The Food Stylist Experience by T.L. Epperson

Lucky girl am I to have had the opportunity to take Living Light's Food Styling for Photography class with Cristina Archila.  The class is unique because its primary focus is on gourmet raw cuisine.  It is the first Living Light class I have taken since graduating the Gourmet Culinary program in 2010.    And I feel it is the most awesomely creative class to have experienced here at Living Light.  Well, maybe it’s a close second to the recipe development classes of Ethnic and RawFusion Spa Cuisine.     Either way you learn a lot of the tricks and techniques of the Food styling trade.  The class covers the equipment a food stylist uses, plating skills, how to use sauces as paint, using props to describe a recipe, how to the direct the eye’s flow to the image in the photograph and so much more.  My favorite tip I learned involved a potato and toothpicks.   You have to take the class to get that one.

You look at food differently as a food stylist than as a chef but the process for me is very similar. You aren’t necessarily worried if the food will taste good, because believe me; you would not want to eat food styling food.   Think of denture cream holding a cherry tomato in place on a bowl of lettuce.  Not too appetizing, but very effective.

As a chef, I am a HUGE planner.  I scour through cooked recipes to find just the right one to create a raw version and I take numerous notes and write and rewrite a recipe before I gather my mise en place and begin testing (and re-testing) in the kitchen.  All before I have a completed dish.

I was able to use the skills I had a chef during the Food Styling for Photography hands-on portion of the class, we had the opportunity to wear the food stylist hat.  My process was similar to that of my chef‘s chapeau. 

Below was my development in styling a raw pasta dish.

1. Use a prep chart to design my dish.

2.  Gather the ingredients (zucchini pasta, red sauce, pesto,  top secret ingredients used to create a white sauce) and equipment. 

3.  Paint the pasta.

4.  Add the garnishes.

5.  Photograph the finished dish.

This rapid-fire, one-day course was informative, fun and definitively stretched my creative muscles to the max.

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