Chelsea Food Styling Goa

Secrets of Food Photography Styling with Chelsea Mendes

Chelsea Mendes in a Goan food stylist, photographer and food blogger currently based in the U.K. Her content is known to be unique, calming and pretty on the eyes.

Food styling is an art of playing with food and food arrangements, to make it look appealing, delicious, and fresh. Though a lot of people believe that food styling is nothing but plating food for filming, there is a lot more creativity that goes into it. To be a good food stylist you need to have a good imagination to elevate pictures to another level by just using simple ingredient and crockery to the frame. Today, a number of restaurants are looking for good food stylists to make their food stand out as that has proven to be the best food marketing strategy.

Unique, calming and pretty on the eyes – if you’ve seen Chelsea Mendes’ Instagram feed with its carefully-styled pictures, you know exactly what we’re talking about. She is a mom, photographer and content creator who has mastered the art of having a balanced life. If you’re not already following her, you will be after our interview! She shares with us how she became a food stylist and how she constantly develops new recipes for her fans and followers. Turning into a food blogger during the Covid-19 pandemic, Chelsea suggests to invest into creating aesthetic content that stands out if you want to be noticed on social media. She can also whip up a mean Goan prawn curry.

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At Goan Insider we had a chat with Chelsea to know a little more about her journey as a creator. The excerpts of our conversation are below.

Tell us a little about yourself

Hey everyone! I am Chelsea Mendes. I am a mom , creator , HR officer , photographer and a foodie. I am a feeler who is completely driven by love , food and aesthetics. I was born and raised in Goa and I moved to the UK in 2014.

When did you first realise that you have an interest towards the food and hospitality sector? 

I was around 10 when I would boil potatoes, add cheese , coat them with semolina and fry ! This was my first ever recipe where I put together food that I absolutely love. They were gone in seconds, and this then became an evening ritual. It was either Maggie noodles or potato cheese balls. That’s when I knew I just loved creating  food and not just eating it. 

Chelsea Food Styling Goa

How did food blogging come about for you? What was your ambition?

When I had my baby in 2019, I got time off work for a year. This gave me the opportunity to explore my long hidden passion for food. As I started eating all fresh and home cooked meals during my pregnancy, I realized it’s something I enjoy as well as providing healthy food for the family without compromising on taste. So I started the page to share recipes that were passed down from family,  friends or tried and tested over YouTube & blogs.

In 2020 it was time to join work again, however due to the pandemic I lost my job and I decided to stay at home to take care for my son. I used this time to invest into creating aesthetic content that stands out, catches the eye, while still helping others learn the methods of cooking.

How would you describe your content and philosophy of your blog?

My content is unique, pretty on the eyes and calming as I’m told. I like to believe it’s got every bit of me, especially the styling involved. The philosophy is to make simple things look outstanding. I believe there is beauty in everything and it just needs to be shown in a way you wouldn’t see normally.

Chelsea Food Blogger Goa

What got you interested in food styling and photography? 

For our final year project in my Journalism course back in 2013, we had to design a magazine. With food being the theme, I got the opportunity to explore a whole lot of concepts and ideas that were just beyond cooking and eating. I started saving pictures but it’s not until the this year that I came across some very inspiring food stylist accounts on Instagram that motivated me at giving this a go.

In your opinion, what are basic skills a person should have to become a food stylist?

You have to have an eye for aesthetics! It’s very important you understand composition, lighting and every little detail , including the props you use. You don’t need to take a photography course. As long as you are passionate and interested in the field, feel free to express yourself through this medium.

Chelsea Food Blogger Goa

As a food stylist, what types of tools do you use while setting up?

I use my white tray as a table that is set up against a big bright window with loads of natural light. I have picked up props like plates, cutlery, little pots and a book to help compose the set. I take pictures with my phone and Sony camera. I prefer the phone as it serves as a multipurpose device and safer to use especially with a toddler around.

Are you good at cooking? Which is the best dish you can whip up?  

I’m not the best yet but I definitely love the process, make it fun by playing my favorite tunes while cooking. I am told that some of my food items are amazing, so yes I’m still learning. The Goan prawn curry has to be the best dish I can cook.     

What are your cooking inspirations? A famous chef, your mom, a cookbook, a blog…?    

My mum would be my inspiration and she makes the best vegetarian food. She would cook quick and hassle free food that I’ve liked, especially due to my busy lifestyle. I’ve got quite a few inspiring chefs who I have been learning from all along, namely Fatima Cuisine and Xantillicious for Goan food recipes, Hebbars kitchen for Indian vegetarian food and Shivesh Bhatia for food ttyling and photography.

What is your favorite food and do you have some favorite ingredients or recipes?

As cliche as it sounds, I love Goan and Indian food, but Italian cuisine comes to a close second. As per favoured food, street chaat is my favourite. 

My favourite ingredient is the humble coriander. It’s the best garnish and literally levels up a dish. I’ve even learnt to grow it at home and have a mini herb garden dedicated to my favourite herb. And ever so underrated salt is an important ingredient for any dish. My favourite recipe would be the Goan prawn resois.

You take orders for cakes and snacks. Where do you get your inspiration and ideas for your recipes?

Yes! So I started the orders only during lockdown. It was mainly for Cakes as many reached out asking if I bake. I said yes as I always loved the baking and décor and I felt this would be a great way of learning and getting feedback for what I’ve done only for family.

My mother-in-law had her own home baking venture years ago, and she encouraged me to do it together. She was on a short visit here and being stuck due to lockdown, we gave it a go. She has helped me all along from her best selling recipes to tips and tricks. Her forte is baking and I love doing the décor, so together we were the dream team. Sadly she had to leave due to visa restrictions, however, with her due guidance and support I now do it by myself.

Chelsea Food Blogger Goa

What’s your biggest failure ever in the kitchen?

Haha! I got to laugh every time I’m reminded of this. I was in a rush one day and I forgot to use a cloth to handle a hot vessel. I ended up with burn blisters on all 10 fingers and had to give a written exam the next day.  It was painful indeed and now I’m always careful while handling hot vessels.

What is your pick-me-up dish and why?

My pick me up dish is a cheesy pizza! It literally makes me want to dance and it’s a synonym for happiness in my dictionary. Right from the crust, sauce and the melting cheese, it’s the perfect combination for soul food. I also have the best memories associated with it.

What ingredients would you bring on a desert island with you? You can only pick three!

Ah! Rice, potatoes and Garam masala!

What impact do you think Social Media has on your career?

A huge one. It’s the only way I get to showcase my creations and express my love for art. I also get all my orders from there, it does the marketing by default for me.

Do you have a method when it comes to editing your photos, are there any apps you always use?

I don’t have any technical experience in photography and editing. I just play along with as much natural lighting as possible and that’s the key for good photos. I use aps such as Snapseed and Lightroom to highlight the images and make them look visually better.

Chelsea Food Styling Goa

What tips would you give others to improve their social media presence as a food blogger?

It’s all in the content! The key to being noticed is a well portrayed image. You have to make the first impression if not your profile will be scrolled past. The feed has to be consistent and it’s best to have a layout or a theme. 

Also post everyday! If you want to grow and make your mark, you have to be dedicated. Most importantly, never let troll remarks affect you.

How can our readers stay connected with you as well as your brand?

You can stay connected with through my Instagram account, ‘The White Tray‘. I love to genuinely connect with people, especially if the mutual love is food. So do not hesitate to say Hi!

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