Fri | Jan 18, 2019

The Emergence of Food Styling - CB Chicken shines a light on fresh talent

Published:Thursday | May 28, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Chef John Comrie starts putting the finishing touches on his dish in advance of his food photography session.
Alicia Bogues (kneeling), brand manager, CB Chicken and competition judge, with (from left) Chantay Campbell, finalist; Jessica Hilton, judge – styling; Stephen Charoo, finalist; Ryan Mattis, judge – photography; John Comrie, finalist; Latoya Panton, proprietor of Delicious Occasions; and André Sewell, finalist.
Contributed Photo From left: CB Chicken Food Stylist Competition Finalists: Andrew Sewell, Stephen Charoo, Chantay Campbell and John Comrie.
Chantay Campbell’s Curry Cranberry Rice and Chicken.
Contributed Photo Stephen Charoo plating his chicken pasta dish for the CB Chicken Food Stylist Competition.
Contributed Photo Chantay Campbell smiles for the camera after completing her food photography session.

As Andrew Zimmerman said, "If it looks good, eat it." Nowadays, food that looks good enough to eat almost certainly is.

Why? There's a pretty good chance it has been prepped and styled by a food stylist. Simply put, a food stylist's job is to make food look so delicious that you'll just want to dive right in; and with an increasing focus on using the freshest and most attractive ingredients, you actually can.

In an effort to expose the talents of young aspiring Jamaicans, CB Chicken launched its first Food Stylist Competition through its social media platform. With more than 15 submissions, only four were selected to compete at the final on Saturday, May 23.

The CB Chicken team evaluated entries with the keen eye of Jessica Hylton, award-winning food blogger and stylist of Jessica in the Kitchen.

"Everyone is tapped into social media. Just look at Instagram; more and more people think about how their food looks, and are quick to share. It's becoming the norm to style your food, and the fact is, we eat with our eyes.

This competition is about having fun and engaging with our fans, all while discovering new great talent." said Alicia Bogues, brand manager of CB Chicken. "Plus, it presents an opportunity beyond the competition for a possible career. Who knows!"

The competition was held at Delicious Occasions, and hosted by its proprietor, Latoya Panton.

The four finalists are from diverse backgrounds and occupations, and only one contestant works full-time in the food industry, and not all of them have formal food training. Chantay Campbell, who is the only non-Kingstonian, hails from cool Mandeville. She's an architect by day and also runs a successful food blog and social media presence as Greedy Girl Cooks.

AndrÈ Sewell, another food industry outsider, is a graphic designer and web developer, with a love of food and who is looking to branch out into the industry. This, CB Chicken feels, is an indicator of how social media is democratising food - a sign that food is becoming more accessible and that rising names in food will less and less come from traditional avenues.

Chef John Comrie is the only of the contestants working in food full-time. He is a caterer and has a company that provides staff for some of the best-known names on the food scene.

Stephen Charoo works full-time at Jamaica Investment Promotions (JAMPRO), maintaining in his free time the blog Recollections of a Foodie. While the blog gains traction, Stephen is looking to make further inroads into the Jamaican food scene.

The finals of the competition were executed similarly to Food Network's Chopped. The contestants were introduced to a surprise layout of fresh produce, spices and other ingredients. Each of the four received one tray pack of CB Chicken wings, one pack of breasts fillet, and one pack of thighs and were tasked with creating and styling a meal on the spot in just one hour.

As an added element of fun to spice things up, all contestants were limited to the ingredients, utensils and cookware provided in the space by CB Chicken. They rushed around the kitchen space, working out their recipes on the fly, and making adjustments when they realised key ingredients they planned for were missing.