Scientists make cheese from intimate parts of British celebrities

Are they crackers?

At the London biolab Open Cell, scientists swabbed either the armpits, ears, noses, toes or belly buttons of five celebrities, then cultivated their bacteria to make into personal body cheese.

The celebrities who volunteered their intimates is “Our House” Madness band singer Suggs. He chose to be a chunk of cheddar; Alex James, bassist for Blur, preferred to be a slice of Cheshire; celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal selected to be a comté.

Rapper Professor Green, who actually hates cheese, had his belly-button bacteria made into mozzarella. Great British Bakeoff runner-up and food writer Ruby Tandoh had her nose swabbed to make into a cake of Stilton.

“It’s not gross, it’s art,” she sniffed.  

Indeed, it’s an art project, called Selfmade, part of the “FOOD: Bigger than the Plate” currently on exhibit at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.  Biodesigner Helene Steiner, chef John Quilter, and scientist Dr. Thomas Meany collaborated on creating the human cheeseboard.

Celebrity Cheese Credit: Dezeen/Selfmade

The goal is to show there’s a big difference in types of bacteria. There’s the bad, like E.coli and Salmonella, but most importantly there’s beneficial bacteria that keep our bodies healthy.

“Many of the microbes involved in cheesemaking bear a close relationship to those found on human skin,” blogged Catherine Flood, a museum curator.

Therefore, Flood says, it’s no coincidence that there are similarities between smelly cheese and body odors.

“Desirable flavor notes in our favorite cheese can repel us when they are associated with the human body,” Flood added.

But are these human cheeses edible? No one has yet volunteered to find out.

Man Making Cheese
Say Cheese? Credit: Mishko Papic/Victoria and Albert Museum