Fake Yes, But Beautiful

Chefs, Cooking, Recipes By Apr 23, 2018

Happily, I’ve known Denise Vivaldo for decades. She could have been a comedian. A good one. Most of what she says and writes is funny.

But no …

She made her mark in food styling and food writing. She so good at styling for photos that she could even make soupy glop look appealing.

Or, how about this ice cream?  It’s fake.

Recently we met at Melissa’s Produce in Vernon, to delve into the 2nd edition of her popular book, “The Food Stylist’s Handbook” (by Denise Vivaldo with Cindie Flannigan, Skyhorse).


The book is packed with information for readers that want a career as a food stylist, or for those with a desire to create mouth-watering photos for their blogs or to share with friends on Facebook.


Ever look at a food photo and wonder why the dish looks so irresistible? Peering at that image you can almost smell that irresponsibility. Nearly taste the flavors and feel the texture? Most likely a food stylist worked hard to make that photo draw you in.

At Melissa’s Produce, Vivaldo and Flannigan showed how to prepare fake ice cream intended to use for photographs that require some time to shoot.  The real deal tends to melt quickly, but this “stuff” could last practically forever – meaning weeks. It’s basically powdered sugar and a solid fat of some sort.

Please don’t eat this! It’s absolutely fake! But interesting, right?

Phony-For-Photos Ice Cream

Traditional ice cream scoops, heavy duty in the size desired
1 cup vegetable shortening
2 pounds powdered sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Food coloring

  1. Use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat together 1 cup shortening and 1 cup powdered sugar on low speed until combined. Add the rest of the powdered sugar very gradually on low speed until mixture has the texture of Play-Doh. Add cornstarch and continue beating for at least 10 minutes on medium-low speed. During this time, add food coloring in a small amount and allow it to be completely mixed into the fake ice cream before adding more.
  2. Place mixture on work surface and knead briefly. Make a few practice scoops and adjust consistency at this time. If the mixture doesn’t come easily out of the scoop, knead in a teaspoon more of cornstarch. If mixture is too dry, knead in a tablespoon of shortening. If too wet, knead in 2 tablespoons powdered sugar.


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