I always feel so lucky that my world centers on creating beauty every day. Tactile fabrics with invigorating color. Furniture forms that are as sculptural as they are functional. I even choose functional floor tile with style in mind. Beauty greets me in every direction when I’m working as a designer.
As I experienced the art of food photography while shooting the spring entertaining story with Traditional Home magazine, I was reminded that food bears the same beauty. Food invigorates the senses, including taste and smell. However, the sight of beautifully presented and prepared food is what the magazine relies on to lure readers into the kitchen.
There was no question that this food would taste delicious. All the recipes were developed by a chef in Los Angeles and perfected in the test kitchen at Meredith Corporation, Traditional Home’s parent company. Oh, how much fun would it be to sit in on those meetings?
With the flavors tried and tested, the task at hand was to show the meal’s beauty to best advantage. Considering light, placement of objects, and caption space—the elements of editorial success—is one arduous project. When photographing food, well, the detail work multiples. Preparing food for photography sparks a new appreciation for how we see that food. We focus on the shocking pink that bleeds from the center of a watermelon radish. We’re drawn to the moment of sunshine within a quartered hard-boiled egg. We revel in the thought of Christmas that pops to mind when martini olives mingle with roasted tomatoes. It’s a culinary work of art—not unlike the art of mixing and styling fabrics, furniture, and lighting that I work with.
This beautiful menu boasts fresh color along with mouthwatering flavors. Hearty halibut bathed in brown butter took the leading role. Polenta and artichokes tossed with roasted tomatoes and olives complete the entrée.
Before the main course, spinach salad sparked appetites. Those watermelon radishes and hard-boiled eggs that I mentioned? They starred on a foundation of spinach flavored with a creamy chive ranch dressing.
Sweet pink and notes of watermelon welcomed guests through a cocktail garnished with mint sprigs and a lemon slice. (Take note: The simple addition of garnish will impress everyone.) While great barware glistens in fun colors and patterns on store shelves, this wasn’t the place to use it. To show off the delightful pastel of the drink, clear glasses were intentionally sourced. Colored glassware, I learned, is a no-no for a cocktail photography when part of the reader service is the drink color.
Finally, the dessert. If carrot cake is not your thing, you’re missing out. This version layered three cakes that were glued together with mascarpone icing and drizzled with honey.
From a “treat yourself” perspective, quarantine life has not been our friend. But trust me, this menu is worth the splurge.
With such a scrumptious menu and dynamic tablescape, why not have some fun and round out the story with a playlist to accompany the occasion? Along with music, I created a diverse style edit for the hostess and guests to dress for the event.
As hostess, picking what to wear is made easier by relying on the table’s colors for direction. It’s so simple to dive into a floral frock when the weather is mild, but if you are more of a jeans girl, keep them tailored and tapered this time. After all, it’s the best way to make sure that your pink shoe—whether it’s a classic ballet flat, a proper loafer, or a fun espadrille—sweetens your look.
Music influences the mood. Gathering around the table is always about making a memory. “Memories” by Maroon 5 is lyrically perfect and we all know it well by now. Fill in with “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars and “I Love You” by Billie Eilish. Whoever is at the table will know they matter to you. And if you’re planning a girls gathering, stream your favorite female artists. Need inspiration? Grab my playlist on Spotify!