Preheat oven to 350 and sketch

Artist’s eye takes him to the kitchen

By Heather J. Carlson

GOODHUE — For artist Tim Trost, it all started with a tomato.

The veteran illustrator noticed a single ripe tomato dangling from a vine in his farm’s garden. Soon, with colored pencils, Trost was sketching the brilliantly colored fruit. That’s when it hit him: He could combine his love of illustrating with another love — food.


The Goodhue artist came up with the idea of combining his illustrations and design experience with customers’ family recipes. The final product is a piece of artwork that preserves a family recipe.

"The real satisfaction is knowing that you are providing something for people that is really meaningful to them, that is going to last a long time and can be passed down to their children," Trost said.

Kristin Alexander is among those drawn to Trost’s work. The co-owner of the County Seat Coffeehouse in Mantorville said she saw his work at a craft show and was intrigued. The coffee shop sells some of his prints and cards and invited the artist to do recipe art at the coffee shop’s grand opening.

"I liked the originality of it all, and I thought that his art is very crisp," she said.

Since his initial tomato drawing a year ago, Trost has branched out to an array of food items including a homemade pie, a cracked egg and chocolate melting in an old-fashioned double boiler. The artwork is marked by a precision and attention to detail — something the artist is passionate about.

"I wouldn’t be a good painter. I like to have the (colored) pencils sharp. I like to have the detail," he said. "It’s kind of a painstaking process."

Trost has a long history of gravitating toward art that requires precision. A nature lover, he has made it a personal quest to accurately illustrate some of Minnesota’s most endangered plants. In the case of food, Trost applies that same attention to detail. He said he usually takes several pictures of the item he is illustrating from several angles. He then uses those photos to study the object and try to bring it to life on paper. The cost for his recipe illustrations start at $40 for a matted 8-by-10-inch wall hanging — $60 for a framed version.

The recipe art business has had its share of challenges — mainly unfamiliar food. Repeated requests for illustrations to accompany lefse recipes left Trost scratching his head.


"I’m not a Scandinavian — of course you may not want to print that," he joked. "But I had to check out exactly what do they use to make that."

So he visited his neighbors and learned all about lefse-making. At a flea market, he found an antique ricer that he sketched to accompany lefse recipes. It has turned out to be one of his biggest-sellers.

There is another perk to Trost’s art business — all those yummy recipes. The father of four has been known to share a recipe or two with his wife, Joyce.

He added, "Every once in a while, we get a recipe and I’ll say, ‘Joyce, can we try this one?"

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Tim Trost

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