We chat with talented Dominque Eloise, the food stylist/writer taking the culinary world by storm with her jar food recipes and ‘fresh, quirky and imaginative’ cooking style.
PLUS: Click here to try one of Dominque’s recipes.
What inspired you to become a food stylist/writer?
It all started with a love of food from a very young age. My brother and I ate whatever my parents ate which allowed us to try a huge range of food and ingredients. My thirst for foodie knowledge continued to grow and during my time at Leeds University I wrote a number of budget-friendly recipes and uploaded them online.
At first this was just a way of logging my recipes, but after some time I realised how much I loved creating tasty, visually stunning recipes which I wanted to share with other like-minded foodies. Post-uni, I worked with some exceptionally talented bakers… but it was only when I started shooting my first cook book Jar Food that I discovered I could turn my passion for food styling and writing into a full-time career.
Tell us more about your culinary background…
I’m a self-taught cook who devoured cookbooks as bedtime stories. My interest in food continued throughout my teens and into my twenties when I went to Leeds University. I would head down to the Leeds Market which is FULL of authentic, fragrant ingredients, pick a few unfamiliar ingredients to work with for the week and challenge myself to create affordable, delicious meals within my student budget.
Whilst at Leeds Uni I got accepted for an internship with Bee’s Bakery and in my final year managed to secure a scholarship enabling me to set up my own business, Zing & Zest Bakery, which helped further my experience in the food industry and after managing Violet Cakes in London Fields for a year I finally went freelance as a food stylist and writer as these were the two areas of real interest to me.
Why did you choose to focus on jar food? What are the main benefits?
Jars are so convenient for lunches on-the-go or if you’re a busy Londoner trying to get from A to B. They don’t take up too much room in your bag and have sealed lids meaning no leaking juices or dressings! Glass is also easily recyclable – you can use jars over and over again and they are always sparkly clean once you’ve washed them – avoiding Tupperware stains and the dreaded ‘morning lid search’ before work! They’re also gorgeous to look at, not only appealing to the eye and the stomach but great for visualising portion control.
Do you have a favourite midnight snack?
I always get savoury cravings late at night and mature cheddar is pretty much the only thing that cures it! Either a golden bubbly cheese on toast with a load of Lea & Perrins or a little Ritz biscuit, a cube of cheese and half a cherry tomato piled on top!
What has been the proudest moment in your career so far?
As a stylist, it has to be for Heinz’s Food Network UK Collaboration: I worked on some really inventive recipes which achieved a great reach, so the whole experience was really fun and rewarding. The release of Jar Food of course has to be up there as the number one proudest moment: I had an amazing time working on it and to see it on the shelves of Foyles is still surreal! I love writing secret little notes on the front covers so do check your copies!
Describe your cooking style in three words.
Fresh, quirky and imaginative
What provides you with inspiration for new recipes?
London! We are so lucky here to have wonderful markets and producers who really know their stuff. One of my favourite things is getting to know them and trying their products on a weekly basis.
Do you have any role models?
Nigel Slater. His food writing is just gorgeous – his recipes are like stories with prose flowing from page to page and his Kitchen Diaries series constantly inspires me to enjoy what I’m doing and remember my love of food and the process of cooking it.
What food takes you back to childhood?
Flapjack. And soup! We’d always have a big roast on a Sunday as a family and Dad would boil up the bones afterwards for a good few days worth of soup to feed us the following week.
What’s next on the cards?
Apart from food styling, demo cheffing and recipe creating, next year holds some exciting activity in store – new brand collaborations, some column writing perhaps and even a new cook book… so watch this space!