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Carved fruit
Carved watermelon by Ruben Arroco, Carved fruit, 2013; Ruben Arroco; Lowell, Massachusetts; Photography by Maggie Holtzberg
Carved watermelon by Ruben Arroco, Carved fruit, 2013
Ruben Arroco
Lowell, Massachusetts
Photography by Maggie Holtzberg
Ruben Arroco carving watermelon at home kitchen; Carved fruit; 2013: Lowell, Massachusetts
Close up of carving watermelon; Carved fruit; 2013: Lowell, Massachusetts
Phil Lupsiewicz filming Ruben Arroco at home; Carved fruit; 2013: Lowell, Massachusetts
Ruben Arroco carving fruit at the Lowell Folk Festival; Carved fruit; 2013: Lowell, Massachsuetts
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Ruben Arroco
Lowell, MA
The art of fruit and vegetable carving is said to have originated in Thailand over 700 years ago. Ruben Arroco learned to carve during his training as a hotel chef in the Philippines. &$34;There is a place in the Philippines where people there make a living out of carving wood. Some of those guys, I was lucky enough to work with in the hotel. If you can carve wood, you can carve this -- so I kind of learned it from them." Ruben went on to work as an executive chef for 30 years before starting his own business, Culinary Artworks, Inc.

Ruben uses a specialized stainless steel to make most of his own tools. Picking up one he made which creates V-cuts in one movement he explains, "Even just making simple V-cuts transforms it and gives it that nicer look. Separation of the petals from the part that you carved, that's very important."

One might wonder how it feels to make art that is so ephemeral. "Even though it took me seven hours to make," Ruben admits, "it always feels like it only took me a half hour, when everybody likes it . . . Most of the time, we bring it to the party and then they call me back and say, 'We have a problem.' 'Why, what happened?' 'Nobody wants to touch it!' "
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