Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thanksgiving on TV! To hell and back in the world of the most sought after Food Stylist in Hollywood...

By Rebecca Blasdel

"Castle" and "Last Man Standing"

THANKSGIVING. Everyone's favorite meal... unless you are a food stylist and are cooking anywhere from 10-25 turkeys in one season, six weeks before turkey day.

That's 25 turkeys, 10 pounds of stuffing, 15 vats of mashed potatoes, dozens of pans of candied yams, 50 pumpkin, pecan, and apple pies; cranberry sauce, the list goes on. Not to mention the "Martha Stewart" version with roasted brussels sprouts, sliced fresh yams with honey, farm to table organic free range turkeys and geese that run around the stage before they hit the oven. Also sometimes the disgusting - including tofurkey, turdukin, and anything deep fried.

Complaints aside, it's actually fun to get to do it way before anyone else. To power through Pinterest, Google images, and the Food Network in search of the latest, greatest, and prettiest versions of a wonderful traditional meal. No wonder it takes us only five minutes to carve up a bird compared to your Uncle Ralph who takes 40 minutes. The truth is, our feasts mostly look great.. unless of course a big shot actor is eating... then it needs to TASTE great too.

Recently, we were lucky enough to create a turkey dinner for everyone's moms favorite show, "Castle" as well as for Tim Allen's "Last Man Standing". Castle was traditional with a huge turkey, and Tim Allen was "smoking" his turkey. There were 'manly hors d'oeuvres for Tim Allen's show including smoked meats, nutty cheddar balls, and ritz crackers. And girly ones too - burrata with prosciutto and roasted peppers. There were pies, oh were there pies. Pies that had to be tossed, pies that didn't have the exact dough leaf pattern we were searching for, pies that were beautiful, and pies that just were so happy to be sprayed with pam and left alone to chill for a while.

We also had yams with marshmallows, yams without pecans, potatoes with skins, potatoes with chives, potatoes with yams, and yams with cranberries. Cranberries on pies and well... you get the picture.

Here are some pictures of what we do to the poor turkeys, once they are ready for cooking, to make them look perfect. And some more pictures of what is done to make the rest of it look great.


If you would like to learn more about Food Styling classes and how you can learn about the fine art of culinary design... write us at ediblestyl@aol.com

But since we are only human and we love thanksgiving food as much as anyone else... here are some wonderful, delicious recipes that are tried and true to make Thanksgiving a wonderful meal for our families as well.

Friday, September 27, 2013

INTERNATIONAL TACO NIGHT!! Featuring the cast of RAISING HOPE and Fischer & Wieser's delicious sauces!

Entering its fourth season, RAISING HOPE, is the critically acclaimed comedy from Emmy award winner Greg Garcia ("My Name is Earl") that follows the continuing adventures of the Chance family as they raise an adorable toddler named Hope. In the episode above, a cow at the petting zoo has bitten Hope and the butcher who runs it has given the family a huge supply of meat to prevent any lawsuit.

At 23, JIMMY (Lucas Neff) unexpectedly became a single parent (by unknowingly impregnating a serial killer) and now his life's goal is to be the world's best dad. Jimmy's parents VIRGINIA (Martha Plimpton) and BURT (Garret Dillahunt) who had Jimmy at the tender age of 15, don't mind being back in the baby game. They made mistakes with Jimmy, but now with their granddaughter, they finally have the opportunity to get everything right. The Chances live with Jimmy's erratic great-grandmother, MAW MAW (Cloris Leachman) whose eccentricities now force everyone to stay on their toes.

In this episode that we recently worked on, the Chances decide to clean out the fridge and hold an International Taco Night, which in their world consists of "French" fries, "Greek" yogurt, Chinese noodles and a myriad of other foods that have, of course, nothing to do with tacos, but everything to do with cleaning out the fridge!

In reality however, we have come up with the most delicious tostada using Fischer & Wieser Specialty Foods, Inc.'s salsa along with their Mango Ginger Habanero Sauce for a marinade for the chicken. When we were first contacted by the marketing department of Fischer and Wieser based on how much they liked our blog, we were asked to use their products in a recipe and add them to our blog if we were interested. We were so excited and the sauces were so delicious we used them multiple times during our shoots.

In our "Ironside" blog post we used the Mango Ginger Habanero Sauce and dribbled it over our fried chicken. It has just the right amount of mango and spice to give it the perfect kick.

For this post, we decided to use both the Mango Ginger Habanero Sauce to marinate the chicken breasts - which is really delicious - and then we used the Salsa a la Charra to top our tostadas.

So far, we have used Mom's Garlic & Basil Spaghetti Sauce on one of our shoots with pasta and it was very well received. We topped it with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano and fresh basil.

We also loved The Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce® and served it with warm brie and crusty baguette slices topped with cilantro. The Smokehouse Bacon & Chipotle Grilling Sauce is to die for and we basted some racks of baby back ribs and chicken with it for another shoot and a party as well! Fischer and Wieser has generously offered a few of their products to us to raffle off in a giveaway with our loyal blog fans! Please feel free to enter the raffle below using your email or Facebook and a winner will be chosen on October 2nd. To enter, leave us a comment about what you would make with the Mango Ginger Habanero Sauce we used for our chicken and earn a chance to get an amazing assortment of sauces delivered right to your door! To get more information about Fischer and Wieser and their fabulous sauces please visit their website here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway  
But wait... A post of ours just wouldn't be the same without some strange request in the food styling world. In this episode, MAW MAW needs to eat a napkin that she thinks is a taco. "Are these supposed to be hard or soft shell tacos?" To which Virginia replies, "That's a napkin Maw Maw." It was our task to come up with something to pick up that was edible and resembled a napkin but whose color needed to be either white or close in color to the yellow napkin. We experimented with real tortillas, cut them with scissors, and painted them with edible color. Next we experimented with edible paper (aka thin fondant sold in sheets). We mixed the color that matched the napkins and blotted it with a special cloth. After that, we let it dry and then turned it over to do the other side. We made 20 of each. Success! She ate the fondant yellow napkin. No complaints!

Here are a few more edible creations we've made for "Raising Hope!"

Easter Island Sculptures made with cheddar cheese by Skylar Thomson

Click read more to get our delicious recipes

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

IRONSIDE: Blair Underwood and Dominican Food...can I get a what what...

A new sexy approach to detective work from a wheelchair and we got to fry his chicken...

Whoa. Blair Underwood.

I first worked with Blair Underwood on the set of LA Law.. Is this a kush job or what?

In his IMDB profile it states, and I quote, "Blair Underwood is a smart, confidant, eloquent, exceptionally handsome African-American actor who was born in Tacoma Washington in 1964, the son of an Army man, and, with his family lived all over the world. Trained in musical theater at Carnegie-Mellon, he moved to New York and got his first break on his second day there by winning a part on "The Cosby Show," and later scored the charismatic role of attorney Jonathan Rollins in the hit dramatic series "LA Law"

BUT WAIT.. We were discussing movie food...

We arrived at the "O's Chicken Shack" location in downtown LA (posing as NYC) at 6 am with massive amounts of lime marinated Dominican fried chicken with a mango sauce, creamy cuminy delicious cole slaw, cheesy gooey mac and cheese, spicy fried okra, not to mention a sumptuous island banana pudding with toasted coconut.

The cuisine of the Dominican Republic reflects it's melting pot roots of Taino, European and African cultures with
later additions from Lebanon, Syria, and other communities of the Middle East and Asia. 

Arriving anywhere at 6 am is a challenge, but arriving with food, food warmers, coolers, knives, cutting boards, spray bottles, gloves, microwaves, a tool kit...well you get the picture...

6:30 AM. Interior of O's Chicken Shack with food in place warm and ready to go. 

Once inside and settled in we carved out a space for ourselves and got to work putting together a Dominican buffet behind the "shack" counter. In this industry everyone is constantly jockeying for position, but at the same time being extremely polite and respectful (well most of the time) of each others work. After all there are hairdressers, makeup artists, a wardrobe department, camera crew, sound engineers, grips, video village, electricians, cinematographers, directors, assistant directors, set decorators, property masters.. all who need a place to be, and sometimes in some very tiny locales. One needs to know who to ask the proper questions of, how to quickly get out of their way, and how to set up...fast.

Picking up his chicken

The scene opens on an actor walking up to the counter to get his chicken. No sooner had we turned around, and he was pushed up against a wall. Cut! 50 chicken legs later that man was fried chickened out.

And apparently Blair Underwood... Also loved the chicken. Now he too is tweeting about the most sought after food stylist in Hollywood

Just kidding.

Recipes for Lime marinated Fried Chicken, Creamy Cumin Cole Slaw and delicious Caribbean Banana Pudding

Friday, August 2, 2013

Sullivan and Son-Bacon Pizza!

The amazing cast of "Sullivan and Son"

Food Porn at its Best


Food porn is a glamorized visual presentation of food in every type of visual media. Usually it involves foods boasting a high fat and calorie content or exotic dishes that arouse a desire to eat or cook. Food porn often takes the form of food photography and styling that presents food provocatively, in a similar way to fashion photography or pornography. 

When you think about it, what is more delicious than a photograph of a cheeseburger dripping with ketchup, special sauce, cheese, lettuce, grilled onions, and tomatoes weighing just enough to squeeze out little spurts of mustardy mayo deliciousness?

Imagine a flourless chocolate cake that oozes molten chocolate onto the plate mixing with a mint creme anglaise and raspberry coulis with fresh sugared raspberries dancing around nearby. And who these days doesn’t love bacon? We now have bacon butter, bacon donuts, bacon cupcakes, bacon lollipops, and of course the old standby... bacon pizza.

What better example could there be than a recent assignment where I was asked to produce 30 pizzas so bacon-y and decadent that the bacon had to be baked INTO the crust, for the comedy TV hit, “Sullivan and Son”. In this particular episode comedian Ken Jeong (Hangover trilogy, The Office, Knocked Up) played a depressive urologist, and at the prompting of his friends discovers the miracle of pizza washed down with many sake bombs. He exclaims drunkenly, "beer and pizza! Does anyone know about this combination?” The funny thing is that Ken Jeong actually is a doctor and an amazing comedic actor who graduated with his MD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.. But back to Bacon pizza...

In this episode, Brian Doyal Murray, a bar regular, is supposed to be scarfing down the bacon pizza, and we were called in to produce this tasty prop. My team and I sourced out the best Pizzeria for the job as the producers were very specific about having a perfectly round pizza dripping with bacon and cheese that looked exactly the same in every shot, which is never an easy task.  In food styling there is something called continuity. If the principal actor is eating a slice of pizza it has to be replicated exactly as it was in the first ten takes (then the next 10 takes often using a spit bucket), but back to delicious food and the need for 30 perfect pies.

After calling 25 pizza places, we found “Pizza Cookery”, in Woodlands Hills CA, They were personal friends of one of my amazing assistants, Skyler Thomson and the only ones that would bake cheese and bacon into the crust as well as on the surface. It still took three tries (driving out to Woodland Hills each time) to get them close to the effect that we wanted for the camera. After arriving at the set we had to strategically place tons of perfectly baked, sliced and shined up pieces of bacon onto the slice to make it look truly mouth watering.  Check our next blog for tricks on the road to shininess...

Bacon Pizza is the perfect food porn. With a calorie content of 2,340 and enough saturated fat to clog any artery, it is just tempting enough, with its great color and visual appeal (accented with Pam), to look irresistible. We knew we had succeeded because it was difficult to fend off the crew from eating the props throughout the shooting.  In fact everyone in the cast and crew got to eat tons of bacon pizza leading to a truly happy ending again, in the life of LA’s most sought after food stylist.

Artisan Pizza
Sophie Clark, (of "Sophie's Choice” and another of my great assistants) is a pizza maven extraordinaire. We wanted to include an updated delicious classic and much healthier version of bacon pizza that involves prosciutto, shaved brussel sprouts, home made mozzarella, and tiny little farm to table red and orange button tomatoes.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Real Husbands of Hollywood

Cut,” yells the director. 
Oy” mutters the producer as he surveys the disappointing scene results. 
I had to agree with him. How hard could it be for a vampire on "Trueblood" to bite into my specially baked, beating-heart soufflĂ©, get a mouthful of blood, and then roll around on a stunt mattress making love afterwards? This is the 6th take of this scene and there are still 2 new ones to get through. It’s going to be a long night. 

Well, actually it is extremely hard to make a successful movie or TV show. It demands everyone’s specialized skills, creativity and especially their ‘blood’, sweat, and tears. Yet this is probably the most fun and exciting industry anyone could choose to enter. Small wonder so many aspire to be part of it’s magic. 
Propmaster putting a bow on a pony on the Real Husbands of Hollywood
My part in all this? I am an on-screen food stylist, and for the last 30 years I have lived and worked in Los Angeles helping make thousands of feature films and series. I create fictional food for fantasy characters to eat in make believe settings. I’m the chef and technician who not only crafts the dishes to look tantalizing before the camera, but also makes them in such a way that the actors will find them appealing and consume them with gusto. 

Recently I created a beautiful and enticing feast for a backyard barbeque at Nick Cannon’s house for “The Real Husbands of Hollywood”. Later in the season we created a gourmet dinner for Kevin Hart and his on screen wife. We prepared grilled prawns with a cilantro bean salad and roasted tomato vinaigrette. For the same scene we made a seared salmon filet with a mustard shallot sauce, on garlic red potato mash, and seared baby vegetables. Here are a few pictures from our adventures on the set of "The Real Husbands of Hollywood," as well as the recipes for delicious food we prepared for the principal actors. Follow us and we will unlock the mysteries that lie behind the trials and tribulations of a Hollywood food stylist... 
During shooting the scene of "The Baby Shower of The Century" the actors
played pass the toilet paper roll!

Seared salmon with mustard shallot sauce,
baby vegetables, and garlic red potato mash
Garlic Dill Red Potato Mash
4 lbs. (cubed) red potatoes
8-10 garlic cloves cut in half
½ Cup cream
3 Tbs. Butter
1Tsp. chopped dill

Bil the potatoes with garlic until soft. Drain well in colander. Pour potato mixture in a bowl and add butter, cream, dill, salt and pepper. Mash by hand with a potato masher, leaving the mixture fairly chunky. 

Seared Salmon
1 lb. Pacific Salmon, cut into 2 pieces of the same size
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
¼ Cup white wine
1 Tbs. Dijon
½ Tsp. chopped shallots and garlic
½  Tsp. chopped tarragon
Salt and Pepper
Lavender micro greens

Heat a large non-stick pan over high heat with olive oil. Liberally season salmon with salt and pepper. Place fish, flesh side down in pan and reduce heat to low. After the fish is seared and a golden color, turn it over carefully, and add the wine, garlic, shallots, tarragon, and mustard and allow to cook about 7 minutes or until well browned and cooked about three quarters of the way through until just barely pink in the center.Put a nice oval size shape of warm red potato mash and circle it with the reduced mustard sauce. Place the seared salmon on the mash and decoratively surround it with seared baby vegetables. Take lavender micro greens and delicately place on top of the salmon and serve.

Hey Everyone,
This is Wendy's blog contributor, Sophie. Every week we will be choosing a great restaurant to feature on the Feature Food Blog. The first restaurant we've chosen is La Cevicheria here in Los Angeles. I'm a huge ceviche fan and this place is absolutely fantastic! It's simplicity at its best! The menu features all kinds of amazing fish dishes, but the main attraction is the ceviche. The Bloody Clam ceviche has gained a cult following and is credited to putting La Cevicheria on Jonathan Gold's Best Restaurant list. The clams are drenched with a dark juice that tastes, as Jonathan Gold perfectly describes, "like shellfish fortified with strong beef bouillon."
La Cevicheria is located on Pico Boulevard in Mid-City, sandwiched in-between auto-body repair shops. The building itself is nondescript, don't blink, you'll miss it! Once you get inside you're greeted by wonderful aromas and friendly faces. The owner is usually there during lunch time chatting up the customers, making everyone feel right at home. Just about anything you try at La Cevicheria is sure to impress!

Click on the "Sophie's Choice" icon to learn more about this restaurant, and check back with us next week for another tasty feature!