Earlier this year in April, I had the opportunity to join forces with SCAFA; my former School of Culinary and Finishing Arts, to work on a project for Al Islami Foods; one of UAE’s pioneering food production companies that specialize in halal chicken and frozen foods since the 80’s.
The project involved developing 12 creative recipes using their food products in time for the holy month of Ramadan.
But that wasn’t all… Not only were we to come up with some delicious recipes, but I was put in charge of sourcing all the food props and styling for the campaign. The overall look and feel had to be implemented through both a photo shoot and video shoot of the recipes in action.
So the pressure was on! After all, this project not only involved food & recipe development, but I was also to utilize my design background to bring it all together.
Armed with a reasonable budget, I set out to source our props to support the projects’ overall rustic mood, look & feel, but with some middle-eastern touches that are reminiscent of Ramadan. With various home good stores around the region, the combinations were endless… though sometimes I wish we had more bargain stores, flea markets, or a Goodwill to pick up unique oddities on a whim and which are more reasonably priced!
In the end, I managed to get everything we needed, from earthenware platters to wooden boards, cutlery, patterned napkins, bright linens and various odds and ends. I even raided some of my mother’s cabinets to find some traditional treasures such as small glass tea cups with gold handles and saucers.
But a food styling project isn’t quite complete without some elbow-grease is it?!
Due to budget and time constraints, sourcing a table top for the photo shoot proved challenging, and so I decided to create the backdrop board myself; talk about a true DIY, with the help of my fiancé of course :). I managed to purchase some natural untreated pine wood planks and had them cut to size. Then it was time to get down and dirty!! Here I am sanding and staining the wood through the night hours to create the golden lacquered wood backdrop for our photo and video shoot.
Back at SCAFA, and a crazy food-filled 48-hours later, burning through the midnight oil in the kitchen, we prepared our recipes, styled and propped them for the photoshoot and video shoot. All with the amazing teams and chefs from the school, the talented photographer (with a broken foot!) and videographer from Shadows Photography, and creative direction from Touchstone media.
This collaboration resulted in a photoshoot that went onto produce a 12-recipe booklet, various print ads in food and lifestyle magazines, as well as a 4-recipe video shoot which was aired across various social media platforms during Ramadan.
Beautiful earthenware platters, wooden boards, and bright linens support the projects’ overall rustic mood, look & feel
Check out the fun videos we did featuring 2 of my recipes in action!
After the successful completion of this part of the project; the highlight of the campaign was then getting together with all my fellow chefs from SCAFA, as we took the stage at the highly anticipated “Kitchen on Ice” event in the Dubai Mall Ice Rink!
For the full printable recipes, check them out here…
Roasted Eggplant Boats with 7-spice Ground Beef, Pomegranate & Feta
Rice Pudding Parfait with Strawberry Compote & Granola
Chicken Casserole with Apricots, Prunes & Quinoa Pilaf
Kibbe with a Hummus Duo; Beetroot Feta & Green Peas Basil
If you like what you see, and interested in working with me on a similar project, then please get in touch via my Contact page!
Recipe images, event photos, and videos are courtesy of Al Islami Foods