Mississippi University for Women Culinary Arts Institute students made an Easter brunch April 2 for their food styling class. From left, Ricky Puckett of Columbus holds his sweet tea and rosemary chicken and waffles; John McIntyre of Jackson holds a ham with a brown sugar and cinnamon glaze and pineapples; and Priscilla Johnson of Monticello shows off buttermilk biscuits with a honey-brown sugar-butter glaze. Photo by: Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch
Janie Jones ices a "flower" in her cupcake bouquet April 2 at The W.
Photo by: Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch
William Thompson of Jackson, left, flavored his deviled eggs with mayo, mustard, butter, pickle relish and "a little sugar." Cricket Sellars of Grenada made bacon- and-puff pastry-wrapped asparagus with smoked Gouda cheese.
Photo by: Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch
Mary Helen Hawkins
April 10, 2019 10:42:07 AM
The W's Culinary Arts Institute kitchen was "styling" on the morning of April 2. From chef station to station, an Easter brunch was coming together and looking good. That's the purpose of a food styling class: to prepare food to look as tempting as possible for photography, video or film. If you've ever thumbed through a magazine with food photos in it, drooled over a commercial, or been swayed by a mouth-watering photo on a restaurant menu, you've seen the work of food stylists.
"We eat with our eyes first," said instructor Chef Mary Helen Hawkins.
Some food styling techniques used to make food "pretty" for a close-up are fairly dramatic -- mashed potatoes or lard standing in for ice cream, cardboard between layers of pancakes or burger ingredients, motor oil for syrup, Scotch Guarded food. But the MUW students' goal April 2 was designing and turning out an Easter brunch both delicious and worthy of being photographed for their food blogs. They know that any future careers in the food industry will probably call on styling skills.
"It can help them in restaurant plating, or some want to go into food art. Some will design menus," Hawkins said.
The students collaborated to plan the Easter brunch menu -- ham, chicken and waffles, bacon-wrapped asparagus, homemade mac and cheese, deviled eggs and a cupcake "bouquet" for dessert. They share several of the recipes today.
"I like to be creative with my baking," said student Janie Jones of Sallis, attaching an un-iced cupcake (in a paper liner) with a toothpick to a foam ball wrapped in green tissue paper. The ball rested in the mouth of a Mason jar -- the "bouquet" vase. After icing the cupcakes, Jones added green tissue paper "leaves" between them, creating a colorful arrangement of seriously sweet "flowers."
For his chicken and waffles, Ricky Puckett of Columbus soaked the chicken overnight in sweet tea with rosemary, which, he said, helps the chicken stay super moist.
"I heard of a chef in South Carolina doing this," said Puckett, who is a culinary arts student and also kitchen manager at Lion Hills Center.
Nearby, John McIntyre of Jackson tried to decide how to polish the presentation of his macaroni and cheese made with cheddar and Gruyere cheeses.
Hawkins told him, "Think about what's in your mac and cheese; what are your ingredients? What is the star?"
McIntyre chose to top his dish with melted swirls of Gruyere before taking photos. He said his decision to study culinary arts was, in part, because "When you make food, it helps people be happy. Even if you're mad at something, if you eat a good meal, you're happy at the end."
The recipes below, supplied by the Culinary Arts Institute, may help in your own happy Easter meal that is fast approaching. Please enjoy.
ROSEMARY SWEET TEA CHICKEN AND WAFFLES
8 cups self-rising flour
7 cups milk
2 cups oil
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
n Mix all the ingredients together. Pour one cup into hot waffle iron.
For the chicken:
3 chicken tenders (for one serving)
4 cups sweet tea
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
4 cups flour
4 cups oil
PUFFY WRAPPED BACON AND ASPARAGUS
1 small bunch (about 1/2 pound) asparagus
1/4 cup smoked Gouda, sliced into thin rectangles
8 slices pancetta or bacon
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed if frozen
1 tablespoon oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon celery salt (optional)
1 large egg plus 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
12 large eggs boiled, peeled, and cut in half length-wise
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon butter, softened and room temperature
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon pickle relish
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 slices of bacon, cooked and finely crumbled
1/4 tablespoon dill
1/4 tablespoon paprika
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.