From Winnie the Pooh to Lilo and Stitch, this mom is a pro at bringing Disney characters to life through her incredible bento food art.
Stay-at-home mom, Li Ming Lee from Singapore, started creating character bentos in 2008 for her oldest son Ivan Tey.
For those who don’t know, a character bento, or “charaben” for short, is an elaborately designed meal in Japanese cuisine that usually consists of rice, fish or meat, and vegetables.
When Ivan first started elementary school, he had a hard time adjusting to being away from his mom and would often cry when he was dropped off at school. As a way to comfort him during his hours at school, Lee decided to make charabens, complete with a lunch note, to give him something to look forward to at lunchtime.
When her second son Lucas Tey got a little older, he started requesting his own charabens as well. So year after year, Lee continued making beautiful bento meals for her kids.
“When I started, it was my boys’ enthusiasm that kept me making the charabens,” Lee tells Babble. “Over time, I fell in love with making them, and it has become a hobby for me to indulge in when I have pockets of free time.”
Around the time Lee started making charabens for Lucas, she began photographing her creations. She eventually compiled all of her food art photos and uploaded them to her blog, Bento Monsters, and created an Instagram account much to the liking of others.
Since its creation, Lee’s Instagram account has developed a following of over 247K people!
According to Lee, a typical charaben only takes about a half an hour to make (not including the time it takes to cook the food).
Assembling around three charabens a week, Lee tends to stick to her favorite characters, Winnie the Pooh and Baymax from Big Hero 6, which also happen to be the easiest for her to make.
And while all of Lee’s meticulously crafted charabens are picture perfect, Lee admits it took some time to get the hang of things. She originally taught herself how to make the charaben from Japanese websites and cookbooks. And the most impressive part? Lee doesn’t even speak Japanese!
Lee explains to Babble that just by studying the pictures in the cooking instructions, she was able to develop her own designs.
Now, almost nine years after creating her first bento, Lee continues to indulge in her two passions: making charabens and being a mom.
When asked what her favorite part of being a mom is, Lee simply replied, “Every little moment, all the smiles, giggles, and tears.”
There’s nothing like a cute Disney character to put a smile on your kid’s face, and the fact that they’re staring up at you from your lunch makes it even better.
I think it’s safe to say we’re obsessed with the edible Disney magic found in Lee’s lunches!