My ongoing Instagram "Resist" series needed a little pep in its step, and I thought it would be helpful to add a little (stop) motion to help reinvigorate it.
I was asked by Stella Artois to create the food for a series of advertisements in which groups of friends were enjoying meals together. The shoot consisted of both still photos and video sequences, which was a recipe for long hours and multiple takes. The client was looking for food that felt elevated and elegant, and the talent had to interact with it in a way that felt natural. As a food stylist it is always challenging to create an environment that feels like the best version of real life, especially when the camera is constantly moving and the actors are (appearing to be) eating it... sometimes for 4 or 5 hours at a time! I'm quite pleased with how these images came out!
Ok, this one is a bit of a stretch because it's true there's no gingerbread here. I was commissioned by Hershey's to design and build this mansion entirely out of KitKats for a Facebook Live event. This is by far the largest "gingerbread" house I've constructed. It was so large, in fact, that I had to build it in four sections that could be pulled apart and reassembled on site just so it would fit through the doors! Although it was cold outside, keeping the chocolate from melting in my overheated Brooklyn apartment was a challenge. This project took me five very long days and used hundreds of KitKat bars, and it goes to show that the line between being a food stylist and an architect is not as bold as you might think.
Another day, another gingerbread house! Lord Abbett, an investment firm located just outside New York City, was looking for a food stylist to create a gingerbread replica of their office building to both be featured in their holiday greeting video and live in the lobby of the building for the holiday season. There were two major challenges for this project. First, the building has a huge amount of glass on the facade, which required some structural engineering. I also had to figure out a way to bake all the pieces in my tiny Brooklyn oven and piece it together like a puzzle.
If someone had told me when I was a kid that one day I would get to make gingerbread houses for a living, I never would have believed I'd be so lucky. In my years as a food stylist I've made more gingerbread houses than I can count in every shape and size. This one, a replica of Downton Abbey (we called it "Gingerbread Abbey"), was one of the first large-scale houses I worked on. It was designed for Martha Stewart in conjunction with PBS, and it turned out great!
When people find out I'm a food stylist, the first question they always ask me is about how I fake it. They want to know all about the secret tricks I use to make everything "just so", and I think they're a little disappointed when they find out that there really aren't any. Sure, I carry fake rubber ice in my kit (not only does it float; it bounces!), but aside from that the food I prepare for photo and video shoots is not very different from the food I make at home, and at the end of the day pretty much all of it gets eaten.
When it comes to making videos, stop-motion animation has long been my favorite of project to work on. I grew up in a Monty Python family, and I started making my own short films inspired by Terry Gilliam's work as soon as I had access to a video camera. With so much focus on stop motion animation in the online video world these days, it's been greatly satisfying to be able to make this hobby of mine a part of my career as a food stylist. Here's one of my favorite projects so far, a lush, detailed advertorial video for FeedFeed + Figgy Pops.
Last summer I had the great pleasure of spending some of New York City's hottest weeks in the cool (ok, downright cold) walls of Michigan's Hudsonville Ice Cream factory in the suburbs of Grand Rapids. Photographer Hadley Henry and I teamed up with local branding agency Rocket Science to shoot the images that would completely redesign the brand's look and feel by elevating it's packaging to compete with artisanal grocery store brands. The whole experience was a food stylist's dream come true — a wonderful, trusting team which afforded us the freedom to make creative decisions as needed, not to mention the unlimited ice cream and dry ice!
Before you tune into what I'm told is a football game later today, take a minute to write or call your representatives and let them know what irks you. And then whip up these wings.
Blue Cheese Dip
1/4 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons mayonaise
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
chives, for serving
Combine in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Garnish with chopped chives.
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup hot sauce, such as Franks
4 pounds chicken wings
Blue cheese, for serving
In a small bowl, whisk together butter and hot sauce. Pour half over chicken wings and toss to cover. Place wings on sheet pan and broil 15-20 minutes until golden, rotating and flipping wings to cook evenly. Transfer to serving platter and drizzle with reserved sauce. Top with with blue cheese and serve with blue cheese dip.