A peek inside the portfolio of celebrated food stylist Nurit Kariv
Her clients span the globe, from a top New York market to Tel Aviv's most exclusive restaurants.
Have you ever looked at an octopus and thought, "Yum, that looks good enough to eat!"
Yeah, neither have we. But Nurit Kariv has. In fact, every day, she takes foods that you might say "have a face for radio" – that is, they're delicious, but not visually appealing – and makes them beautiful. She's done it for the past 25 years, and it's allowed her to work with some of the finest restaurants and chefs in her home country of Israel and in the U.S., as well as help create stunning photographs for cookbooks.
Nurit Kariv is a food stylist. She's responsible for preparing, arranging and improving the appearance of food for photographs. She and a handpicked photographer travel to different locations to shoot, with backgrounds and props in tow. Sometimes a chef prepares the food; other times she does it herself. But in all cases, whether she's shooting for a cookbook or a magazine, she assures us of one thing: she doesn't use fake food.
There was one exception to that: the assignment was "strawberry falling into white yogurt." "It's not the real thing, but I don't want to spoil your appetite," she confessed.
And luckily for her, the job is not just about making ugly food pretty. Sometimes it's about taking something fun and colorful – a popsicle, perhaps – and turning it into a work of art.
Or, it's a food that's traditionally "meh" – not unattractive per se, but not beautiful, either – and presenting it in a professional, clean way.
Sometimes, Kariv gets to forage for fresh-from-the-farm food before an assignment. "Photo shoot day requires lots of logistics," she explained. Loading everything into the car, last-minute food shopping and even foraging and picking strawberries early in the morning from the field on my way to the studio. Freshness is the name of the game."
And though she's been in the game for more than two decades, she says she's still got much to learn. "I have always loved working with food and found that in the world of design and in the world of food, my talent stands out. But I am still learning all the time from my clients."
Kariv styled this tahini spread for Seed + Mill, a shop in New York's Chelsea Market. (Photo: Erez Ben Shahar)
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