Want to wow your friends and family with a Thanksgiving centerpiece that isn't your typical snorenucopia, er, cornucopia? Then check out this incredibly intricate replica of the High Line, one of our favorite parks in NYC, that is made of recycled materials and, more importantly, vegetarian edibles like stuffing, mashed potatoes and yummy veggies. Head to our NYC site to see the delicious details of this miniature wonderland - like enoki mushroom versions of James Corner and Ricardo Scofidio, train tracks made of tofu, and a water feature made of blue agar agar jelly. Plus, learn how to make your own version for this Thursday's festivities out of old sushi takeout boxes and wooden chopsticks!
This is probably the most important step – WASH YOUR HANDS! Since you’ll be handling food that people are going to eat, it’s really important that your hands are clean. Also clean all of the takeout containers.
Take some of your mashed potatoes and fill one of the takeout containers. Flatten and smooth it with a spatula or spoon. This surface will act as the ground of the High Line.
Start marking out the irregular parallel lined pattern that the High Line is known for by dragging a fork gently across the surface of the mashed potatoes. Our mini High Line isn’t 100% exact, but if you want to be precise about where to place the lines, use this handy dandy aerial view map.
Chop up some your chives and broccoli and start “planting” them into your mashed potato landscape where the trees, shrubs and trees of the High Line are. Feel free to get creative here – you can certainly use other veggies if you want. You can even “plant” grass by using tweezers and placing bits of dried rosemary one by one into the mashed potatoes. Or – if you’re a normal person with a life – just sprinkle some wasabi-flavored sesame seeds.
Cut some of the soymeat into strips for the “train tracks”. We should clarify that the soymeat we used is the kind that is dark brown on the outside and tan on the inside. Slice the brown outer layer off first and cut it into thin strips for the metal railroad beams and then cut the tan inside into planks for the wooden part of the tracks. Place those gently onto your mashed potato landscape first and then layer the dark brown strips on top.
Now it’s time to make the rest of the “landscape architecture,” which is really all up to you. It’s a good idea to start by dividing each takeout box into one distinct zone and then populate it with plants, benches, people etc. Here’s how we divvied ours up:
Box 1: Gansevoort stair, beginning of railroad tracks
Box 2: Beginning of woodlands
Box 3: The thick of the woodlands
Box 4: The sundeck and sunning chairs
Box 5: Water feature and 10th Ave. Plaza
See more detailed instructions on how we made some of these features here.
After you’ve completed your “foodscape architecture,” it’s time to raise your creation up! Here’s where the chopsticks come into play. For the configuration we made, you’ll need 4 “risers,” which are essentially just 4 full chopsticks glued to 4 half chopsticks to create a 3-D rectangle, but feel free to make your mini High Line even longer and more robust than ours using even more risers and boxes. Depending on how long your table is, you might be able to fit in the whole High Line!
To create the half chopsticks, we just sawed full chopsticks in half and then used a hot glue gun filled with wood glue to attach the half chopsticks to the full chopsticks to make the risers. Once that’s done, paint all of your risers black.
Next, make the stairs and railings. For the stairs, we used a strip of black paper folded up accordion style and for the railings, we folded up strips of paper the same length as each takeout box, cut out a rectangular notch and then unfolded them to reveal a fence shape. Pop your railings right into the sides of your mashed potatoes.
Last but not least, line up your risers and pop your landscaped takeout boxes on top. You might want to secure them with glue depending on how rowdy you think your friends and fam are gonna get. Then surround the whole thing with your Thanksgiving Day dishes and bask in glow of your creation!
People will probably be wondering if they are allowed to nosh on your High Line, so let them know that it’s definitely encouraged. But if there are leftovers, guess what? Just pop the clear tops of the takeout boxes right on and you can give them to your guests to take home with them!
We hope you enjoyed this DIY tutorial and we hope you have a happy Thanksgiving!
Photos © Yuka Yoneda