One incredible lady we have come across that shares our love for all things beautiful is Jody Vassallo. A recipe writer and food stylist who’s worked with the likes of Jamie Oliver and Donna Hay. Her resume reads a little like this: published in The New York Times, Sainsbury’s magazine, Gourmet Traveller, Mind Food and Donna Hay magazine. Wowzers to say the least. She’s also spent the last two years working as a food consultant to one of our biggest foodie inspirations, Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food. Her latest cookbook, Beautiful Food, has just won the Gourmand World cookbook award for Best Nutrition and Health cookbook in Australia. It’s safe to say she knows a thing or to when it comes to good eats.
We sat down with Jody for five and asked a top food stylist her secrets on making beautiful food…
Favourite project you have worked on?
Working with Jamie Oliver gives me the most joy, he has such passion and enthusiasm and is so incredibly supportive. Working with him for Jamie’s Ministry of Food just increased my resolve to make the world a healthier place. At the moment I am working on a Women’s Health Event in Bangalow called Balancing the Busy it will be held October 10, 2015 and will highlight the impact our busy lives are having on our physical and emotional health. Jamie continues to encourage me to educate and empower people and challenge myself at the same time.
What’s the hardest food you’ve worked with to make it look appetizing?
My ultimate challenge is ice cream, I became known as the ice cream stylist for a few years there and it was very sticky, delicious but sticky. I shape curl after curl of icecream using a large spo
on, then chill them down in a dry ice fridge we have made from a Styrofoam box, I then form the icecream over mounds of deb mashed potato. We have to work quickly once the ice cream is under the lights so it is pretty high pressure.
Favourite styling secret/trick?
Tampons soaked in hot liquid then buried in food to create steam!
How long does it take to style a complete shot?
That really depends on the photographer, the food and all the other variables, often the shots I think are going to be challenging turn out to be simple and then the ones that should go off without a hitch turn into nightmare shots.
Do you subject your friends/family to styling home cooked meals?
Ha, I am not really much of a stylist at home, although my food always looks amazing, when I have friends over I am not a fan of plating up individual serves so it is usually large platters that are always very colourful and appetizing. There is not much napkin action though!
What inspired you to work with food as a profession?
I discovered food late in life (mid 20’s) and just fell in love with it, Donna Hay was my sisters best friend and I was saying to her I was sick of massaging, she suggested I study Home Economics at TAFE and go work with her, so I did! I have never looked back.
Favourite iPhone editing app?
What is your favourite recipe to make?
Ghee, but that is not really that much of a recipe. My Nourishing Chicken soup from my new cookbook Beautiful food is a fave because it is truly a medicine and my friends kids always ask for it when they are feeling poorly so that has to be a good thing. If it is a special occasion I love serving my Pistachio Rosewater cake in summer or my Black sesame chocolate cake in winter, both are absolutely unforgettable, I wish I could make you one now and serve you a piece. However, i can share the recipe with you!
Black Sesame Chocolate Cake
This is my favourite cake ever ever ever. Black sesame seeds are the bomb, I rub cold pressed, not toasted sesame oil into my body to help ground and warm me and I eat as much black sesame as I can.
What you need:
- 200 g (11/3 cups) black sesame seeds
- 200g butter, chopped
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 185 g ( 1 cup ) coconut sugar
- 100 g (1 cup) almond meal
- 1/4 cup gluten free plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 200g dark chocolate, chopped
- 100 ml single cream
- Preheat oven 180C . Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin. Put the sesame seeds into a suribachi or spice mill and grind to form a smooth paste.
- Put the butter and sesame paste into a pan and cook over a low heat until the butter melts.
- Remove from the heat, stir in the eggs and sugar. Sift the flour over the egg mixture and gently fold to combine.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to stand in tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Melt the chocolate and cream in a pan over a low heat, remove and allow to cool for 15 minutes or until it thickens, spread the chocolate icing over the cake and allow to set. Cut into small bars and serve.
Balancing the Busy
If you’re curious about heading to the women’s wellbeing conference, Balancing the Busy, early bird tickets are now available. With keynote speaker Dr Libby, Jody will be cooking up a storm with her nourishing and healing recipes. The conference educates women about new ways of dealing with everyday issues like stress, PMS, menopause, anxiety, depression, fertility and weight issues. Contact Jody Vassallo for more information.