Women of the Industry: Elodie Bellegarde, Food Stylist
If you’ve ever browsed a food magazine, chances are you’ve seen Elodie’s photographs. She’s gotten the knack of how to make dishes and ingredients look better than they do in real life with strategically placed props and dreamy lighting. Even whole eggs on a plate look as though they belong in a renaissance still life painting Michelangelo would be proud of.
Art plays a pivotal role in her styling masterpieces; she has a Masters in Culinary Arts from the University of Brighton. Her manipulation of light, shadows, textures and colours have made her one of the most sought after food stylists in the four and a half years she’s been living here; her clients range from hotels to luxury lifestyle magazines. In 2015, she published her first cookbook called Kitchen Stories with Denise Hung, a compilation of recipes categorised by moods and memories. And once in a while, she holds workshops and writes (about food, of course!) for publications.
Her first memory of food is of her grandmother’s simple meals made from fresh produce grown in a farm her grandparents had. Then later at 5 years of age, she baked a yogurt cake in school, an incident she remembers distinctly. “It was the first time I baked on my own,” she quips. It was only natural that she ended up doing a dissertation on food, which led her to shadowing professional photographers and ultimately becoming one herself.
She recounts one of her first jobs was for a Chinese restaurant, where the tentacles of a supposedly dead lobster started moving. The toughest gig, however, still goes to a job she undertook while seven months pregnant with her second child. Heavily pregnant, she worked on it for three weeks and sometimes stayed up till 4am in the studio. Completing Kitchen Stories also proved to be a test as she almost ran out of inspiration shooting six to seven dishes each day.
It’s been almost seven years at the job and she’s still in love with it. Although planning is necessary – she’s taken five hours to plan for one dish – every photo shoot offers an opportunity for her to work her magic on the fly: “I like to be prepared but I like not knowing [what will happen during the shoot].” She’s also been trying to inculcate the habit of sustainability in an industry that values how food looks more than how it tastes, specifically in food styling where most dishes are thrown away after. Reducing waste stems from a larger desire to care for the environment, a cause shared by the rest of the family; they make their own compost and go to a park or reservoir every week. It’s also these moments surrounded by nature when Elodie finds the inspiration she needs for her next work of art.