AUSTRALIA’S own self-styled Willy Wonka has paid tribute to actor Gene Wilder, who died overnight aged 83.
Famed pastry chef Adriano Zumbo has long considered the eccentric storybook icon, who Wilder brought to life in the hit 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, to be his idol.
He even has a tattoo of Wilder in character on his arm, which he got nine years ago as his career began to take off.
“You created what dreams are made of — pure imagination,” Zumbo wrote in a tribute posted to Instagram today.
Known for his own weird, wonderful and reality defying creations, Zumbo said the Wonka story inspired him as a child and made him believe that anything was possible.
“It keeps imagination alive in people who work in creative fields,” he said.
“You can always imagine the unexpected and strive for it. You may never get there, but it’s always a good thing to have.
“For a movie that came out so long ago, it’s amazing it still inspires people to dream.”
The Zumbo’s Just Desserts host revealed last week that he shares many similarities to the character, including an inherent shyness.
In bizarre timing, tonight’s episode of the Channel Seven baking competition sees him set a challenge inspired by Wonka.
It’s a floating edible top hat, crafted in tribute to the one Wilder wore in the film. Two contestants must remake the magical dish.
If he has his way, Zumbo said he’ll continue working hard to bring inventive confectionary dreams to life.
“I know it’s just imaginary, but there are (things from the movie) that have never been created in real life. People still don’t have chewing gum that tastes like three meals in one, or soda that makes you float.”