Letter: Dear Aspiring Food Stylist

Cutlery From Cookbook Savour
Food Styling Props: Cutlery From Cookbook Savour

If you can’t stand the heat, stay out the kitchen.
Better the devil you know.  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

My Granny loved these old sayings.

The advertising industry is renown for being cut throat, ( it’s even listed as one of the 10 most stressful careers, along with air traffic controllers and emergency service workers) with a high burnout rate.
And make no mistake, the magazine world is not far behind ( remember The Devil Wears Prada)
The ripple effect of such a dog eat dog environment is that in the end everyone losses. Clients change agencies, people get retrenched, lives get messed with, managers and agents manipulate or lie, editors change their minds on a whim, and food stylists are more disposable than paper towel in a fast food kitchen.
Leaving everyone a little more insecure, a little more protective, and the whole industry a lot less honorable.

Honesty, integrity, loyalty. Values my Granny ingrained in us as much as her sayings, seem as lost as some of the friendships I’ve seen discarded like kitchen scraps on the food styling compost heap.

So if getting out is not an option, how does one navigate the hot kitchen?
I’m tempted to say invest in chain mail, don’t leave your sharp knives lying around and watch your back. Which cynically true, is negative and unhelpful. Rather listen to Granny, and if Granny isn’t around then Tim Gunn. ( don’t you just love Tim ?)

“I am a stickler for good manners, and I believe that treating other people well is a lost art. In the workplace, at the dinner table, and walking down the street–we are confronted with choices on how to treat people nearly every waking moment. Over time these choices define who we are and whether we have a lot of friends and allies or none.”
― Tim Gunn, Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work

Making it (food styling) Work is simple: be nice, don’t lie, don’t poach, and don’t copy.
Love, and I mean really love what you do.
Passion and Purpose are rare and very very valuable; they can’t be replicated, imitated or replaced, and they’ll keep you in the kitchen when the heat is on.

And forewarned is forearmed.
Happy Styling,

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