In the church of food styling, the perfect scoop of vanilla ice cream is the definitive holy grail. The old doctrine called for mounds of Crisco and corn syrup masquerading as the real thing – ingredients that can stand longer under the hot lights without melting.
Hodgdon recalls herself as a 10-year-old adjusting her mother's freezer so her Breyer's would better resemble the image on the carton. She still holds her ice cream to the same unyielding standards, shunning the Crisco formula and insists on replacing the styled scoops on every single camera take.
Those who only interact with food when they are consuming it may imagine this work as a grotesque craft: technicians wielding drills and hot glue guns, transforming beef patties into something unrecognizable (and certainly not edible). However, not only do most food stylists apply similar standards as Michelin starred restaurants, they approach their plates with an artist's sensibility.
Even so, all food stylists encounter true moments of emergency where extreme measures must be taken to get the perfect hero shot, especially if it's to add drama, rather than misrepresent the food itself.
One stylist cautiously shares how a director wanted meatballs to bounce when they were dropped onto a bread roll. An impossible feat: even a dense meatball would be far too light to bounce off the bread. Solution?
"I cooked the meatballs with lead weights inside them," the stylist said.