As a food stylist, writer and home economist who has worked with some of the biggest stars in the biz, it comes as no surprise that the super chic stylings of Ms Sharon Hearne Smith have found their home in her very own cookbook. No Bake Baking is the incarnation of all of Sharon’s work and experience on both cookbooks, magazines and television shows. It shows readers how to create the most delicous and stunning desserts, all without the use of a conventional oven. Genius! We sat down with the super busy Mum-of-one to pump her for information on what she knows about food, and what she’s willing to share about making it look… GORGEOUS.
Hi Sharon! How did you get into food styling?
I trained as a Home Ec. teacher in Dublin as I loved the creative elements of the course from food, fashion, crafts and interiors. I headed off to London to teach but I always dreamt of one day working in food magazines. On my first school summer holidays, I got work experience with BBC Good Food Magazine and lots of freelance food stylists and I didn’t ever go back to school! To learn the craft, I worked as a freelance assistant for about 3 years on a huge variety of jobs from TV cookery shows and commercials, food magazines and books, demonstrations, movies and packagaing and advertising. My world was made!
You have worked with some of our biggest foodie crushes, The Barefoot Contessa. Were you actually in Ina Gartens house in the Hamptons?!!
Yes, it was very exciting to head off to the Hamptons to work with Ina Garten on Barefoot Contessa. I lived next door to her when there. She was a pretty cool neighbour! When i first started we filmed in Inas house but she has since built her amazing barn next door in which all her series are now filmed. The barn is palatial. My dream is one day to be like Ina and have two dishwashers in my kitchen! It makes total sense..you know the score, it needs to be emptied but you’re busy making dinner and therefore have to dump everything on the sink, which means you have to come back and empty & reload it all later. Imagine a life with two dishwashers….emptying and reloading at your leisure with not a glimmer of mess in sight, bliss. Obviously I took a lot more from my experience working on Barefoot Contessa – it was a dream job for sure!
What are your three essential pieces of kit and why?
When food styling, my three essential pieces of kit are..
1. My little paint brushes which i use to brush oil or glucose syrup onto food to give a nice glisten.
2. My fixers (ok, cheating here as I group loads of kit together!) like glue (for sticking sesame seeds back onto to buns or crumbs onto chicken), pins (chicken skin needs a nip and tuck to stretch out those wrinkles!), bluetack (to stick cutlery into perfect positions on plates), paper towel (to fill out parts of food that wont be seen), cotton buds (to dab up liquid that shoudn’t be there).
3. My magic stick – food stylists are usually know for using tweezers to place and pick food out but after years of mine ‘going missing’ regularly I gave up buying them and now use a wooden skewer – it works like a dream for prodding, poking and fluffing!
What could you not live without in your real-life kitchen?
1. My Magimix – i use it for everything from making pastry and breadcrumbs to smoothies and pestos.
2. Heatproof spatulas – I am addicted to these and am very particular about them being all one piece and smooth all over. They are a dream for scooping out every last drop of food.
3. Mini palettes and lifters – Besides the fact they are so cute, I love to use little off set palettes and lifters for turning food in pans or having good control when spreading mixtures beautifully.
As a mother, do you find your ability to make food look beautiful entices your daughter to eat less fussily?
I am very blessed that my little girl Pearl (3) is a great eater. I don’t think it’s down to me making food look beautiful (often I am just glad the food has landed on the plate!). In fact, I don’t make a fuss over making faces or fun shapes for her – everyone sits down and eats the same thing. I have always involved Pearl in preparing meals – or more to the point, I don’t have much choice. Kids seem to just love cooking, from chopping, squeezing and stirring to even just popping the ingredients in a pan or bowl for you, they make great little helpers. I definitely think Pearl is more interested in eating the food she has been involved in preparing. She surprised me last night by telling me that the basil she was tearing into the sauce was from Italy – apparently Peppa has been on holidays to Italy and eats basil when there! All hail Peppa!
What will you have for dinner tonight? Do you cook gourmet, every night?
Ha ha, most certainly not! I am very lucky to be surrounded by amazing food all the time because of my work, but if I’m not lucky enough to have leftovers from that days job, then as a Mum I have to fly dinners out! I have to be more organised than ever now with meal planning as I have a very small window from everyone arriving home to sugar levels plummeting to an all time low. I usually do something like a roast chicken at the start of the week which then, besides sandwiches, covers a few other meals from pasta, noodles and salads. My pantry is well stocked with all the basics and as long as I have a selection of fruit and veg in the fridge then anything is possible! Although, dinner tonight now, hmmm….
What’s in your fridge right now?
Ok, so right now that lovely roast chicken is sadly not sitting in my fridge. As with everyone these days, life is often hectic and with the recent launch of my new book I havent had any time to be a domestic goddess. We have been surviving on meals from the freezer (thank goodness I was a domestic goddess somewhere there in the past) but today my fridge and freezer stand fairly empty. What to do? I’m thinking a simple creamy orzo pasta dish with peas and fresh mint from the garden.
What’s Your Big Foodie Dream?
My big dream is to combine my love of food, fashion, crafts and interiors creatively into books, TV shows and collections, YES PLEASE!
Do you wear a beehive every day? (If so, you are our hero!)
Ha ha, sorry to shatter the illusion but sadly no. A sort of semblance of it, but again, being a busy working Mum, I am often glad to even be dressed! I love my beehive days though and try to ‘wear one’ as often as possible. Everyone loves and comments on it, guys and girls alike – it seems to bring a sense of nostalgia from fun times.
Check out some of Sharon’s gorgeous recipes here
We have two copies of Sharon Hearne Smith’s No Bake Baking to give away!
To be in with a chance to win simply answer the following question and send the answer, your full name and contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org
What is did Sharon train as in Dublin?
a) An Economist
b) A Home Economist
c) A Forensic Economist
For more information on Sharon, log onto her website