MOODS AND EMOTIONS IN EVERY CHAPTER : ELODIE BELLEGARDE SHARES ABOUT HER NEW COOKBOOK
Kitchen Stories by Elodie Bellegarde. Elodie Bellegarde is passionate about food. Not only does she create culinary delights, but she also photographs food and writes about it. Her talents combine in Kitchen Stories, her first cookbook, which is released next month. She chats to Liz Champion.
Elodie Bellegarde made her first cake when she was five-years-old. It was the start of a life-long love of food and baking. ‘I’ve always been obsessed with food,’ she says. ‘I cooked my first cake at five and never stopped from that moment. I remember spending holidays at friends and worrying whether or not they would be having a mid-afternoon snack (goûter as we call it in French). I’ve always loved sitting at the dinner table or cooking for others. Food has always been in my mind.’
Her father used to say that Elodie would end up working in a restaurant because she loved cooking for others so much. He probably couldn’t have predicted how her food obsession would evolve into such a glittering career filled with Kitchen Stories.
As a food stylist, food photographer and food writer, Elodie has worked in London and Paris. But it wasn’t until her late twenties after working in fashion, that Elodie made a career change. She enrolled on a Master’s degree in Culinary Arts at the University of Brighton. ‘I embraced a career change and haven’t looked back since,’ Elodie says.
‘The Master’s was a two year part-time course but I ended up taking it in three years given that I was expecting my son in the middle of it. I was lucky to have a very understanding mentor who let me do one module at a time instead of rushing to get them all done at the same time as my final dissertation. I kept studying throughout the pregnancy and returned to my studies soon after the birth of my son. It was a bit of a challenge given that I lived in London and had to travel back and forth, and study, with a new born. I am now so glad I kept up with it. The course involved creative writing and media; nutrition; food; culture and society; setting up a niche food retail, and the semiotics of food. I chose to do my final dissertation on food media and food blogging and how they influence each other through trends, images and styling.’
During her time on the course Elodie had the opportunity to work alongside food photographers and stylists working on cookbooks. ‘I was lucky to have some of my pictures published in one of the cookbooks. Shadowing someone who does the job you are interested in is a great way to learn about the creative process but also the challenges the job brings.’
After graduating almost three years ago, Elodie and her husband and son moved to Singapore. She now works with international brands as well as local and international food publications, and holds food styling and photography workshops.
‘I love my job,’ Elodie says. ‘It’s always changing depending on the assignment and client. I’ve written for magazines (Appetite magazine, The U Press, Cereal magazine) and style and shoot for editorial and commercial clients (restaurant, brands, advertising, magazines). I am into lifestyle food styling and love to collect props (antiques, ceramics) and make backgrounds. Singapore is amazing when it comes to food, and the people are really interested in the visual aspect of food.’
Balancing styling, photography and writing can be difficult, but Elodie manages her time by writing in the morning, and styling and shooting during the rest of the day to make the most of the natural light.
‘I love the creative process, from the initial thought and research to seeing the words or pictures on paper. The thing that I love most about the three is how they require different sets of skills. Two are visual and based on instinct while writing involves more research and reading. I only specialise in food and drinks and don’t write or shoot any other subjects. That’s my little niche.’
All of her skills were put to the test in the creation of her first cookbook, Kitchen Stories, which was recently released in July 2015. The book explores how our moods and emotions are closely related to the food we eat and cook. It’s a compilation of 20 chapters, each one exploring a specific mood. The recipes are styled and photographed to convey the mood they represent.
Elodie says, ‘It’s a collaboration with a friend of mine, Denise Hung. I’ve always been cooking based on my moods and the way I feel, so one evening my husband suggested I should write a book about it. After a bit of thinking, I got Denise on board and we started working on it pretty much straight away.’
The recipes look amazing. The only problem is deciding which one to make first.
‘It depends on your mood,’ says Elodie. ‘If you are after a quick but wholesome dinner try the giant couscous and roasted vegetable warm salad. It’s delicious served with grilled halloumi. If you have more time to prepare things in advance, try the watermelon and tomato and olive oil infused gin cocktail. Made in a large batch, the infused gin keeps well in the freezer and the cocktail is delightful on a summer evening.’
But she adds, ‘I am a dark chocolate addict, so my mum’s chocolate mousse and the chocolate fondant would have to be my two favourites.’
Chocolate definitely sounds like the best option.
Kitchen Stories by Elodie Bellegarde and Denise Hung is now available. For more information on Elodie and her work visit http://www.elodiebellegarde.com
Image Credit – all images are originally published on Elodie Bellegarde’s website – featured in Kitchen Stories and Epicure magazine.