I am a writer, photographer, food/ prop stylist and film maker.
What the heck! I am in an M&S video looking like I belong in a Vermeer painting. They asked me to source 100kg of pinot noir grapes at a time when they had not even budded in the northern hemisphere or they went out of season in the southern. I called everywhere but in the end when I had to say, no can do, I found 100kg of some other wine grapes and we were able to shoot the commercial where I got to crush grapes with my hands and feet.
(photos with me in are by Jenny Brown, otherwise taken by me)
You can see it here, spot me if you can (haha!)
We shot in Limehouse, inside the beautiful decrepit interiors and home of the famous pub called The George Tavern. The Art Director was amazing, she had so many stunning props to create another world in another time. All I did was looking after grapes and my hands in costume. Had such a fun day. It was the first time I had worked with M&S which lead me to Adventures In Food.
I have been so busy all throughout summer, working as a food stylist for film and stills. One of my favourite briefs were from Marks & Spencer (one of a food stylist’s dream client) to work with Hemsley & Hemsley, Eat Like a Girl & Deliciously Ella for their campaign Adventures In Food.
We shoot in three different locations, one being a beautiful modern loft in Clapton, a worn down studio haven that we turned into Mexico in Hackney and a wrecked coast guard shed along The Thames.
Wow, it was a full on big crew like you get in for the movies with full lights, cameras, make up artists, production assistants, directors and us, the food stylists.
I work with my right hand assistant Jenny who is there for every need, thinks streets ahead of everyone else and works so hard with me to get everything perfect for every shot.
It was fun to create some of the recipes and test them out before the shoot too.
But the most fun was being on set with a team who became a little bit like family. We all ate together, joked around and helped each other out whenever we could which was so lovely. I do miss them when we are not shooting.
Food styling for film is a lot different from food styling for photography. In film work, there are different things to consider because its not a still life. For instance, preparing for every need that the recipe requires down to a tiny tee; continuity for retakes; styling actions and doing them over and over until its right or you’ve ran out of ingredients.
I loved working with Hemsley & Hemsley, they were such down to earth hard working but fun and charismatic women who are beautiful! And I am so pleased to be continuing with them on their whirlwind world domination.
Here is the video for Hemsley & Hemsley
Hope you enjoy my video on how to make summer rolls! x
Photography by Jenny Brown
I have been really truly busy this summer. One minute I’m covered, splashed in the face, white, painting the ceiling of my new kitchen; the next I am desperately trying to source 100kg of pinot noir grapes 4 months out of season (for a commercial); I got dressed up as though I was in a Vermeer painting (for a commercial); styling at least 50 dishes in one day for a Christmas ad; holding a yard sale on my street and shifting a piano – “girl-where-you-get-your-strength-from?” said a onlooker… Well I have been wanting to truly pass out these few months on the beach but in the midst of it, while in pre-production, I rode a lovely 4 hour trip to Oxford to Alex James’s farm with Jenny my assistant and best bud Aggie to make the starter for the supper club at The Big Feastival and there, a fluke of luck, I met with Jamie Oliver.
After demo-ing a few summer rolls to the lovely chefs at Jamie’s Fifteen, who then took charge and made 60 rolls for the guests at the Feastival Supper Club – all in aid of The Jamie Oliver Foundation, I was bursting for a drink and dived towards the fridge where Jamie’s back was facing me. I had no idea he was there but he kindly introduced himself, thinking, who is this person raiding my drinks? I had to trigger his memory a little but he remembered filming with me years
I am a lucky girl in all sorts of ways. I’ve been supplied with fresh organic fruit and vegetables from Wholegood throughout the summer and its given me so many opportunities to test out new recipes and play around with the best ingredients around. They have supplied plenty of beautiful ingredients for my supper club and cooking classes as well! The fruit and vegetables from here are gorgeous and the flavours are explosive. Carrots taste like carrots, you get the drift!
Wholegood are an organic fruit and vegetable wholesaler delivering to some of the UK’s finest retailers and caterers – but they also supply via Ocado and you can order a seasonal veggie box to your doorstep and let your creative senses lead the way.
I will be writing recipes for their boxes very soon too.
My favourite food to eat out is Japanese. I love sushi. I love Japanese bento boxes, dumplings, teriyaki dishes… I can easily eat Japanese food every day so I’ve made a promise to myself to cook more Japanese at home and experiment with the Japanese/ Vietnamese fusion. But firstly, try to conquer some of the favourites and basics.
It so happens that I have recently been working as a food stylist on a commercial shoot with a few Japanese recipes and therefore got to master the tempura batter. I love ordering tempura in restaurants and didn’t realise how easy it is to do at home.
Thanks to Wholegood for supplying the vegetables
Here is a basic recipe for vegetable tempura
For the batter:
2 or 3 litres oil for deep frying (rapeseed/sunflower/vegetable)
100g plain flour
1 tbls cornflour
chilled sparkling water
pinch of salt (could be flavoured with shiso/ or other dried herbs)
a selection of vegetables, sliced 5mm
i.e.tenderstem broccoli, courgette, aubergine, carrot, pak choi, elderflower etc
soy sauce, a dash of mirin, chilli oil
Wash and chop the vegetables into bite size pieces. Dry with kitchen paper.
In a deep pan heat the oil to 190C.
In a wide bowl stir together the flour, cornflour and salt. Add the sparkling water and stir until smooth, you are looking for about the same consistancy as pancake batter.
Add 3-5 ice cubes to keep the mixture cold. (the cold batter mixture and the hot oil makes it crispy)
Individually dip, and well coat a piece of vegetable and gently lower into the hot oil using long wooden chopsticks.
Repeat this process being sure not to overcrowd the pan, 5-6 at a time is probably the maximum.
When slightly golden remove from the oil and place on a tray lined with kitchen paper to drain off the excess oil.
To make the dipping sauce, peel and finely grate about 0.5cm of the daikon radish into a small bowl and mix a little miring and chilli oil with soy sauce.
TIP: Make a little batter at a time because it needs to be freshly made and cold or your tempura will be soggy.
I was recently invited to eat at one of my favourite Japanese restaurants, Matsuri in St James’s. They do sushi, all the favourites and Teppan-yaki, where the chef cooks on an iron grill in front of you. We had this amazing beef – Galician Beef T-Bone Steak – From a Japanese breed of cattle, with such great marbling, like Waygu – it was amazingly delicious! As was the black cod, sushi & tempura! My favourite thing, which is their egg fried rice is a must have!
It is definitely somewhere I love going as a treat with a loved one or a best friend. Highly recommended!
Matsuri means “festival”, it is a joint partnership between Central Japan Railway Company, the major Japanese high speed train operating company, and Kikkoman, the world’s most famous soy sauce company.
Matsuri, 15 Bury Street, London SW1Y 6AL
With thanks to FML Public Relations