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40 years of food fashion

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40 years of food fashion

Our anniversary event, 40 years of food fashion was a feast for the eyes and the stomach...

Did you hear about the 40th anniversary event we hosted last Thursday?

It was great to see so many friends of Leiths filling our demonstration kitchen, enjoying gorgeous canapés and watching photographer William Reavell and food stylist Rosie Reynolds styling a cherry pie two ways.

After an entertaining demonstration, we moved upstairs to our candlelit dining room, where we enjoyed fabulous retro canapés designed by Leiths chef Mel Ryder, and wine and Champagne supplied by Louis Latour.

During the second half of the evening, we discussed how food photography has changed since 1975, when Leiths was opened by Prue Leith and Caroline Waldegrave.

Back then, eating out was a much more formal affair, which is why food was often styled on a proper tablecloth with cut crystal glassware.

Then in the 1990's, Nigel Slater and Jamie Oliver published breakthrough cookery books, emphasising top quality ingredients, and relaxed eating.

The photographs from this time are tellingly different: they are shot overhead, with more of a focus on the dish than on the setting.

Rosie Reynolds, a Leiths-trained chef who has styled food for the Guardian and Waitrose, said she welcomed the prioritisation of taste and texture over perfection.

"These days delicious, fresh food from all over the world can be found on our doorstep, and we eat it in a more casual manner," she said.

"This is reflected in the food photography we see now - everything looks touchable and delicious. There are crumbs, there is mess, and there's a more emotional connection with the food; you want to break a piece off and try it."

The next topic was social media, food blogging and Instagram.

William was positive about how this was changing food photography. He said: "There are many thousands of food blogs out there and numbers are growing by the week. People are also taking pictures of their meals when they visit restaurants, or cook something they are proud of.

"Some find this repetitive, but I disagree, many of the photographs are very well done and this trend is actually having a really positive effect on the Nation's eating habits.

"It allows us to see what's out there. Whether it's home cooked Peruvian, or Michelin starred Scandinavian cuisine, pictures of food inspire us to eat a healthier, more interesting, more varied diet and this can only be a good thing."

Everyone agreed it was a thoroughly enjoyable and creative evening, and we're still getting compliments on Mel's Sour cherry and white stilton lollipops with pancetta crumb, and her Raspberry and white chocolate macaroons!

If you missed it, don't worry, we have two more 40th anniversary events coming up. We'd love to see you at Leiths so make sure you book quickly.


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