Daily Life of a Food Stylist: Adam Pearson Interview

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Daily Life of a Food Stylist: Adam Pearson Interview

According to Adam Pearson who is a food stylist based in Los Angeles, an individual who know how to deal with problems quickly, has strong culinary technique and is a people person got the upper hand in becoming an outstanding food stylist. Person has been styling the foods showcased in cookbooks, catalogs and magazines for clients such as Crate and Barrel, Target and The Food Network for the last decade. In the food style industry, problem solving means combining design techniques and culinary so as to come up with food items and recipes that look as attractive as possible. Salaries in this field vary widely depending on the client and region of work since most stylist operate freelancers. We offer you a day in the life of Adam Pearson in order to learn and get a deeper understanding on becoming a food stylist.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Q: Who is a food stylist?

A person who prepares meals for the purpose of taking photos or filming is known as a food stylist. My work mostly entails photography for editorial work and cookbooks.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Q: In your normal work day, what do you do?

My job as a food stylist begins before the day of the photograph or film shooting. Clients normally send art directions and recipes about a week earlier. This gives me time to search for the needed ingredients and find out any prep work that can be conducted prior to shoot. In occasions where a great deal of baking is required we usually do it a day before.
We arrive early on the studio or location of the shoot on the day of the shoot. The sunset usually indicate the end of our day since most of the shoot is done with natural light. In order to have adequate time for the shoot, we start early. Preparation of the first foods to be shot begins once we are in the studio. The arrival of the client is usually an hour late than us. We discuss about the list for day’s shoot, examine the props and then get to work. The kind of job typically determines the total number of shots for the day for example for advertising takes 2-6 while cookbooks take 8-12.Each job differs from the other from expectations to requirements.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The photographer, prop stylist and art director work directly with me. We take time to get the food looking at its best while plating every recipe. The props are ensured to be perfect when setting up. Afterwards week the client’s approval. After we are through with the shoot, we usually divide the left over meal and pack up everything. Since there is no need for too much wastage. Normally I don’t see this images up to when they are printed.

Q: How did you end becoming a food stylist?

I read the information about food stylist while I was still in culinary school. Back then I was still trying to figure out what I admired doing. My feelings showed me that that was the job for me. I began sending emails to the local food stylist to find out if I could shadow them or assist. In about 10 to 15 emails that I sent, only one was replied. For about the next two years I teamed up with a reputable stylist. We moved throughout the country from job to job as I understood the industries ins and outs. The two years were enough for me to set up my own business. Becoming a food stylist does not require any certification or education, my advice is just go to culinary school. Then seek out help from well-established stylists. Some of them even organise workshops.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Q: In order to become a food stylist, what skills do you need?

Be able to solve problems, confidence, eye for composition and people skills are enough. Have the ability to prepare anything from scallops to soufflés and anything in between. What I always tell friends is that food stylist is 10% managing the expectations of the clients, 10% technique and problem solving is 80%.

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Q: As a food stylist, which is the craziest food you have ever prepared?

The first one that comes into my mind is one time I prepared eight pound suckling pig. Since the recipe was from Europe, getting such a young pig in America was very challenging. I was thought to be crazy by most of the butchers I reached out to. It was delicious even though it was sad.

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Q: Have acquired a team to work with or you are just solo?

I have worked with up to four assistants but mostly on the larger projects. The day is smoother in any kitchen if you have a solid team and lucky for have two assistants who are amazing. However the budget detects whether I take them out for the jobs.

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Q: What are the kinds of clients you work with?

Anyone in need of a food stylist and has funds for the service. I transact with fast food companies, authors and publishers, PR agencies, major brands, small restaurants, production companies, major retailers and advertising agencies.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Q: People who are out there and interested in becoming food stylists, what advice will you offer them?

If you a deep understanding of cooking or have a culinary degree, my recommendation is that you help out an established food stylist. Working in a restaurant is totally different from food styling. Apart from learning how to food style you also get the chance to understand other sections of the business such as building relationships with art buyers and photographers, bookkeeping and invoicing. Although it is not an easy industry to break into just don’t give up.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Are you ready to learn more on food styling? Institutions that provide training in culinary arts as the one Person has can provide you with a strong foundation in your career. Special coursework in food styling necessities is also offered by a number of culinary schools. A few business management courses can help you in terms of bookkeeping and invoicing if your plan is to go freelancing. Look out for more opportunities to help you understand more about this unique profession.

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