We had the good fortune of connecting with Anna Lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anna, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Not a whole lot! I’ve worked a fair share of 9-5 jobs in my related field. I realize no matter how fun the work is, I am the kind of person that just can’t stick with routine. Going into freelancing, I get to do different gigs every single day, I could be making food props for a 1950s TV series one day, being a private chef in a beautiful mansion the next, over the weekend I get to develope a new peach cobbler recipe and research the most creative way to present it, too in the comfort of my own home. and all this is only a week’s work. The adrenaline rush to juggle completely different tasks at once, fulfill different clients’ needs, is my secret to stay sharp, and never feel burnt out about what I do. With this realization, I know I have to start my own business, I just can’t be working for one single company/client.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
A “food stylist” especially in commercial and prints photo shoots is someone that dresses up food products and make it look so enticing to prompt the consumers to reach for their wallet. Often times they have a lot of tricks up their sleeves to make the food look more appetizing than in real life. They play a very important role as part of the sales team for food companies and food-centric magazines. And then there are TV and Film food stylist, which need to have all the food knowledge as well as the film set etiquette. They need to know how to make and/or where to source food from practically around the world, all the different eras and all the different styles. But they also have to be able to work with dietary restrictions among actors as well as continuity for the scene to go smoothly over and over for however many takes the director’s desire. While my business definitely takes on all food styling related needs. From commercial, magazines to film sets. But I must say I am leaning a little towards the Film and TV food styling. Just because that was my roots and my background. I have more clients in the film industry than in commercial industry and my travel experiences and my extensive food research hobby played a huge edge on styling food in all sorts of scenarios. I can take on food scenes from an Indian wedding, Colombian kids’ birthday party to a futuristic sci-fi fantasy dining table on a spaceship. But like I mentioned, I do it all and I enjoy any food-related projects! It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road, I felt like I had to overcome a lot of challenges not only to have the right skills but also from language to cultural differences, even my own personality I had to make a lot of adjustments to fit better in the entertainment industry. But thanks to all of my part-time jobs (working in a restaurant and being a private chef) They helped a great deal. Those side jobs sharpen my culinary skills, and give me the confidence to deal with clients, but most importantly, provide me a way to pay my bills, and allow me to continue to pursue my dream job being a food stylist. Being a freelancer is never easy, you’ll get a really good month but follow by another slow one. To be able to keep chasing dreams, not be a starving artist is realistic but also crucial as a freelancer.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in Palms/Culver city area, it’s a very walkable neighborhood with tons of fun stuff to do, I’d take my friends to get a cup of cardamon infused Latte at my local boutique grocery store Rose Market. Do a quick hike at Baldwin Hill aka Culver Steps. Stop by main street culver city for some tuesdays farmer’s market action. Dinner and drinks at the excellent new American cuisine restaurant Wallace and finish with some Live jazz band at the historical Culver Hotel lobby. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There were so many, my parents to start. they are from Taiwan and still living there. They had no idea what is a food stylist and what exactly do I do for a living. Worried about their little girl moving all the way across the ocean, but still supportive no matter what. Now I’ve been away from home for nearly 10 years. I find myself keep thriving the best I can because I want to make them proud. The two people in the film industry who gave me a shot when I was literally “fresh off the boat”, just move to the States and didn’t know much about styling food for movies. Erick Garibay and Scott Maginnis. It’s one thing to have your talent eventually being recognized but it’s another, and I might say, much more gratifying feeling when someone just take a leap of blind faith on you. Those two people definitely were there for me when no one knew what I could bring to the table. Last but not least, my 2 main clients which I do some private chef work for, the Panitch’s and the Abrams’. being able to do private chef work when pursuing the dream to become a food stylist. took away some financial pressure off my shoulder. Freelancer often needs to deal with a high and slow season, those 2 amazing families kept me employed all these years, very understanding with my occasional schedule shifts, allowed me to become the artist I am today.
Ed Rudolph Coya Chang