Bompas & Parr is no ordinary catering outfit. Described as architectural foodsmiths, jellymongers and culinographers, cofounder Sam Bompas puts it best. “What we try and do is give people incredible experiences related to their everyday lives, but primarily linked to what’s on the end of their fork.”
Along with childhood friend Harry Parr, Bompas has cooked steaks over lava, created an intoxicating gin and tonic room, flooded the roof of London’s Selfridges to make a boating lake, and built a church organ that actively changes your sense of taste as it plays.
Yet formulated some eight years ago, the business has humble beginnings. “We wanted to do something really fun on the weekend,” says the 31-year-old.
So we thought we’d get a stall at Borough Market selling jelly. It was a hot summer and a lot of the food seemed rather stodgy. We thought we could do something delightful and wobbly.
The stall fell through, so they began experimenting. Soon Parr, a trained architect, found he could make moulds for jelly from 3D-printed building models. “Within a month of us starting with the jellies an article had been written saying we could make jellies in any shape and any size,” says Bompas.
“Someone called us up and wanted a jelly the size and shape of Warwick Castle – which we knew was impossible. By the time they were off the phone we had agreed we’d make a 12-course 4,000 calorie Victorian breakfast. We had to learn how to cook.”
With that, Bompas & Parr began its transformation from extravagant jelly makers, to Willy Wonka-style designers. But while the projects span New York, London and Dubai, its founders have always favoured fun over formality.
“We’ve never really had a business plan, but we’ve always had wild dreams,” says Bompas. “The code we live by is drawn from William Blake. ‘The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.’ So in anything that we do – design, uniforms, food, the whole lot, we like to really push boundaries. And hopefully, along the way, we learn something.”
Sam Bompas is Co-Founder of Bompas & Parr.