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Upper Crust Art: Elvis, the Toast of the Town
Upper Crust Art: Elvis, the Toast of the TownAug 13, 8:17 am ET

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - A New Zealand supermarket owner has spent two months fashioning his own unique toast to mark the 25th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death.

Maurice Bennett has constructed a portrait measuring 62 square feet in area of the King of Rock 'n' Roll crafted out of more than 4,000 small slices of toast.

Bennett, whose previous toast portraits include Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and New Zealand rugby star Jonah Lomu, says Elvis has a special place in his heart.

"I'm totally into Elvis. I just fell in love with the man...and there's a family story where my mother even says 'You were lucky, Maurice, you weren't christened Elvis'."

Using a commercial oven capable of cooking up to 90 full-sized slices of toast at a time, Bennett grilled the bread to six different shades ranging from burned for Elvis' hair to lightly warmed for his skin.

The idea for toast portraits first occurred to Bennett about four years ago when he was drinking with a group of friends.

"(I) saw a picture in a magazine, just a blocked out picture of a criminal and I suddenly thought 'Hey, that would look great in toast," he said, adding that he now had his own Internet Web Site: www.mauricebennett.co.nz.

The incendiary theme runs through some of Bennett's early works -- he exhibited in 1998 a collection of burned objects entitled "Burning Desire." He has exhibited in Tokyo as well several festivals in his home town Wellington.

Elvis died of a drug-induced heart attack on August 16, 1977, at the age of 42 and various posthumous tributes are being planned this week near his home at Graceland in Memphis, as well as around the world and on the Internet.

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