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Style Your Food With Liberty Greene Fennell

Making food look fabulous with food stylist extraordinaire Liberty Greene Fennell

When entertaining, food that tastes good is only half the challenge – it needs to look good too. And I mean Instagram good. TOAST.Life chats to food stylist and recipe writer Liberty Greene Fennell to hear how she makes food look fabulous for a living, her thoughts on foodie trends for this year and she shares her top tips for creating a sensational looking spread at home.



Food for me is a bit like flowers. If I am ever lucky enough to receive a beautiful bunch, the minute I untie them and place them in a vase they look completely different. And by completely different I mean a mess. I was born without the floristry gene, and similarly I was born without the how-to-make-food-look-good gene too. Liberty Greene Fennell, however, definitely wasn’t.

“People always ask me if use bizarre ingredients to make dishes look better, like food colouring or paint! How the food tastes is obviously the most important thing about eating something, but how it looks plays such a big role in the whole experience. We all eat with our eyes!” she enthuses.

“I did once paint a cooked turkey with washing up liquid though! Why? I’ll keep that a secret…”

Liberty Fennell

Liberty Greene Fennell is by definition a food stylist and recipe writer; she spent 2016 in Germany, employed as the food writer and stylist for Marley Spoon - a global recipe box company based in Berlin. Now back in London she’s working freelance, creating delicious looking (and tasting) content for the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s popular foodie magazine, whilst also working on her own personal recipe projects. Other clients include Marmite, Marks and Spencer, Waitrose, Ketel One Vodka, Co-op, Nandos, United Airlines and more, and there is never a dull moment...

“I recently did a two day shoot for a Nokia television advert where I had to create all the food for a fake street food event on set - I ended up making about 6 gigantic ‘freak shakes’ with donuts, cakes, marshmallows and lollipops pilled up about 50cm high! That was definitely an experience!” she beams. 

A food stylist, in case you were wondering, is responsible for cooking and presenting the food on a photo or film shoot, and they style it to make it look as mouth-watering and eye-catching as possible – the same creative skills that are also required for hosting an unforgettable dinner party…

“Before the age of 23 I didn't even know being a food stylist was a career choice let alone what they actually did!” laughs Liberty, who studied photography at Brighton University.

“After I left university I moved to Paris where I spent the year basically dancing and eating French food. I then moved back to London in 2013, which was when I decided to start the 'Your House at Mine' supper club (more on that later…). On one event we held, wonderful chef and writer John Gregory Smith came to review us for his online magazine Eat Travel Live and he then introduced me to the incredible food stylist Rosie Reynolds  who first showed me the ropes. Both of them introduced me to some brilliant people and from there I worked hard to create relationships with magazines, chefs and other people in the food industry. So here I am! Thanks to my now great friend John Gregory Smith” she smiles.

Liberty Fennell Image Credit Ben Quinton

(Image Credit: Ben Quinton)

Liberty Fennell Credit Casey Lazonick Dishes

(Image Credit: Casey Lazomick, Vongole)

In addition to being a sought after food stylist, Liberty also writes recipes for magazines, which sounds like a lot of hard work….sort of.

“I spend the day testing recipes in my kitchen at home, taking photographs of my creations and then probably eating most of it! Then I write the recipes out step by step. This can be a difficult job – I have to imagine the person making it for the first time in their own kitchen, meaning it has to be written in a very visual and clear way”

Especially if I am the one attempting it at home...

“My recipes tend to be based around memories and experiences I’ve had - childhood food or countries and restaurants that I’ve been to” she continues.

“I am heavily influenced by Middle Eastern, Turkish and Italian home cooking. I like to take simple traditions and then add a small twist when creating recipes. With my styling it’s all about a roughness – an organised mess being paired with a simple and natural feel. Colour plays a huge part in food styling, pairing the right colours with certain foods brings the viewers eyes into part you want them to see the most!”

Liberty Fennell Credit Casey Lazonick

(Image Credit: Casey Lazonick)

Liberty Fennell Image Credit Emily Rose

(Image Credit: Emily Rose)

Liberty’s distinctive style is contemporary, fresh and completely delectable. A feast for both the eyes and mouth. We live in a time of ‘food porn’ where you can barely pick up a newspaper, magazine, walk past a billboard or open up social media without coming face to face with a completely gorgeous looking plate of food - it has almost become an art form in itself. 

“Instagram plays a big role in the food industry these days. I use my Instagram as my second portfolio and website. It has helped me create new relationships with people in the food industry which is great” Liberty explains.

“It’s great for inspiration too – I am endlessly scrolling through Instagram and Pintrest, as well as reading cookbooks and magazines. I actually get a lot of inspiration from my friends - I have a huge group of foodie friends and about 80% of our conversation revolves around food” 

Liberty Fennell Sam A Harris Drinks

(Image Credit: Sam A Harris)

And speaking of her foodie friends – it was with best friend Berty that Liberty started their successful supper club 'Your House At Mine', which is what catapulted her in the world of professional food styling. 

“We launched it in 2013 and we ran it for two years, hosting dinner parties in venues across London. It’s all about bringing foodies together! Meeting new people and eating great home-cooked food in a relaxed atmosphere for an affordable price” Liberty explains.

“The reason I got into cooking in the first place was because I enjoyed entertaining and cooking for my friends so much. Even on my birthday last weekend I ended up cooking for about 20 people just because I just enjoy it - some people think this is pure madness! I do tend to subconsciously style my food at home without realising it as well, it has just become a bit of a habit!”

I only wish that I could say the same – my latest lasagne looked like Jackson Pollock had arranged it on the plate.

With the new summery season almost upon us and a whole host of entertaining opportunities ahead, I want to know what Liberty - entertaining addict and food artist extraordinaire - thinks stylish, food conscious hosts and hostesses should be serving up at home this year?

“I think the world is becoming more and more aware of where our food is actually coming from, so sustainability is now playing a huge part in what we eat, where we eat and how we eat it” she explains thoughtfully.

“I think we’ll see lots of green, lots of natural, earthy, simple recipes that focus on local producers and local farming. Fermenting and pickling is also a big thing right now!”

Ah yes, fermenting - one of 2018’s top food trends; an ancient food preparation technique that offers a salty-savoury flavour (think kimchi and sauerkraut), considered a healthy option by some as it’s low in calories and is said to have probiotic benefits that are good for the gut. Another continuing food trend, particularly at events, is the much loved food station. A tasty and interactive element to get your guests entertained and well fed. Hotly tipped for this year is Mexican themed build-your-own stations (think tacos and quesadillas), and lavish oyster bars complete with live-action shucking.

“Again I think this comes down to people wanting to see where their food comes from - the whole live aspect of it being right in front of you. I think it makes people feel more involved. People are becoming more and more hands on with food now, which is wonderful!”

Liberty Fennell Styling Credit Ben Quinton

(Image Credit: Ben Quinton)

In amongst various food styling jobs and recipe writing (photographing, and eating), Liberty will be hosting a supper club on the 6th of July with ‘Guest Projects’ near Broadway Market. ‘Guest Projects’ pairs a chef with a curator and the two will choose an artist to base their event around.

“So I will have to sculpt the menu based around the artist’s life and their work which is going to be extremely interesting and exciting but also very challenging” Liberty explains.

Sounds like there is hope for my Jackson Pollock inspired lasagne after all...

LIBERTY’S TOP TIPS FOR MAKING FUSS FREE FABULOUS FOOD

  • Get a Microplane - One of my favourite practical tips is to use a teaspoon to peel ginger! Also everyone should own a microplane in their kitchen, better than using a garlic crusher! And you need it for zesting of course.

  • Make Sure your Knives Are Sharp - Everyone should also own a knife sharpener; it will cut your cooking time down having a sharp knife!

  • Season Your Food - When it comes to making food look good - the more herbs the better. It’s all about the green when making food pop!

  • Dress to Impress - Use linen and muslin for decorating a dining table

  • Colour Style - Pairing the right colours together is very important – try red food with blue plates or bowls for maximum impact

  • Be Untidy - Organised mess is something to think about - the last thing you want is for your food to look too neat, tidy and unnatural.

If you’d like to work with Liberty then head over to the her page in TOAST’s Little Black Book for contact details and more info.

 

Posted in Spotlight

by Sophie Farrah
on on 23 April 2018

  food porn, food styling, instagrambale food

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