1. Your site is very impressive because of your wide range of food you’ve styled. What is your favorite to style on a photo shoot?
Thanks, happy you like it. I love challenges, I love collaborating with good photographers and my favorite kind of assignments are art projects involving food.
2. What did you get into first, styling in still photography or T.V.?
I started with working on still photography, the transition to TV is a long one. TV require a totally different set of skills beyond just being a good food stylist. These days I work on both and love the mix.
3. You have a culinary background; where did you graduate from? Any degrees in styling?
I studied in Switzerland and Israel, I worked as a chef in both places and had the opportunity to open several successful restaurants. I don’t believe you could graduate with a food styling degree, and if you could it wouldn’t be more than a good place to start.
4. How did you incorporate your fine art sculptures into your food sculptures? What came first?
When I got to NY in 1990 I knew I wanted to be a food stylist, I had no clue where to start so I called a photographer friend of mine and asked him to photograph some art pieces I made of food. I fall in love with creating art work using food out of the plate. When I had three pieces I called Food Arts Magazine and arrange a meeting with the editor, I walked into the office and met the late Michael Batterbery the founder of food Arts Magazine. He fell in love with my work and commissioned me to work on several front covers and double spreads. Michael also introduce me to local photographer Peter Pioppo that gave me the opportunity to work of paid jobs. In my day to day work I try to bring the artistic vision and sense to every image, I believe that there are three important element to a great image. Composition, uniqueness and in our case appetite appeal. Each client pays us to work with his ingredients and ask us to creat a unique one of a kind piece of art (even when its only a burger). This is how approach my work on a daily base.
5. Ice cream is one of the harder foods to style because of it’s short life span under lights, what did you do to come up with such a unique recipe to help it last longer?
Ice cream was the first food I worked on, Peter (photographer) specialized in shooting ice cream and I had the opportunity to observe. I came up with new techniques that allow me to hold ice cream for a longer period of time. One of the biggest secrets of a successful food stylist is having the ability to improvise, invent and be open to new ideas. Every day we are challenged with new problems, client concerns, time restriction or equipment malfunctions. The ability to solve problems is crucial.
6. Do you see yourself getting more work through photographers or art directors?
There are several stages in a food stylist career, in each stage calls might come from different sources. Initially most calls come from the photographer who likes working with you, as you establish yourself calls will start coming from the agency as they start looking for you to maintain the look or create a new for their campaigns not necessary using the same photographer you started working with. As you establish and prove yourself to the client as the person who best understand their food you will be getting calls directly from clients as they would try to ensure they have you on set for their next project even before the agency knows of shooting days. I love having the mix of the three.
7. Any current personal projects you are working on?
Couple, I’m starting to put together a concept for a new book, I’m working very hard on bringing my Crispycones product to market. www.crispycones.com
8. Do you primarily work in New York or do you travel a lot for shoots?
Most of my work these days is out of NY, I travel half my time for TV shoots in LA, Dallas as well as other places and I do work a lot in Philadelphia your home town. I love to travel.
9. Would you ever consider opening a restaurant?
Good question. I still LOVE cooking and I dream of opening a small place with 12-20 seats that I could cook my food and have guest stay over night as a part of the experience of hosting and making guest feel at home.
10. Favorite flavor of ice cream?
Haagen Dazs Vanilla ice cream and Ciao Bella Blackberry Cabernet sorbet