Ever wondered how and why the food on television always looks so good? Thank food stylist and Chef Elle Scott. I had the privilege of interviewing well-accomplished Elle Simone Scott, a professional Food Stylist for networks such as ABC and The Food Network and Test Cook on America's Test Kitchen. In addition to creating crowd-pleasing presentations, she shares her knowledge through her company SheChef mentoring women of color interested in culinary careers. Read on to learn more about Elle's incredible background, why she started SheChef, and what keeps her inspired.
Please introduce yourself!
My name is Elle Simone Scott. I am a native Detroit and Brooklynite. I LOVE coffee and spending time with my family. I’m the founder of SheChef Inc., a professional organization for women-identified persons of color in the food & beverage industry and our allies.
I love reading for learning and for leisure. My favorite books are 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and WildSeed by Octavia Butler. Some of my Sheroes are Edna Lewis, Marianne Williamson and my mom.
Tell us about your food background. What’s it like being a food stylist?
I’ve been in the culinary world for 12 years; 3 years in restaurants and 3 years in event production. As of 6 years ago till the present, I’ve found my niche and love in Culinary Media; more specifically in Food Styling Culinary production, producing shows for networks such as ABC, The Food Network, The Cooking Channel, BRAVO and ABC.
Being a Food Stylist is probably one of my favorite genres of culinary media. I love it because I have the power to influence a viewer's first impression of food. Being a food stylist is like being an influencer; it’s your job to make people WANT what the client is selling. It also allows me a lot of creative freedom and because my clients can change from project to project, I have to flex my creative muscle.
Simply, the lack of representation of women, more specifically, women of color represented in various kitchens that I’ve worked in was my inspiration. Also, I felt that having a safe space where women-identified persons to discuss challenges, strategies and victories is vitally important to their success.
Walk us through one of your favorite, most recent styling projects. What was the process like?
One of my most recent projects I’ve worked on here at America’s Test Kitchen is our Kid’s Book Series. I’ve never styled food for children so it was challenging for two reasons: first, I thought it would be easy because its recipes created and small portioned for kids, but actually it was not. As a stylist, I’m accustomed to making food look almost as perfect as it needs to but in this case, I had to make the food look as if a child within a certain age range made it.
This project required me to do some research on other kid-centered publications to see how the food is being represented. For most shoots, I always refer to sites like Pinterest for inspiration. This is an on-going project as it is now a division of the company so I’m sure the ways that I execute the process will evolve over time.
What inspired you to start SheChef Inc? What’s the inspiration behind the name?
When I was young and exploring career options, I always wanted to be a chef but I never saw anyone who looked like me in those roles so I didn’t think it was attainable or realistic. I came up during the dawn of the information age and cable networks were our primary access to the larger world and there weren’t any woman or women of color on cooking shows.
After exploring a different career path and then finally coming into myself, I found that the inside culinary world was a real representation of what I saw on television. Simply, the lack of representation of women, more specifically, women of color represented in various kitchens that I’ve worked in was my inspiration. Also, I felt that having a safe space where women-identified persons to discuss challenges, strategies and victories is vitally important to their success.
The name SheChef came to me in a fatigue induced dream while I was an intern at The Food Network.
I would recommend that anyone thinking of going into a career in food do a lot of research about the many genres of work that this field. Find something that matches your personality and lifestyle.
What is one piece of practical advice you would give someone looking to start their career in food?
I would recommend that anyone thinking of going into a career in food do a lot of research about the many genres of work that this field. Find something that matches your personality and lifestyle. I would also encourage finding a mentor and network, network, network.
The philosophy that drives And Comfort is the idea of finding delight in the everyday What’s something that brings you delight or keeps you inspired?
I definitely revel in the little things in life: tulips, laughing children, heirloom recipes. I also take a lot of pleasure (and pride) in the women of SheChef Inc. watching reach their small victories grow into large ones. Reading about the journey of others keeps my imagination active; be it fiction, novel or biographical. And finally, seeing how proud my family is of my professional and advocacy work keep me inspired to always be reaching my highest potential.