Meet this week’s guest editor Joe Lazo, a Santa Monica based food stylist and chef, most recently seen dishing up culinary treats on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen. Having grown up in Northern California and visited local farms as a child, he has a true appreciation for the art of locally produced food. We sat down with Joe for a candid discussion about his career and his signature style.
How did you get into food styling?
I’ve always had a passion for working in the food industry. I was fortunate enough to cross paths with amazing chefs who took me under their wings and mentored me. In this time, I was able to discover an appreciation for the beauty of food in its most natural state. Finding that beauty only furthered my interest in composing an environment that uniquely related to each dish. It is through the endless hours of hard work, friendships, and risk-taking, which have allowed me to style food.
As a food stylist, what kind of projects are you involved in? What has been your most exciting project to date?
I’m currently working on many different projects across all media outlets; be it TV, print or film. My projects range from styling kitchens and pantries for hit shows on the Food Network to styling dishes for restaurants and publications.
Top 3 tips to making food look sexy?
It’s difficult to pick 3 tips to make food look sexy because there are many aspects which affect the outcome, but the top 3 tips I would give are:
1: Make sure the food is vivid. For example, try using purple potatoes to add some natural pop of color to the dish.
2: Work on composition, but have some fun and be creative. There is no right or wrong way to do things, so make sure to arrange the elements as you see fit.
3: Don’t over cook the food or add inedible objects, we like to eat the food after we shoot it.
Local artisanal treat of choice?
I have to stick to my gut and what I grew up on. My choice is a Double-Double Animal Style from In-N-Out Burger.
Favorite food to dress up?
My favorite foods to style are sandwiches or anything between the buns. Sandwiches are great because they involve many ingredients that are different and always changing. Also, the composition of a sandwich can vary widely, which makes it an interesting food to style.
Top foodie destination in LA?
Inn of the Seventh Ray. It gets overlooked often because of the distance, but this place has got everything going for it. Nestled in between the canyons with the majority of seating outside. Chef Bradley Miller creates some of LA’s top-notch cuisine.
What featured March ingredient would you be and why?
I would be the Willy B’s dehydrated hot sauce. I always like to balance out my dishes with a little kick of heat and it’s great to have something different other than cayenne or crushed red pepper. Not to mention, I’m from LA, and I have to support my local artisan.
If you could be any food, what would you be and why?
The funny thing is, this is a question we frequently ask each other at work. I would be a chicken wing, the highlight of a gathering that can be made to suit any situation.
Joe Lazo / @ChefLazo on Twitter/Instagram