it like being a part of the Food Network’s “Sugar Dome” competition?
JM: Food Network was awesome .. they flew me out to California .. put me in a hotel .. payed for all my food .. and payed me for the week I was there .. It was my first time being on a plane and really leaving Michigan other then Ohio and North Carolina when I was younger.
BOJ: What does the future hold for Brighter Melon LLC?
JM: Future plans for Brighter Melon would be to continue on marketing and working with catering companies, culinary schools, and people to deliver and teach about fruit carving.
BOJ: What would you say to those looking to enter the world of fruit carving?
JM: I’d say to just grab a knife and try it out .. my first melons weren’t the best but I have seen myself getting better. It makes for a good hobby and pastime.