Food Styling : What I learnt on this shoot ….

F&H Beetroot soupand it’s not that I am a frustrated graphic designer. ( I knew that already)
No, what I learnt or rather what I was reminded was this, “Work with people you trust.”


I hear you slap your palm against your forehead, “I know that,” sigh “everybody knows that” you’re thinking “what’s this ?Food Styling for Dummies, literally?”

Let me explain, I don’t mean the obvious trust; that your sharpest knife won’t be swiped on a shoot, or someone will eat your carefully prepared garnish ( it really happened! but thats a post for another time)  while you pop to the loo, or even that the priceless prop you borrowed from a friend won’t go awol while you chop and dice in the kitchen.

All these things are important, but in this case I  mean another kind of trust. I mean a kind of honesty more than trust in the usual sense of the word. Trust that they ( the peeps you are working with) will tell you when you’re doing a great job, and most importantly when you’re not, when you have slipped into a comfort zone and need to lift your game a bit. Trusting these folks means believing that they have your best interests at heart, that they know what you are capable of and are prepared to push you to achieve it.

Yes, it takes time to develop relationships, and I believe you earn the right to speak into peoples lives. But if you are a young stylist starting out this is my advise to you, search out these honest , trustworthy people and start building a relationship with them. These are the kind of folks you want to be around when the business is tiring, back breaking and sadly often back-biting too. Surround yourself with people who have your interests as much as their own at heart. Dont just work with people you like. work with people you trust.

I am blessed to have these people in my life. One of them saved me from making a big mistake on this particular shoot. I am thankful she was honest enough to tell me and grateful for her help in fixing it.

So, after that rather sombre post, what could be more trustworthy than a bowl of soup?  Here’s a pretty pic and recipe to go with it. ( super cool font and lettering by yours truly , the wannabe graphic designer) With special thanks to Vanessa Lewis for the photo AND the styling advise.

Beetroot & Caramelised Apple Soup with Horseradish Dumplings

 Serves 6

100 ml olive oil
1 leek, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
500g or approx 4 large beets, scrubbed and grated
1 carrot, grated
1 large potato, washed and grated
1 litre good quality chicken stock
250ml apple juice
50ml sour cream to serve ( optional)
1 apples, cored and sliced
30ml butter


1 cup self raising flour
1 tspn salt
1 tspn sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon white margarine, butter or suet
2 tablespoons creamed horseradish
½ cup full cream milk

 Preheat the oven to 200oC

  1. In a large saucepan heat the oil , sauté the leek and onion for 5- 8 minutes in the remaining olive oil. Add the beetroot, carrot and potato and saute for 10  minutes.
  2. Add the stock and the apple juice and simmer for a further 40 minutes
  3. While the soup is simmering make the dumplings by sifting the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl, and cut in the shortening until mixture is crumbly and resembles breadcrumbs, add the dill
  4. Mix the horseradish into the milk and stir into the flour mixture to make a soft dough, do not over work the mixture or it will become tough.
  5. drop teaspoonfuls into the soup 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time, and simmer with the lid on.
  6. To make the apple, sauté the slices in butter over a medium heat until caramelised and golden
  7. Serve the soup with dumplings and with apples to garnish.

Recipe appeared in Food & Home Magazine, May 2013.




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