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Meet Catrine Kelty, ChopChop Family’s Food Stylist 

You know our vibrant photos that you see of our recipes and of kids and families cooking together? Well, they didn’t just magically appear…Thanks to our gifted food stylist, Catrine Kelty, as well as our talented photographer, Carl Tremblay, we have a plethora of photos that show how delicious real food truly is.

We asked Catrine Kelty about her background, experience with food styling, advice for others wanting to be food stylists, and other fun questions. Come for a free public food styling demo with Catrine at Faneuil Hall Marketplace (4 S. Market St., Boston, MA) on October 17 at 5:30 p.m.

How long have you been working for ChopChop Family and how did you start working with us? What do you love about ChopChop Family?
I have been with ChopChop since the very beginning. It’s been so wonderful to watch the family grow, and working with its founder Sally is really special. You don’t always get to work so closely with the founder/owner of a company. I always feel very good when I work with a product or a company I believe in. This is the case with ChopChop Family, I love its mission and it DOES feel like a family. I also love the connections we get working with the models (nonprofessionals) we meet at the photo shoots for the magazines. We have families that have been with us since the beginning, and it’s a treat to watch the children grow. 

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, where did you grow up, and what brought you to the greater Boston area? 
I was born in Paris, and when I was two, my parents immigrated to Montréal where I grew up the first 10 years of my life. We then moved to the suburbs, and when I was 15, we moved to a rural area not far from Montreal. We had an extensive garden and animals: chickens, ducks, rabbits, and a few sheep and goats. As a teenager, it felt like it was in the middle of nowhere, but this is where I really learned about food.

My father was a French-trained butcher who had a shop in the city, and he and my mother devoted their free time to work our little farmette. Growing up, food was an intricate part of our lives and family meals were very important. We had Sunday suppers, sometimes as a family and other times with friends. My father was the cook and my mother the baker. I’m still amazed that she can whip up a flan or meringue without a written recipe, and she makes a mean clafoutis. 

I lived in North America with a French upbringing where, at a young age, I was eating kidneys, oysters, mussels, lamb, and yes…rabbit stew. My very first memories are about the table settings…maybe that is what brought me to food styling. 🙂 I love a crisp tablecloth, monogram napkins, pretty plates, and shiny glassware. There is something very satisfying about setting a table for my family and guests like setting the stage for our meal. 

What is food styling and what types of jobs do you use it for? A food stylist is a person on a photo shoot responsible for preparing the food and making it camera-ready. I work closely with photographers and art directors and sometimes with chefs.
I have marketed myself as an editorial food stylist; meaning, I mostly work on photo shoots for magazines, cookbooks, and these days for clients who need images for their social media platforms.  

How did you get into food styling?
I got into food styling with the help of a good friend who is a photographer: she saw the possibilities before I could. I was reluctant at the beginning. Back then we were shooting film, and food styling was very different then compared to what is it now, but that is another article. 🙂 I took to it very quickly with my background in fine arts and my cooking experience.  

Do you have any advice for people wanting to get into food styling?
My advice for people who want to be a food stylist is to make sure you know how to cook so you know how the food behaves and can anticipate anything that can go wrong. For example, knowing how long a souffle can stay puffed up on set or that a sauce will congeal after a certain amount of time are both very important. 

You also need to be patient. Know how to take criticism well, be able to collaborate, and have a sense of humor. I also recommend assisting different food stylists on different types of projects: magazines, cookbooks, packaging, advertising, and video productions.

What has been your proudest moment in food styling? And/or what dish were you most proud to cook and style?
It’s always great to see your work show up in print. The photo shoots always happen months in advance, so when the final product comes out—a new package, magazine, or cookbook—it’s like seeing an old friend! And we all have a little bit of ourselves in the images since this is a collaboration with many people who support each other. I could not do this without the talent of food writers, recipe developers, photographers, and art directors.

Now for some fun questions! What is a food you wish you liked but don’t?
Peanut butter and ketchup

What is always in your fridge or pantry?
All kinds of cheese!

If you were a vegetable or fruit what would you be?
An artichoke: many layers with a soft heart 🙂 

Pretty inspiring, right? We thought so too! If you’d like to get to know Catrine more and learn food styling from her first-hand and in-person, then visit our pop-up shop on Oct 17. At 5:30 p.m. that day, come to Faneuil Hall to discover how to creatively style food and get some Instagram tips as well. Better yet? It’s free! Get more details on our Eventbrite page or our Facebook page.

Photography in this blog post by Carl Tremblay

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