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Draft Cover May-June 2015 - Photo Ed Rudolph - Food Stylist Marcella Capasso

Draft Magazine Cover May/June 2015
Photo Ed Rudolph – Food Stylist Marcella Capasso

My friend Marcella Capasso, a freelance food stylist, is a soft-spoken, unassuming person and mother of a six-year-old daughter. Those photos of mouthwatering food in cookbooks, magazines, menus, and product labels have all been styled. For photo shoots, she buys and prepares the food or beverages, and then arranges it for the camera. Over the years I’ve known her, she has shared artisan bread, exotic fruits, green vegetables, and fresh flowers used in her various photo shoots. I’ve also enjoyed some of the dishes she has prepared as recipe tester for magazines.

Born in Idaho, where she attended Boise State University, Marcella moved to New York in search of her dream career. Beginning in 1998, her job as bookkeeper for Ross Whitaker, a top New York photographer, exposed her to the discipline needed for success in the business and introduced her to food styling. Following advice from food stylists, she went back to school; this time, to a culinary arts school for essential cooking and baking skills.

In 2001, after graduating from Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School, she began assisting some of New York’s top food stylists, such as Jee Levin, Victoria Granof, and Lisa Homa, with whom she learned the secrets of success.

The September 11 attack on the World Trade Center and its aftermath marked the turning point in Marcella’s career. In 2004, she and her husband settled in Los Angeles where, with help from food stylists Valerie Aikman-Smith, Liesl Maggiore, and Basil Friedman, she began anew. Working with photographers, who gave her some of their lower budget jobs, she has grown as a reputable food stylist and taken on clients of her own.

Princess Cruises - Champagne with Strawberries - Photo Brian Leatart - Food Stylist Marcella Capasso

Princess Cruises – Champagne with Strawberries
Photo Brian Leatart – Food Stylist Marcella Capasso

In addition to covers for two cookbooks, Marcella now has five magazine covers: one for Experience Life, two for the Draft, and two more for Better Nutrition. You can see her client list, covers, and photos of her work at Marcella Capasso Food Stylist.

Marcella’s fascination for cooking and baking began at a young age. As a teenager, she baked the pies for her family’s Thanksgiving celebrations. During a photo shoot for the Bon Appetit Magazine, in which she had to bake a pie, she realized that she had a dream career. “I was getting paid to bake a pie…something I love doing,” she tells me.

Draft Magazine July-August 2015 - Photo Ed Rudolph - Food Stylish Marcella Capasso

Draft Magazine July/August 2015 – Ice-cream Sundae
Photo Ed Rudolph – Food Stylist Marcella Capasso

She loves the creative process; enjoys meeting and working with new people; and the challenges each new assignment brings. She gets to work in beautiful homes owned by Hollywood stars and on locations outdoors, such as a vineyard in Santa Barbara.

Marcella would advise young people entering the profession to work with experienced food stylists for at least five years before going solo. “Without acquiring all the knowledge and skills, you can quickly be out of business,” she says. As an invaluable information guide, she highly recommends Food Styling: The Art of Preparing Food for the Camera by Delores Custer (2010), master stylist (retired) and her former course tutor.

Living our dream career doesn’t happen overnight.