While food styling is far from a new practice, it certainly is a term that is new to the ears of others in the entertainment industry. Celebrities need a stylist to look good for their photo shoots, and by gosh, so does that beautiful pot de crème on the cover of your favorite food magazine.
Once donning the title, home economists, food stylists have been in business for years, and the craft itself has been the epicenter for litigation (see Campbell Soup Co. v. Wentz). Definitely an underrated, underexposed, and coveted career path.
There are 5 important things you should know about food stylists:
WE HAVE A MILD CASE OF OCD
From our styling kits (much akin to the surgical kind) to the way we want our kitchen studio space laid out, there must be order among the chaos. Being organized is the best way a stylist can manage multiple shoots without disturbing the ebb and flow of the day. Please put things back from whence they came; it drives us bananas. No pun intended.
BEING ON TIME IS LATE AND BEING EARLY IS ON TIME
Much like any editorial shoot, there isn’t a time when the inevitable creative change can’t occur. Being early for our workday is likened to being prepared for that worst case scenario. Ya know, when those rare Indonesian fruits that can “ONLY be sourced across town, on odd days of the month, but ONLY on Mondays and the editor MUST have them” turns into the very reason that you and your assistant arrive one hour early. My advice: just to be on time.
WE FIND THE BEAUTY IN ALL THINGS
Our job is not to focus on the perfect and gorgeous elements of food, but to meet our clients’ aesthetic desires–be it a messy, smudgy barbeque or the onion bulbs fresh from the soil. The ability to visualize the beauty in all things and to be able to make that translate in a photo is our job, and we do it with style and sometimes not so gracefully.
WE’RE SIMILAR TO SNOWFLAKES
No two food stylists are the same. We each have distinctive styles and the most talented have the ability to create a plethora of styles that “wow” potential clients. Some of us are anal retentive, some laid back but all of us have culinary training and most of us have the good old-fashioned restaurant experience. If you’re planning to pursue a career in food styling, assisting various stylists will teach you more than you could imagine.
WE GIVE GOOD CREDIT
You must know that in the early stages of my career, I didn’t receive credit for almost any of the beautiful food I had a hand in. Not because I didn’t deserve it, but there are dues that must be paid! You get to learn a lot of helpful techniques while being a food stylist’s assistant, and you get to recreate the recipes of some well-known chefs and not for nothing. It’s an amazing experience that will lead to magazine covers and leading stories that will have your name all over them. In the meantime, keep creating good credit for whomever you’re representing and you will certainly reap the benefits.
Now, let’s get cookin’,
Elle Simone is a culinary maverick. Always drawn to creative food culture, Elle has been dazzling the culinary world since 2006, quickly becoming a highly sought-after freelance food stylist and culinary producer. Elle has collaborated and contributed her unique styling abilities to Food Network, Food Network Magazine, The Cooking Channel, The Katie Couric Show, CBS Corporation, ABC’s The Chew and Bravo’s Chef Roble and Co.
Her specialties don’t stop with styling and production. As the creator of SheChef, Elle shares her passion for culinary arts by mentoring women within the industry and by sharing meals through The Cast Iron Supper Club. Through SheChef, Elle brings a holistic approach to culinary and media and its multitude of avenues, offering the following services: recipe testing, recipe development, cookbook editing/formatting, cooking lessons, and menu planning. With a focus on beautiful and tasty dishes, Elle transcends the traditional role of a chef, working to share her gift and tell a story through food.
You can find Chef Elle anywhere below:
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TV/Social Media Producer Debbie Mitchell is an Emmy nominated producer who is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA). She is currently a member of the James Beard Broadcast and New Media Awards Committee. If you are a brand interested in Social TV, blogger outreach campaigns, or a blogger or personality interested in television placement follow Debbie Mitchell@SocialTVDeb and/or email SocialTVDeb@gmail.com. If all else fails, her resourceful assistant, Sang, will find her.
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