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An Establish Food Stylist Moves From City to Country

An Establish Food Stylist Moves From City to Country

Cheese from Cork. (photo by creative commons user dragonfiregrill)

Ailin Quinlan | Irish Times

NEW LIFE: Chef Dianne Curtin moved from being a food stylist in London to being a food lover in west Cork

WHEN DIANNE Curtin abandoned a metropolitan lifestyle and demanding career as a food stylist in London to live on a remote west Cork hill, she could never have envisaged what lay ahead.

If you’d told her that within a few years she’d write a book, work with national organisations to promote Irish food tourism, launch a food awards scheme and help establish a thriving local farmers’ market, she would have laughed.

The Sheffield-born chef, who had previously worked at Fortnum & Mason and one of the capital’s top hotels, had carved out a career as a food stylist in London, organizing food-shoots for publications such as Hello! magazine and other high-profile corporate clients.

One day she could be organizing a dinner party scene with Elspeth Howe, wife of Lord Geoffrey Howe, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, the next a barbecue shoot with TV personality Chris Tarrant.

“It was a high-profile job, which could be quite demanding,” she says.

On any given Monday, Curtin might re-create a suburban garden into a Midsummer Night’s Dream fairy grotto for a summer lifestyle shot.

Tuesday could see her styling a food-shoot with the cast of Coronation Streetor setting up a beach picnic with a gaggle of high- maintenance models. On Wednesday the mother of two could spend hours dressing an empty set for a cosy Christmas scene complete with roast turkey and fairy lights – in July.

She also worked for the TV Times, and for public relations companies representing food clients like Colman’s Mustard and Torres Wines.

“It was all fairly mad. We were really busy. We’d have a shoot every week for Hello!magazine, and there’d be location shoots for other jobs as we worked for a number of high profile clients.

“We also had to devise recipes for the foods they wanted to promote. It was a very enjoyable job, but very pressurised. At the same time I had two young children so there was a lot of juggling in order to keep the family show on the road.”

The skill of a good food stylist, explains Curtin, lies in knowing exactly how food behaves under photographic lighting and how long it will “sit” for the cameras before it begins to look dull.