Pinch Food Design Wants You to Play with Your Food

Photo of small plate food items beautifully displayed with birch trees

Bavarian everything pretzels on a copper pipe where partygoers do the limbo; three-foot helium balloons that serve as floating trays for Pavlovas; a doughnut umbrella; a self-serve cocktail wall with booze dispensed via turkey baster. It sounds like a party Alice in Wonderland might throw, but these are the whimsical creations of Pinch Food Design, co-founded by Bob Spiegel '82.

Spiegel, along with his Chef de Cuisine Liana Rivera '10 and Pastry Chef Victoria Fusaro '10, have garnered accolades from Food + Wine to New York’s glitterati for the catering company’s fairytale “food furniture.” Their corporate client list includes Google, Christie’s Auction House, Viacom, Nike and the Museum of Modern Art. Plus, they have a gorgeous cookbook: “Inspired Bites: Unexpected Ideas for Entertaining from Pinch Food Design.”

The company’s name has 3 meanings, Spiegel explains. “We [Spiegel and Co-founder and Creative Director TJ Girard, who worked in the art department for shows such as “Friends” and “Two and a Half Men”] wanted people to leave these events where the client would get a great return on their investment. People would think, ‘That was amazing!’ as in, ‘Pinch me, am I dreaming?’ Also, a pinch is provocative, and the third meaning was that we weren’t taking the limelight, as in a pinch is a small something that makes something larger better, like a pinch of saffron.”

Rivera appreciates how Johnson & Wales pushed her for “the reality of the culinary field and not the fantasy. They trained me as a manager and leader.”

Fusaro’s pastry education at JWU — especially the sugar and chocolate sculptures — prepped her for the amazing hanging desserts she does for Pinch, among other inventions.

The interactive presentations are first “auditioned,” says Spiegel. “We have extensive food and design collaborations with samples, mockups and tests.” Next up in their bag of tricks? A food photo booth. Say cheese!

Follow Pinch Food Design on Twitter + Instagram. Read the New York Times profile of Pinch here. This article appears in the Spring 2018 issue of JWU Magazine.


Trio of JWU alumni who work at Pinch Food Design in New York City.