Some of the best dad tricks involve making a mundane everyday object into something awesome. Nathan Shields did just that – he made pancakes into awesome. We couldn’t resist hunting the math-teacher-turned-pancake-artist down and asking him a couple of questions about math, pancakes, and of course, fatherhood.
Nathan Shields lives with his wife and two kids in Saipan, an island that amounts to a speck on the map, northeast of Guam…or if that doesn’t help you, southwest of Japan and relatively north-ish of Australia. The on-hiatus math teacher began making themed pancakes for his children and posting pictures of them on a website, Saipancakes. Soon, Shields was getting attention from major news outlets, nerd culture websites, and schmucks like us.
We talk to Nathan after the jump.
This isn’t the first time we’ve talked to a pancake artist. Last October, we talked to Jim Belosic, who had released his cookbook, OMG Pancakes, about the stackable breakfast treat. And though Belosic and Nathan both use pancakes as an artistic medium, you’ll see many differences in their styles. Most notably – Jim’s forte is building three-dimensional, multi-colored objects while Shields creates an incredible level of detail in just one color and two dimensions.
But we know what you’re thinking – you saw Star Wars pancakes and thought “holy sith, that’s impressive!” Well, you haven’t seen the half of it. Here’s another notable set, his undersea marine invertebrates:
When’s the last time you squirted anything out with that much detail?
Q&A with Nathan Shields
8BD: Before endeavoring into the world of pancakes, you were a math teacher. What’s your best math joke?
NS: (I still am a math teacher – just on leave for a bit) If I find a math joke funny, my students don’t, so I try not to tell jokes if I can avoid it. Self-deprecation usually gets them to laugh.
8BD: Fair enough. But believe it or not, you’re not the first guy we’ve talked to who has livened up pancakes for his kids. What is it about pancakes that makes them fun to “hack” like this? Do you also make 3D sculptures from mashed potatoes?
NS: I don’t love pancakes particularly – they’re just easy to play with. How else are you going to make a dinosaur for breakfast? I haven’t done any 3D sculptures yet, but you’ve given me the idea for a Moebius strip pancake now…
8BD: Tell us about your kids. How old are they? Do they enjoy playing with the pancakes more than eating them?
NS: I have a 4-year old son and a 19-month old daughter. They do love playing with food, but the pancakes tend to disappear quickly.
8BD: What tools do you use to do your pancake art? Any other tips for recreating our own?
NS: I just use off-the-shelf mix and soymilk. I don’t measure (I’d just have to adjust again anyway) – just combine until you can suck it into your baster. I found a little nozzle to make a finer line, but it’s slowly getting melted.
8BD: If you could give one piece of advice to every father, what would it be?
NS: To be like your kids.
Thanks to Nathan for taking the time to answer our mostly-not-math-related questions! If you want to check out more of Nathan’s pancake creations (including a larger version of his tribute to Maurice Sendak), check the link below!
(also, we totally forgive Nathan for misspelling “Hutt.” But he’s on warning.)