‘Foodie’ culture is big business these days. Social media is exploding with amateurs and professionals alike, broadcasting their love of food through stunning photography and enticing content.
What if you too could turn your love of crafting extraordinary dishes into your bread and butter (no pun intended)?
Helen Upshall of Somerset in the United Kingdom did just that. She ticks every box most food lovers ultimately aim for.
She’s a food stylist, writer and photographer, recipe developer, and the editor of FOODLOVER Magazine, as well as boasting her own blog and social media presence, chock-full of glorious, mouth-watering temptations.
La Española spoke to Helen about her love of a good meal, her best professional food styling tips, her ventures into the world of Spanish cuisine and of course - olive oil!
What is your favourite thing about working with food?
Helen: I am very lucky to be able to call my number one passion in life also my job. The best aspect of working in food is its capacity to constantly learn; not just about food, but about new cuisines and cultures. I am always learning new skills, methods of cooking and ingredients as I discover new global cuisines.
What is your favourite way to cook with olive oil?
Helen: An Extra Virgin Olive Oil deserves the chance to be savoured - I like to place it centre stage of any antipasti board alongside good bread and a high-quality balsamic vinegar. When it comes to a virgin variety, I love using olive oil in baking. Oil gives great texture and moisture to cakes that I never seem to achieve using butter. I tend to pick one with a fairly subtle flavour though, that simply enhances the flavour of the other ingredients rather than overpower them.
What is your favourite Spanish dish to create?
I love seafood, so a traditional paella is often on the menu, however my favourite ‘dish’ to take from Spanish cuisine has to be Romesco Sauce. A rich, smokey and sweet pepper and almond sauce that is great with chicken, fish or even spooned over seasonal vegetables. It’s so easy to make, it’s just all the ingredients whizzed up in a blender along with a good glug of oil - simply delicious.
What is your best food styling hack?
Helen: Ultimately we eat with our eyes as well as our stomachs, and therefore I have my work cut out when in comes to making food visually appealing! My top food styling hack is probably to ‘garnish’. Whether it’s a sprinkling of fresh herbs, a crack of black pepper or a scattering of seeds, it’s amazing how this finishing touch can simply transform a dish.
Make sure when taking photos for social media, have a nice source of natural light that enhances your photo - try and avoid shadowing and glaring light, however. A gentle side light often does the trick!
What do you rely on to develop a great recipe?
A great recipe comes from being brave in the kitchen. I often say that my real passion for food came when I threw the recipe books to one side and experimented on my own. Don’t get me wrong, I live in a house full of recipes books and read them regularly, however, to truly find your feet in the kitchen you have to find your way on your own.
Take one of your favourite recipes, change up some flavours, introduce some new ingredients and don’t be scared to experiment. Yes, sometimes it might be a failure, but at least you learn what not to use in the future!