Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Spicy Chorizo and Vegetable Chili

Doesn't that bowl of chili just look delicious? ...No no, I'm not bragging.  I'm just trying to point out the effectiveness of a few techniques derived from a method the professionals call "food styling."  Yep, food styling is an actual profession in which a person is paid to make food look good.  So basically, a food stylist is a makeup artist for food.

Have you ever been to a restaurant that serves beautiful plates of food and tried to take a picture of said plate of food that came out looking like mush?  Or maybe you went to that hole-in-the-wall Chinese place that displayed photos of some questionably-looking (albeit, delicious) food next to the menu items.  Ever wondered why your fast-food cheeseburger looks like a week-old, smashed-down version of the ones you see in commercials?  That's right! It all has to do with food styling (or in some cases the lack thereof).

One fascinating thing about the profession is the multitude of factors that must be considered which include lighting, plate shapes and colors, background props, placement of the food, placement of each visible ingredient in the food, etc., etc.  Sometimes, even non-edible items are used to make something look scrumptious while sitting in a studio during a day-long photo shoot.  (For example, while photographing cereal, a food stylist will often use glue in place of milk to keep the cereal looking crunchy and fresh!)

What people think all my meals look like...

What they actually look like.

When photographing food for my blog, I often take many factors into consideration, and do my best to make the food look as good as it tastes; but, there is definitely a learning process involved, and there is only so much you can do without a studio and fancy lighting equipment.  Although my photos aren't exactly professional quality, I'd like to think that the food and recipes are, which is why I enjoy sharing them with all of you!

That being said, here is a recipe for my Spicy Chorizo and Vegetable Chili, which wasn't originally intended for the blog, but it came out pretty darn good.  It's packed with flavor and a ton of vegetables, and it makes a great summer or winter dish.  Enjoy!

Spicy Chorizo and Vegetable Chili

Servings: About 8

  • 1 pound of grassfed beef chorizo
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 small zucchini, chopped
  • 2 small yellow squash, chopped
  • 1  28oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 3-4 cups beef or chicken broth
      For Garnish: avocado and green onions (if desired)

  1. Brown the chorizo in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, bell peppers, chili powder, paprika, salt, oregano, garlic powder, and pepper, and sauté for a couple minutes.
  3. Next, add the zucchini and squash, and sauté for several more minutes until the vegetables begin to turn soft.
  4. Add the can of diced tomatoes, and the broth.  Stir and let simmer for 20-30  minutes.
  5. Serve and garnish with avocado, green onions, cilantro, etc.

Have you had any experience (or mishaps) with food styling or photography in general?  Share your stories in the comments below.