News / USA

Stylist Gets Food Ready for its Close Up

Making meals appear tempting and delicious

Food stylist Lisa Cherkasky preps a sandwich during a photo shoot.
Food stylist Lisa Cherkasky preps a sandwich during a photo shoot.
June Soh

When people think of stylists, it's usually a fashion or hair stylist. Many haven't heard of food stylists. But if you've looked through a cookbook, a newspaper food section or at a restaurant advertisement on TV, you have seen evidence of their work.

To food stylist Lisa Cherkasky, every detail makes a big difference. Her job is to make food look tasty and tantalizing for a photo shoot. At the moment, she is looking for just the right position for the garnish on a salmon bagel. After numerous tweaks, the bagel is ready for what she hopes is the final shot.

“It helps to have a good eye, being able to look at an image and see if it needs a different color, needs to be balanced another way," she says. "Also you need to understand food. You understand how it works chemically, how it works gastronomically. It is sort of like making a painting, I think, or a sculpture, so it has to be appealing aesthetically.”   

Today, Cherkasky is styling bread from the Gold Crust Baking Company. She gathers the ingredients, cooks the dishes and garnishes them so they're camera-ready. She often uses tricks or employs gadgets intended for other things.

“It might be a paint stripper because it produces heat but it does not blow like a hairdryer so you can warm something," she says. "It might be a grill starter that is used to make grill marks. I use Armor All (car product) that I spray on to keep things moist.”

Cherkasky began to explore food in her family's kitchen when she was in high school. She went on to study at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and worked as a chef for more than 10 years.

“Then I was looking to make a change to get out of restaurant work and I started working for Time-Life books in Alexandria (Virginia)," she says. "I started there doing recipe development and styling was part of the job.”

She's been a food stylist ever since and now partners with food photographer Renee Comet.

“We are all working as a team. If I don’t have a stylist I can’t concentrate on what I need to do," says Comet. "It is what makes a great photograph. Lisa and I probably have done maybe 30 cookbooks together over the years.”

Food stylist Lisa Cherkasky has produced numerous cookbooks with her partner, photographer Renee Comet.
Food stylist Lisa Cherkasky has produced numerous cookbooks with her partner, photographer Renee Comet.

Cherkasky has clients at magazines, cook books, newspapers, bakeries and food companies. Nausika Lyubinsky, a co-owner of the Gold Crust Baking Company, is watching the step-by-step process of today's shoot. Her company is planning a website to showcase its products.

"They see things that we are not used to seeing and it is wonderful," says Lyubinsky. "What we wanted to do is make sure these photos are attractive, that the chefs say 'I want that on my menu, mmm' or 'That looks good, I can make a sandwich out of it.' So, it is very important.”  

Cherkasky says in the beginning there was a lot of trial and error. “You could not really read anything. Now you can read. There are tons to read about food styling, but 25 years ago, right, you teach yourself. You can now take classes, and you can take it online. ”  

Cherkasky believes it helps to love food. She loves to look at it, eat it and even read about it. She says food pulls people together and it's essential.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs