What is pancake art?
I’ve recently been asked this question as I commissioned the video above. In its making, I had the pleasure of working with this very unique artist—Nathan Shields—who creates art via pancakes at Sai Pancakes.
Shields has spent the past five years perfecting his pancake craft—that’s equal parts food and art—through experimentation. He details his creations, recipes and tools on his website and YouTube—but as any home cook might realize, success is sometimes more about passion and skill. What’s clear is that his background as an illustrator and math teacher put him stacks above others and certainly factors into his fans’ rave reviews of his work.
From celebrities to animals and everything in between, Shields turns flour and water into edible art that’s found a following the world over. In fact, Shields even makes a few “fancakes” from his viewers’ suggestions—although his inspiration also comes from his kids (Alice and Gryphon) and “sometimes I’ll take inspiration from the social zeitgeist.”
It seems that there’s nothing Shields won’t tackle in a pan, but his pancake art experiment started simply—for his young kids when they lived in Saipan for nine months. “When Alice and Gryphon were one and three, I tried making some pancake shapes for them using a spoon to drop the batter on the pan,” he recalls. “I think a lot of parents have probably discovered this. I tried again the next week, laying down a zebra’s stripes first, and letting them darken before adding the rest of the design. This received rave reviews from the audience of two.”
Now living in Port Angeles, WA, his work is in high demand professionally and garners a satiating commission. Yet Nathan and his wife Cheri donate a portion of the revenue from every commissioned work to charity. “I did some year-end bookkeeping and we were able to support quite a few humanitarian, scientific and environmental causes thanks to the power of pancakes,” Shields reveals. And he kindly donated his time and talent to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals this holiday season.
See more of Sai Pancakes on Instagram.