A little over a year ago, I was holed up in one of my favorite espresso bars in Brussels. Like all the days before, I was sipping on coffee and job searching the day away. CV afer CV sent off, but after months of the hard application grind I had no hot leads in my hands. I applied for all the traditional EU institutions jobs I could find, but was sick of the blah factor these job pages oozed. Did I really want to be in a corporate, serious, probably stuffy environment? In a moment of desperation, I asked myself what I really wanted to do. I tried hard to picture my dream job, where language and experience weren’t barriers. My mind immediately wondered to creative writing and the food world. Food styling in particular popped into my head as I’d been dabbling in it during my free time in Asia. What the hell. I typed food photography belgium, and food styling belgium into Google Search.
In the city of Ghent (where we live now), there’s a food photography studio called FoodPhoto. I found them at the very top of my search. Their website was a godsend, a fresh and dynamic site with delicious and stunning food photos, natural light and impressive styling. This was a place I could apply to.
I cleared my throat and gave the number a call. At the time I was self-conscience to start a phone conversation in English, but the person on the other end didn’t skip a beat. They were friendly, personable and told me I needed to reach out to the boss. So I did.
I joined the team on a freelance gig one month after the call. Knorr Europe was in search of 50 Spring Recipes, with a vegetarian angle…in English. It was made for me and although I was in new territory and felt completely out of my league, I took the job. The working days were unconventional and drool-worthy. I came into the studio surrounded by cooks and photographers, amazed at a place that made food center stage. I’d leave late, exhausted and happy. It was my first job freelance experience in Belgium as an employed recipe writer. I didn’t take it for granted.
During those two months, I submitted recipe drafts by the batch and then the real fun started. We tried and tested every single recipe in-house, shooting the photos for Knorr’s in store recipe cards. It was days of adjusting measurements and tweaking ingredients in what was basically a hip food lab. I watched how the stylists manicured each plate and morsel to perfection. The secret was to not overstyle and make the plate look too perfect. Lunches were a continuation of the daily food fest. Everything was cooked with natural ingredients, with nothing weird to enhance the image. We’d eat the leftovers at a lunchspread fit for kings and take the rest home. (Like I said, dream job.) To this day I’m amazed at how that one call beame an opportunity, an exciting forray into the food world. After working with FoodPhoto, I was on fire for food writing. I started freelance food reviewing for a few online (English) publications in the city.
Anyhow, here are just a few of my favorite recipes from that project. If you’d like to see the recipes just reach out, I’d love to share them.