Mar 28 2010
Ever since we’ve become a Featured Publisher with Foodbuzz last year, we’ve had so many great opportunities to meet fellow food bloggers that share a passion for food like we do. On one occasion, we were invited to an LA dinner event at Beso in Hollywood where we met Nancy Goodman Iland, who was also part of the Foodbuzz community. Since that event, we’ve still kept in touch with her both online and off. I have mentioned Nancy before on our blog, but for this special post for Foodbuzz’s March 24, 24, 24 event, I proposed to have an event that is different than what we’ve done before.
Food bloggers are always trying to improve their food styling skills when they take their photos, and so I thought it would be fun to have a lesson in food styling with Nancy, who happens to work on dozens of TV shows in Hollywood where food styling comes into play, such as Murder She Wrote, Kitchen Confidential (yes, she’s worked with hottie Bradley Cooper!), the new Melrose Place, and many others. Nancy was gracious enough to help us make this event happen by coming over to our kitchen to help us plate some dishes – basically doing what she loves best! In addition to what we created, she also shared some photos of her more recent work on Melrose Place. And finally, we’ll wrap up this post with a Q&A Session with Nancy to get to know her better and learn some great tips for food styling!
Nancy was definitely a great coach in food styling; we’ve learned a lot from watching her work and the great tips she’s given us. Although she does more TV work than print work, we could always use any help and advice for our own improvements with our food photography.
Questions & Answers with Nancy Goodman Iland – Food Stylist to the Stars
1. What do you like most about your job?
What I like most about my job is being the variety of being creative, doing research (if needed) and also being an entrepreneur and running my business. I also get to work with everyone on the set from the writers/creators, directors for food ideas on how food would be made or presented, to lighting and camera to make the food look it’s best and to working with the actors to make them look like real chefs/cooks. I also have an amazing and creative crew that I enjoy brainstorming with to come up with new and unique ways to cook and present food. I also like the free-lance aspect that I am not working everyday, but when I do work they are very long days with great people and at different locations, food themes, etc. You never get bored with doing the same thing over and over!
2. What are the technical aspects of food styling that you follow?
Technical aspects of food styling… using color, texture, different heights, items to create movement for the eye are what I use for plates, platters and buffets. I also enjoy being a food tech and teaching the cast and crew how to look/act like they really know what they are doing in the kitchen.
3. What’s been your favorite TV show to work on and why?
Favorite TV show that I have worked on is ‘Murder She Wrote’ because there was always a party or restaurant scene in every episode and the crew was like a family – we spent more hours with them than our own families. I also loved working on ‘Kitchen Confidential’ (you can see it on Hulu.com) because each episode was shot in a week and in each episode, the writers put a special food in the episode to peak the foodies interest, usually up and coming food trends.
4. Describe a day at work as a food stylist to the stars.
The day before we are on the set, I shop for all of the food products and we prep as much of the food as we can so on set days we can get in and create! A typical day on the set is unload the car and get organized and then depending on the scene, we start prepping the food and setting up the set where the food will be seen. If it is a restaurant, we need it to look like a real restaurant: some people will be just sitting down, some with menus and ordering, some being delivered food, some mid-meal, some finishing meal and paying the bill… with lots of movement and back ground people crossing past the camera to make it look real. And if they are shooting in the kitchen, I will be placing all of the food for back ground to be working on from chopping vegetables to sautéing, cooking, putting things in the oven, plating food with background people crossing to put things in the oven, etc. It is usually a rush to set up and then depending on the shooting schedule, I may be sitting down for a while… I once waited 10 hours for my scene to be shot, ahhh! At the end of the day, it is cleaning up and throwing away any food that has been sitting on the set (unless it is fresh veggies or something salvageable, but most food has been out for too many hours).
5. What has been one of the most challenging food styling you have done?
One of the most challenging food stylings I have done was the show Kitchen Confidential, because it was 80 hour weeks for 12 weeks non-stop. The producers also wanted all of the back ground really eating so the challenge was to produce an abundance of food and keep it healthy for all of the hours of filming.
6. What advice would you give to food bloggers who want to capture better food photos?
My advice for food bloggers to capture better food photos is to make the food look delicious with use of color, texture, different heights, and the use of movement in the shot whether is is a sauce dripping, or sauce sweeping across the plate or a napkin flowing around the plate…. and the use of natural light!
7. What’s your favorite food or restaurant you would recommend?
That is a very hard question to answer because living in Los Angeles, we have every kind of food available to us and I enjoy it all… Right now some of my favorite spots are “The Patty Wagon” which is an amazing food truck that you can find on twitter. Also, my favorite restaurants are Tattoria Ameci and Bay City Deli in Santa Monica. When the holidays are here, I love the comfort foods that my mom and dad make (they used to own a B&B and both are amazing chefs)… brisket with potatoes and carrots, matzo ball soup and the works! Yum!!
8. Finally, any last thoughts?
To sum it up… I have my Dream Job!!! It is not for everyone, but it is for me!!! It combines my two passions of Food and Art and that is why I named my business FoodArt. You can check out my work at FoodArtLA.com.
With that, we end this post with a very special thank you to Nancy, who has contributed her time and guidance to make this event happen. We couldn’t have done it without you! And, of course, thank you to Foodbuzz for sponsoring us for March’s 24, 24, 24 event. We are so happy that we got chosen and we hope that we taught and inspired many of the food bloggers out there on the basics and fundamentals of food styling. Be creative and think outside of the box. Before you know it, you’ll be turning your food into art!