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Food Styling for the Holidays

Kim Kissling | Chef's Blade


Christmas Mistletoe and Holly Hot Drinks (photo by K.K.)


You’ve seen the photographs of all the holiday goodies that inspire you to cook a holiday meal or bring a desert to a holiday party. But have you ever thought about what goes into those photographs?

In order to have photographs for a November or December issue in a magazine the photo shoot has to happen months in advance (such as the photo above which was shot in July). So in the middle of July a food stylist can be searching for fresh cranberries, pomegranates, candy canes, a fresh turkey or some other type of food that is way out of season. That’s why I like to keep a stash of seasonal items hidden in my storage or freezer. I always make sure to buy several boxes of holiday candy, like candy canes, during the holiday seasons so that I have them for the holiday shoots that happen in mid July. Just be sure to store them in a dry, cool place.

As for fruits and vegetables, things like cranberries (like the ones shown in the above photograph) or pomegranates can be frozen. Although they won’t look nearly as good as when they are in season, they will work in a pinch as a garnish or a sauce. Pumpkins can be stored for several months in a cool, dry basement and sometimes if they do begin to spoil or become rotten only one side is affected and you just might be able to use the other side in the background of a shot to create the feel of autumn or Halloween.

However, most fruits and vegetables that are seasonal are grown in the southern hemisphere during our opposite season. Hence, the reason you can find things like strawberries or asparagus readily available year round. And thanks to the internet, with some serious research one can find just about anything and, for a price, have it shipped directly to a shoot. I recently had a photo shoot that required fresh, white corn in the husk and the shoot was happening in mid-November when fresh-picked corn isn’t available. I managed to find a wholesale produce company that had a grower in Tracy, Ca, that was just about to harvest their last corn crop of the year. I lucked out on that one but, again, with some research most things can be sourced.

Next Page: So What About Seasonal Meats?→




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Featured Author: Kimberly Kissling
As a two-time award winner from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (“IACP”), Kim Kissling is one of the leading food stylists in the industry. Since 1995, Kim’s artistry is the centerpiece of more than 70 cookbooks, countless magazines, advertising campaigns, product packaging, television advertisements, and in a feature film. Kim’s styling is displayed on the packaging of clients such as Dreyer’s, Annie Chun’s, and the promotions of Haagen Dazs, Ghirardelli Chocolate, and in magazines such as Bon Appetit, New York Times Magazine and Cooking Light. Kim has a B.S. degree in International Marketing and attended Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco. You can find out more information on Kim by going to her website, KimCookin.