I have some shut the front door, O to the MG kind of exciting news to share with you, The Urchin Collective now has a food contributor! Not any old food contributor either, the most amazing food stylist ever that creates the lushest of recipes, so lush it's in her name, meet Gemma Lush! Gemma is a successful food stylist based in Sydney and she has the most stylish food blog going around, Lush Loves (not to mention the cutest little Aussie bulldog you have ever seen). So readers, meet Gemma...
Tell us a little about your background, what path led you to becoming a food stylist
Absolutely! I studied Design at COFA majoring in graphic design and environment design. I worked as a props buyer for the Channel 9 Network before assisting a food stylist on a cook book photo shoot - I was in the right place at the right time! It all started from there.
Where or who do you draw inspiration from?
I like to draw inspiration from the season - what produce is looking good and going to taste great. The quality of produce is really important, fresh is always best and most of the time when an ingredient is in season it’s also more reasonable. A good local market is a great place for inspiration, each week there’s something different that gives me ideas for new dishes. I also find that some of the best recipes come from throwing a whole lot of leftovers together from the fridge, it’s not always intentional!
My Mother and Nanna are also great sources of inspiration. Mum is Croatian/Bosnian and I grew up in a home where food, cooking and meal times were the focal point. Their Eastern European approach and love for food is what inspires me. They are very adventurous with food, and often give me great ideas that I then adapt into a more ‘gemma lush’ way.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
I’m a freelance stylist, so every day is always different, which is part of why I love what I do. A typical day calls for getting up early to pack my car. My tool kit is full of kitchen bits including knives, tongs, tweezers and paper towels. Literally everything but the kitchen sink! I’ve usually got boxes of props too - crockery, plates and napery, all to come with me for the day. I usually do a food shop the day before, and in the morning pick up any perishable items like fresh herbs and flowers. I sometimes go to the flower markets depending on the job. I’ll work all day with a photographer, art director/designer and a client, either on location or in a studio. There is lots of moving, lifting, shifting, tweaking and finessing. Always lots of laughing too!
How would you describe your personal style aesthetic?
I’m a minimalist and a monochromatic kind of gal. For me it’s all about quality. The finish, texture and materials are key.
Tell us your 3 favourite online shopping destinations.
While I love food, like any girl I love my fashion. I think I check Shopbop, Farfetch, and Net-A-Porter’s The Outnet, every day for my next purchase!
Can you list for us 3 resources across any media that you turn to regularly for creative inspiration?
Instagram is my go-to platform for inspiration, whether it be for a recipe, ingredient research, or finding out where to dine out on my next holiday. Searching hashtags has changed the way I approach my work, there is so much information on Instagram you just need to know how to trawl through it all.
I always read The Guardian Food & Drink section online. Yotam Ottolenghi contributes and I love reading his Middle Eastern recipes.
I love watching anything to do with food on TV, I draw inspiration from programs like Food Safari, River Cottage, Luke Nguyen, even Cake Boss. I’m fascinated with how things are made and I must say there is a lot to be taken in while watching others cook on the box!
Which other stylists, designers, artists or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
I’m loving the lighting work of Christopher Boots. My sister is an architect and is working on Battersea Power Station in London, it’s a pretty inspiring project. I am also loving everything that Chandelier Creative are up to in New York. A very inspiring instagram account to follow!
What is your favourite book of all time?
To Kill A Mocking Bird.
Do you have a favourite Australian restaurant and if so what is your favourite dish there?
I love Café Nino in Woollahra, Sydney. It’s an old school Italian seafood restaurant that is so Italian it doesn’t even have a website! My favourite dish is the Fettuccine Marinara Rosso.
What is your proudest career achievement to date?
Working this year overseas for a client in Dubai. To travel and see the world via work - what a great thing!
What would be your biggest piece of advice for someone wanting to become a food stylist?
Make sure you follow your design aesthetic. You will get hired on your skillset and approach to food, so make sure there is a bit of you in each job. You’ve got to be determined and have faith in your ability. Most of all be positive and have a good attitude. It will get you a long way!
What is your wildest dream for your career?
To have my own homewares range. Definitely!
So watch this space for everything delicious, for the eyeballs as well as the stomach!