As a gamer, it’s often difficult to find original spaces on-line to see people enjoying my favorite hobby in an original way. Daniella Zelli is an impossibly brilliant gamer who decided one day to combine her passion for cooking, games and beautiful photography into one concept: Gourmet Gaming. Her site is dedicated to replicating those often delicious-looking dishes we find while exploring dungeons, fighting thugs on the streets and role-playing through vibrant and exciting worlds.
Her recipes are often brilliant in terms of flavor index. As a foodie myself, I always enjoy trying new dishes and now I think we’re all lucky enough to have Daniella’s site to look at in terms of providing a delicious gaming experience. It’s incredibly powerful to see someone with such passion for gaming take the art form in a different and exciting direction. Some of the delicious dishes that she’s made include The Lil’ Gyro from Saint’s Row, Strawberry Tart from Catherine and a personal favorite, The Peanut Cheese Bar from my all-time favorite video game, Earthbound.
Rob: What is your background with gaming? What titles interest you or continue to interest you?
Daniella: I’ve been playing games since I was about four years old. I was very fortunate that I grew up surrounded by gamers and sci-fi fans, I’m not sure how I would have coped with “normal” parents.
I love playing adventure games or survival horror, like Tomb Raider or Silent Hill. I also can’t pass up a puzzle game; Myst and Phantasmagoria rank insanely highly for me. My favourite game of all time is Shadow of Memories though (Shadow of Destiny in the USA), it was the first title I got for my PS2. It’s an incredibly unique game, but it’s genre seems to be creeping back into modern gaming. “Cult” games are becoming pretty popular and I think people are more open to appreciating the diversity they bring to the market, like Deadly Premonition or Catherine. In saying that, I’ll happily play anything and enjoy it some way or another; I simply love games.
Rob: What is your culinary background? Were there any chefs that inspired you?
Daniella: I have absolutely no culinary background! I was just about able to fend for myself when I left home; that’s what happens when you have an Italian mother. I do like to eat though and I probably watch an appalling amount of cookery shows. Actually, I probably just spend an appalling amount of time in front of a screen. I enjoy Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver and Heston Blumenthal, they’re always entertaining.
Gourmet Gaming is great because it lets me try out new things and learn about tastes and techniques I would never have experienced otherwise.
Rob: I know, personally, that when I see food in a video game, I always think it looks delicious. For example, the poultry in Streets of Rage. How did you ever come up with the concept of combining your love of gaming with your culinary skills?
Daniella: I’m always asked this question, and while the Sinner’s Sandwich from Deadly Premonition planted the seed, I sometimes feel like Gourmet Gaming just appeared in my head. I woke up one day and had this idea and thought “I have to do this”. I shared it with my boyfriend who thought I’d gone insane, but he encouraged me to go for it.
I almost didn’t post the first recipe, I thought no one would be interested and it would be a waste of time. But it’s been amazing and I couldn’t be happier with the response it’s received.
I’ve always been massively into games, I didn’t think I was much of a cook though! I thought it would be a fun side project that meant I could play more games and eat more food, I was sold on that idea alone.
Rob: One of my favorite recipes in your collection (of the ones I’ve attempted to emulate) would have to be the Wasteland Omelet. I’ve always wondered how the end of the world tasted, and now I know. If you could only choose one of your recipes, which would it be and why? I know it’s gotta’ be tough.
Daniella: It will always be the Pizza Sundae from Costume Quest. I just think it looks incredible and it tasted amazing; it was a feast in many ways! It is hard though, there’s so many I love for different reasons; appearance, taste and sentimentality.
Another favourite would be Chili Dog A La Sonic, because I grew up with the games and the TV show, and I always wanted to eat a Chili Dog. I wasn’t disappointed, I can see why Sonic likes them so much now, it was a childhood dream realised.
Rob: Looking back at all of the dishes you’ve made, is there one you would never want to make again (be it due to difficulty or taste)?
Daniella: Not at all! Some recipes are obviously harder than others but cooking is such a rewarding process. It might take you all day but you’ll have a meal for your efforts; something you’ve made with your own hands, that will taste amazing. Everything on the site is a pleasure to make and eat, otherwise it wouldn’t be there.
Rob: Related to the previous question, is there a recipe that didn’t quite turn out how you originally envisioned?
Daniella: Of course! I sometimes make up to three dishes in a week because the recipe I was planning on didn’t work out at all. The worst was Scrab Cakes from Abe’s Oddysee. It was a real shame because I love that game and I wanted to do it some serious justice, but it wasn’t to be.
Nothing is ever impossible though, any that have failed, and there’s been a lot, I will try again in the future. A failure just means I’m even more determined to make it work.
Rob: How many times do you create a dish before you’re happy with the results?
Daniella: It really depends on the recipe. The goal is always to make it look as close to the source as possible and I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Fans are also really particular, as they have every right to be, so I always worry if it’s something I’ve never played.
It’s so great when it works out perfectly the first time, but desserts and cakes in particular cause the most stress. The reigning champion of attempts had been the Minecraft Cake, but this week the Strawberry Tart from Catherine took over with four or five attempts over about a month before I was happy with the final result. That tart had many forms, it was even a cake at one point. I always know when something is right though, when it’s ready to be shared.
Rob: Any plans for a cookbook?
Daniella: A cookbook would be amazing, but it’s obviously a very difficult thing for one person to put together! Anyone want to help out?
I quite like that it’s all available on the site though; that way it’s there for everyone to access and enjoy. The freedom to share my idea with anyone who’s interested is one of the great liberties of the internet.
Rob: Can I make a request? Mississippi Quantum Pie from Fallout 3!
Daniella: Yeah, you totally can! I’ve wanted to make that for a while, but the thought of trying to make something edible from flour, vodka and Nuka-Cola seemed like such a huge challenge! Consider it accepted though, I’m sure it will show up very soon.
There you have it! This is the kind of stuff we at the MCP are hoping to bring you from time to time, a look into other gamers’ incredible passions and what they do with them. It’s fun to play games, but its even better to elevate one’s passion to a new level. Keep your eyes peeled here at CHUD for more MCP coverage of gamers and their creative passions!