If there’s one creative job I am always REALLY impressed by, it’s food styling. It is a constant source of amazement to me that there are highly specialised people out there whose job it is to prod and poke at spaghetti strands with tweezers, blowtorch chicken skin until it crisps and blisters (even if the meat itself is bloody pink inside), and conjour up endless magic tricks with little more than a car-load of kitchen utensils! Food stylists truly are the magicians of the magazine world!
You may remember when I interviewed acclaimed architectural and interiors photographer Derek Swalwell earlier this year, he mentioned his partner – food stylist Georgia Young? Of course my ears pricked up, and it wasn’t long before I pounced on the opportunity to interview Georgia TOO! (Call me opportunist!).
Georgia has worked with some of Melbourne’s most established and in-demand food photographers such as Mark Roper and Sharyn Cairns. Her favourite assignments are cookbooks – she’s created mouth watering images for many popular titles including the SBS Food Safari books and At Home with Ben by Ben O’Donoghue (Jamie Oliver’s best friend, dontcha know). Georgia’s clients include Hardie Grant Books, Murdoch Books, Coles Supermarkets, BP, Nestle, Jenny Craig & The Age Newspaper.
These days Georgia’s routine is divided equally between 3 year old daughter Mia and the endless tasks of shopping, propping and prepping for shoots!
Thanks so much to Georgia for her time and all the beautiful shots!
Tell me a little about your background – what did you study and what path led you to food styling?
I was a chef for about 14 years, I moved to Melbourne from Adelaide to pursue a career in food styling and it wasn’t until i meet my partner Derek Swalwell who happen to know Caroline Velik. I got in touch with her and worked assisting her for a couple of years.
It was very handy having a photographer as a partner when i first started out. We did a lot of folio work together and still do..
Where might we have seen your work?
On the shelves in supermarkets and bookshops, and the occasional bus stop/ billboard. I’ve been lucky to have worked on a number of books now for Hardie Grant, Murdoch, and a bit for Australian Good Food. But lots of advertising and packaging for a range or different clients.
What has been one of your favourite jobs to work on and why?
There’s not one job that stands out from the rest.. I love working on cook books!! There are lots of favourite images though.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
My work day always starts with organizing my 3 year old daughter Mia. Then a take out coffee, followed sometimes by a trip to the supermarket or market depending on the job at hand. Then straight to the job.
I’m forever prop shopping it’s become an obsession of mine.
Where do you turn for creative inspiration – travel, local and international magazines, books or the web etc?
I’m always flicking though mags and cook books… Italy was a huge inspiration for me, Derek, Mia and I travelled there last year and stayed in the North for a month. Discovering regional food, buying local ingredients and the prop shopping was all so amazing!!! And of course American Gourmet magazine rocks my world, I would just marvel at each issue.
Which other stylists, photographers or other creative people do you admire?
I remember exactly where I was the first time I saw Alastair Hendy’s work… It blew me away!! A terrific UK Photographer and stylist.
There are lots of amazing photographers around doing food, but at the top of the list would have to be Mark Roper and Sharyn Cairns just to name a few, Derek’s also doing some great new stuff (of course!).
What is the best thing about your job?
By far the best thing about my job is the chance to be creative every day, I love that!! I love pulling together the props I’ve found and arranging food with them.
And the worst?
The worst is the heavy lifting of containers full of stuff, and the unpacking and packing of props.
What would be your dream creative project?
I’ve been involved in a lot of dream jobs, and worked alongside some very creative people… but my ideal job is doing both the props and food styling.
Do your friends and family expect perfection at your dinner table!?
It’s pretty low key at our house, since Mia’s arrival we haven’t done much entertaining. Though I’m cooking the greek easter soup this easter for my family. And since it’s my grandmothers recipe, expectation will be high…
What are you looking forward to?
Spending this coming weekend in Lorne with Derek and Mia… can’t wait just to get away!!! Eating at A La Grecque Saturday night, always enjoy dinning there..
Your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?
I lived in St Kilda when I first moved to Melbourne, which I loved.. Lived on Acland St then the Esplanade over looking the bay, really nice!! But I was drawn to Carlisle St Balaclava and ended up moving to Caulfield North. Really love it here!! It doesn’t seem too far away from things and is close to family and friends.
What/where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?
Had a delicious meal and lots of fun at John and Caroline Laurie’s Wedding at Port Phillip Estate Mornington Peninsula, incredible food.
Where do you shop in Melbourne for the tools of your trade?
Where would be find you on a typical Saturday morning?
At pilates trying to get in shape..
Melbourne’s best kept secret?
I’ve got an obscure prop shop I go to, but it’s a secret, and if I tell you it wouldn’t be very well kept !