I have known Kate Wesson for a few years now. We have spent some lovely weekends in Rome together walking around and eating delicious food. Kate is a keen food explorer, a curious eater and passionate about all things related to food and its presentation . It is not a coincidence that she has had so much success working as a food stylist and food writer, she boasts a long list of brands and agencies that she has collaborated with. I love Kate’s instagram because it shows her passion for beautiful food. She posts images of what she cooks on a daily basis; her Instagram makes you salivate! Her style is honest and attractive, as food should always be.I recently asked Kate a few questions about her work and how to make this lockdown more yummy.
When did you decide to become a food stylist ?
“I made the transition from chef to food stylist fairly early on in my career at the age of 25. Working in the food industry back in the early 2000’s the hours were long poorly paid and tough. I had always enjoyed the visuals of food as much as creating something that tastes amazing. I love the different visual texture and colour combinations you can create and I recognised that the plating of dishes was often where I felt I was able to express myself the most.”
What’s been your most interesting jobs as a food stylist?
“As a very small scale micro influencer I was flown out to the Italian island of Pantelleria to document the food and culture of this beautiful place to help promote the film A Bigger Splash starring Tilde Swinton and Ralf Finns that was set on the island. I had 2 great guides who took me around and we visited the local producers, made fresh ricotta and visited the terraces where the famous pantelleria capers are grown. The island was quiet as we were out of season so we had some restaurants opening especially for us serving some delicious local dish’s cooked only for us. I loved hearing the story of how certain dishes have come about and meeting the producers who have such a passion and finding a way of documenting this through a series of images was a career highlight.”
How do you find cooking these days without being able to pop to the shops whenever you want to get ingredients?
“I’ve always been a creative cook but the current situation has really pushed me creatively to try new combinations out and I am often substituting ingredients with success (but not always!) sometimes I’ve had some real wins. The main ingredient that seems to be difficult/ near impossible to get hold of is wheat flour, it seems the only flour often left on the shelf is buckwheat and I have enjoyed using this although I am missing making pasta as I’ve run out of 00 flour now.
I have never liked food waste and recently I seemed to have stepped this up a gear too and I don’t seem to waste a single scrap any more. All stems, cores and cheese rinds are kept in a big tub in the freezer and when amassed made into stocks perhaps with a chicken carcass or left over bone from the freezer. Left over chicken skin from a Sunday roast is rendered off for its fat and the left over crispy skin is used to top a ramen or crumbled into a salad. Any peelings like potato, carrot or artichoke are crisped in olive oil and salt and eaten as a snack. This morning I found 3 bruised overly soft pears in the fruit bowl normally I would have thrown them out but instead I whizzed them up in my blender with some maple syrup, mixed spice and melted coconut oil and used this mixed to make delicious granola by mixing it with some oats, whole nuts and seeds and some chopped stem ginger. I love this new found thrifty behaviour and it seems to be spreading I hope when this is all over its something we all still manage to keep hold of.
Ive also been foraging outside when I’m out for our daily 1 hour of exercise at the moment I can pick up nettle tops, wild garlic and wisteria.”
Can you recommend interesting places to shop online for interesting table ware?
“As stylists we often go to the London prop houses to source and hire tableware/linens background surfaces and all things food related these places are like an Aldines cave full of treasures. When shopping for home or an extra special piece for a photo shoot : Kana Ana, David Mellor, La Tuile a Loup, Texit Vicens, Volga Linen are a few of my favourite places to source from.”
What’s your favourite cuisine?
“I love to explore many different cuisines, food in the UK is very encompassing and London has some amazing restaurants from all around the globe. I find my taste change all the time, we are loving south American food at the moment ceviche and tacos have been something we have cooked a lot recently. I am also enjoying fermenting vegetables and experimenting with this technique which is handy to keep foods for longer during the lock done days.”
All photographs are taken and styled and all the food prepared by Kate Wesson, as the amazing Japanese Okonomiyaki Pancakes Recipe is that you can find below.
KATE’S LOCK DOWN JAPANESE OKONOMIYAKI PANCAKES RECIPE
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
200g Finely shredded Chinese cabbage
A handful of finely shredded kale
A handful of shredded left over- chicken, chopped ham or grated cheddar cheese
2 spring onions finely chopped
1 tsp minced ginger
70g finely chopped kimchi or sauerkraut or other fermented vegetable
sunflower/rapeseed or groundnut oil
4 tablespoons of okonomiyaki sauce or make your own by mixing together the following: 2 tbsp. Ketchup ,1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce ,1 tbsp. Honey, 1 tsp soy sauce, 3 tbsp. of mayonnaise, ideally from a squeezy bottle.
Extra optional toppings:
A tbsp. of toasted sesame seeds/ black or white or both
Finely sliced spring onion
1 tbsp. pickled ginger
sprinkle of chopped chilly
1 tbsp. siracha hot sauce
A sprinkle of Bonito flakes
A sprinkle of finely shredded nori seaweed
A handful of chopped herbs such as chives or coriander
- Place the flour, baking powder and a good pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Crack the eggs into the bowl and whisk in with 150ml of water until you have a smooth batter.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients, don’t be afraid to substitute with what you have left over as ingredients are very interchangeable but always making sure you include the cabbage.
- Heat a tbsp. of oil in a medium sized non-stick frying pan over a medium heat; spoon in half the batter to make 2 large pancakes and cook until golden, carefully flipping to cook the reverse side and repeating the process with the remaining batter. Alternatively you can make several smaller ones by spooning in the batter and cooking in batches.
- When the pancakes are cooked on both sides, brush the top with a little of the okonomiyaki sauce until lightly glazed. Slide the pancakes onto plates and drizzle with the mayonnaise and a little more of the okonomiyaki sauce, sprinkle over the optional extra toppings and devour!