Behind the Scenes: Good Bite Cookbook

by Matt on June 23, 2010

Well hello there my friends! This week I’ve started a new cookbook project and thought it’d be fun to share a bit of it.  Called Good Bite’s Weeknight Meals: Delicious Made Easy, this cookbook will be published by Wiley & Sons in 2011. My friends at Good Bite and Wiley were cool with me posting some behind-the-scenes images from the shoot — thank you! Of course you’ll have to wait for the book which features some deliciously simple recipes from the Good Bite roster which includes Jaden of Steamy Kitchen, my pals White On Rice Couple and Elise of Simply Recipes. In the meantime I can tell you that it was a great day photographing some great dishes thanks to the team.

Wanna meet them?

This is the amazing Emily Henson. She is the prop stylist on this book and brings a wonderful aesthetic to the images. Formerly a display coordinator for Anthropologie, her creativity knows no bounds. I love working with Emily because it’s definitely a collaborative effort and she’s adept at patterns and mixing styles. Plus I admire her approach to creativity and style and believe that all tabletop and prop stylists should have British accents. In fact I think I just made it a new rule at my studio, justthisverysecond. It just makes sense. But don’t take my word for it, you should definitely check out her feature on Design*Sponge as well as her portfolio.

Asking Emily to describe her style and what inspires her, she says “I suppose it’s Modern Ecelectic. And I’m always inspired by fabric. Often it’s a really good starting point. I look at it, pull colors from it and take it from there.”  You’ll see this in action when the book is out next year. The images are gorgeous.

Consider this a shameless plug. No, there are no kickbacks coming my way from Rowenta but I’d do very bad things for them if they asked. I am head over heels with the DG5030 and love it so much that we had to buy one for home. Iron once with it and your life is forever changed. Remind me to tell you about the time I ran through the house looking for things to press. It’s that good.

I can’t stress how important it is to enjoy the people you are working with on a cookbook shoot. When everyone gets along it flows smoothly and makes for better images. When attitudes show up on set (and trust me, they do) it ruins the vibe and makes things harder. And why would anyone want that? Producing cookbook shoots can be stressful enough without added drama. Here Adam and Emily discuss the next shot and don’t they just look adorable? Emily has pulled some set-ups and they discuss the plating and size of food. She’ll give Adam a few options and once they decide on propping it’s off to the kitchen to work on the food. Behind Adam you can see a bit of the cabinet that houses our Mud Australia ceramics. I’m surprised I don’t lug it home every night and keep it next to my bed. I love it so very much.

This is Adam and Jenny.  They really are the heart and soul of the entire operation. As food stylists they create every bit of food seen inside the book. They take the recipes and craft them for camera, balancing what the home cook will do with what will make the best photograph. I’m happy to report that the food in Good Bite’s Weeknight Meals: Delicious Made Easy is completely real. Adam believes that real food looks best and doesn’t need all the tricks you may have read about. He says “I like organic, natural, messy styling. I call it organized chaos.” Adam says the best part of his job is working with food as well as with his assistant Jenny Park. (what, I don’t get a shout-out? damn. –matt)

I have two words for you: Jenny Rocks. I asked Jenny why she enjoys food styling and she said “It’s something different every day. It stays exciting because it changes. And I love food, the different cultures behind the food and I love cooking.” And we love Jenny.

Some plates and bowls ready for their close up.

Beautiful patterns and colors.

Adam puts some finishing touches on skewers with a torch and makes a pizza.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to eat the pizza!

Here’s a set-up of a shot from the book. I must wait for the book’s release before I can share any of the beautiful food that Adam and Jenny created hence the pink square.  I shoot with natural light which means nice, soft diffused coverage but sometimes I need to create shape and shadow. By simply placing a black flag above the food I’m able to remove some light and create the shadow that I want. Scrims and flags are essential!

More to come later!


This weekend I’ll be teaching a Food Styling and Photography Workshop at my studio in Long Beach where I’ll be showing you some tips and tricks like above.  To kick off all things styling I’ll also be posting food styling book reviews from Kristina this Friday so keep an eye out for them!

(and Sepi, don’t think you are quite off the hook just yet…)