'Grew up in the ghetto...but I surpassed the worst'

'Grew up in the ghetto...but I surpassed the worst'

People You met

Sunday, June 30, 2019

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Fifth in a new feature giving a snapshot of the lives and thoughts of people you see on the streets daily. Sunday Observer reporter Sharlene Hendricks speaks to Kimarley Russel, a 27-year-old customs broker clerk by day, but whose labour of love is food art and volunteerism.

National Heroes' Circle, Kingston.

I grew up in the ghetto, in Gregory Park. I didn't have life easy but I had to make use of the little that I had. How I started out with the whole fruit carving thing was after I left college. Food in general was always my passion, but I studied accounts at the EXED Community College.

I didn't do foods any at all. But after working as a customs broker for a while, I decided that I would need a second income. I went to HEART and I did the programme back in 2015. On the first day, someone demonstrated and I said I would try it.

Ever since that day, I started buying melons every day to practice. I went on and I did level three in 2017. I started doing my own little edible arrangements for teacher's day and other events. I started practising by carving out people's faces, just to get better. It took me over two years to master it.

I also volunteer. That is how I develop my skills more. I volunteer at smaller institutions like primary and high schools. I do demonstrations in the schools and tell them about where I am coming from and people see my work and just gravitate towards it.

This is what I decided to invest my time and money in because I said to myself, rather than buy shoes or clothes, I would buy a melon each day that I am going home and I practise. That is what brought me to this point where I can make money other than from my day job.

I even operate a small catering service. I do food, but my specialty is the carving. But if it reaches a point where it is generating enough income, I might go into it full time. But food art has always been my passion. I guess that is what gives me the drive to come this far with it.

I wouldn't say I am perfect at it, but I am at a point now where I have surpassed the worst.

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