Musings from a Seattle personal chef
Archive for the 'Food Styling' Category
I had it all planned: grill up some veggies, make a pot of red quinoa, place on a plate and take a beautiful picture. But reality has a funny way of intruding. We just couldn’t resist sneaking a bite (or five) as each vegetable came off the grill (fortunately we still had some left by the time the quinoa was ready, but by then the Kodak moment had passed).
Who-cares-if-they’re-piping-hot-I-want-them-NOW Grilled Veggies
Minced fresh oregano
Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Red pepper flakes
Whisk the marinade ingredients together. Trim the woody ends off the asparagus, remove the gills from the portobellos, sliced the zucchini lengthwise into 1/4″ slices and stem, de-seed and halve the bell peppers. Marinate the veggies for at least 20 minutes (and up to an hour). Preheat your grill to high. For easier turning, thread the asparagus onto a wire or bamboo skewer. Grill veggies until slightly charred (I remove the skins from the bell peppers before serving).
If you have any left, serve the veggies on top of quinoa or grain of choice.
Ever wonder why your culinary creation doesn’t come out like the photo in the food magazine? Well, could be because you didn’t use Kitchen Bouquet, Vaseline, Elmer’s Glue or an assortment of skewers, toothpicks, cotton balls and other items to prop up the food.
Welcome to the world of professional food styling.
Of course, not every food photo you see is highly manipulated. With the proliferation of food blogs, much of what you see is real, unadulterated food. I would guess even food magazines and cookbooks rely mostly on “real” food, although I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the food is meticulously primped to show it in its most food porn-ready pose.
But think about the ads you see in print and on television. In order to get the food to behave for long periods of time under hot studio lights — and maintain its perceived yumminess — there’s no way around a bit (or a lot) of manipulation. Just check out this site for a look at ads vs. reality in the fast food business. However, due to “truth in advertising” laws, if you’re selling a particular food item, then the ads HAVE to feature the real deal. For example, the current HÃ¤agen-Dazs ads (which are spectacular), MUST feature real ice cream. However, it’s likely those perfect scoops took quarts upon quarts of ice cream and hours upon hours to produce.
So why all this interest in food styling? A couple of years ago I thought I should have a back-up plan for when my body decides it can no longer schlep equipment from client kitchen to client kitchen. So I started to look into the world of food styling (although now I know more about it, I realize if I ever were to pursue the career, my schlepping days would not only NOT be over, they’d be intensified). So when I heard about the Food Styling 101 workshop from Food Fanatics, I jumped at the chance. Besides, it was an opportunity to meet Denise Vivaldo, whose book, “How to Start a Home-based Catering Business,” is a dog-eared, oft-used reference in my culinary library. (And if you’re considering a career as a personal chef, I highly recommend her subsequent book, “How to Start a Home-Based Personal Chef Business” featuring interviews with several personal chefs, including yours truly).
Okay, so perhaps my darling doesn’t know much about training, but at least he knows his photography! Compare his picture of the pineapple-mango tartlett (top photo) to my meager attempt (bottom photo):
Granted, this was only the third picture I’ve taken with my new Panasonic LUMIX camera, but it’s obvious I need a bit more practice.