INDUSTRY PROFILES: FOOD STYLIST ANGELA YEUNG
Why did you want to be a food stylist?
My father is a photographer and growing up I was always fascinated by the whole photography process. His studio was such a mysterious place - the darkroom I couldn’t enter, the film boxes I couldn’t open, and the food on set I couldn’t eat. Of course as a child the things you can’t do are the things that interest you most! There were always food stylists in his studio and I loved to watch them work and was intrigued by the things they did to make the food look so amazing and appetizing. I think that is when I initially became interested in food. At 19 I enrolled in culinary school while I was living in New Orleans and went on to work at Susan Spicer’s Bayona as a cook. After 3 years of cooking in New Orleans, I wanted to continue to finesse my culinary skills and was accepted at the prestigious Ecole Superieure De cuisine Ferrandi in Paris, one of the top professional cooking schools in France. I went on to stage at a Michelin star restaurant in Paris. I continued to work as a chef and pastry chef for the next few years before eventually coming full circle to pursue food styling. Food is my passion and food styling is the perfect way for me to combine creativity with technical skills to make food look it’s absolute best for the camera.
How would a person become a food stylist? What steps are involved?
The best advice is to first learn how to cook. Ask to assist other food stylists - you may have to work for free at first to get your foot in the door but if you work hard and do a good job they may take you on.
What do you enjoy most about being a food stylist?
I love that my job is never the same. Everyday is different whether it be a different studio, client, product, or location. It keeps my job interesting! I also love that I get to work with food everyday! I feel so fortunate to have such a great career where I get to do what I love.
What was your first job as a food stylist?
My first job as a food stylist was when I was 20 years old and still in culinary school - I did an editorial photo shoot with my dad for a magazine back in 1998. The story was about chicken and filled with great recipes. It was so much fun, I even cooked lunch for everyone during the shoot - afterwards my dad told me I should become a food stylist.
What was your favorite/most complicated/interesting job?
My favorite jobs are when I get to go out on location - I did a shoot in San Francisco and every day we shot in a different part of the Bay Area. One day we were in the studio in the city, then the rest of the week we went from Napa Valley to Palo Alto, then to a gorgeous park - it made for an exciting week. I also love doing editorial work - there’s not a lot of editorial work in Dallas so I really enjoy the opportunity.
What was the weirdest food you’ve had to work with?
The two jobs that stand out as being the weirdest was I once had to shop for and style raw pigs feet. It’s eerie how similar to human flesh pig skin can look like. I remember trying to push down a toenail that was sticking up too much. The other job probably has to be a packaging job I did for wet cat and dog food. It smelled pretty bad and I had to really dig through the food with tweezers to pick out all the nice bits of rice and meat.
Who is your favorite chef?
There are so many great chefs out there it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. I have favorite food cities - New Orleans, Paris, San Francisco, New York to name a few. When I travel instead of sightseeing I’m usually trying to find all the best and most interesting places to eat and drink. My two favorite meals of 2011 so far have been at chef Christian Etchebest’s la Cantine du Troquet in Paris - we had an amazingly simple but delicious Basque meal there. And I really enjoyed chef Bryce Gilmore’s Barley Swine restaurant in Austin - we had this incredible grilled carrot salad, it’s probably the best thing I’ve eaten all year.
Be sure to check out Angela’s website for more examples of her work.
—Corey Landers, Intern