I met Camilla for the first time in reception and, amazingly, 21 years later we are still in touch (thank God for Facebook). Last time we saw each other we happened to both be in Japan, but this time we settled for meeting up in our hometown, London. Camilla suggested we meet at Frequency Café (near King’s Cross), which is a typical minimally styled independent café with a laid-back vibe and an array of delicious-looking pastries on display. It is a café by day and a bar by night, and would not look out of place in any hip city from LA to Tokyo.
What are you listening to/reading/watching at the moment?
I have been watching Spotless and The Missing and Chef's Table, all amazing! I recently enjoyed watching a short film about salt online for a new food magazine called Gather. I listen to Desert Island Discs but never music. I never read books but always read new food/design magazines.
I was eager to interview Camilla because she is such an interesting person with a fascinatingly obscure job. In simple words, Camilla is a food stylist – which I had no idea existed until I saw Camilla’s stunning Instagram feed (@c.m.c.w). Camilla also classifies herself as an “conceptual artist and restaurant consultant. I get hired for my eyes and aesthetic which is not normal!” Although, having said that, Camilla’s work is so dynamic that it is really difficult to define to a title – I would say Camilla is Camilla.
Camilla is her own brand. She is a beautiful and confident woman that is sure of who she is, what she likes/dislikes and where she wants to go.
Describe yourself in 3 words and your life in 3 sentences:
I am an organised, approachable and a food-addict.
It’s like a yo-yo up and down (literally), exciting, nerve-wrecking and challenging.
I work with different people every day, in a different environment on a different project, and that makes it great.
I like to discover things, write to people (as in postcards – I try to write 5 postcards a week) and travel.
What is a food stylist? Is that how you'd describe yourself?
So there is a traditional food stylist - someone like Jamie Oliver would hire them and they would make a bowl of soup look really pretty on a napkin with a spoon – for a cookbook or for a magazine or whatever. They are normally a home economist as well, so they actually cook the food as well. Most commercial food stylists have five years of experience as a chef, but I decided to avoid that.
Instead Camilla, focuses on a “conceptual route” to help people develop their “brand personality” and then produce “images of art” to reflect that. Camilla likes working with her clients from their concept to their images in order portray their style, from moody and minimal, to pop-y and colourful.
It is clear that Camilla pours her whole heart into what she does. Camilla admits that “opposite to most people, I work with people and things I like rather than because of what I do”; so even though she works for commercial clients like Burger King to pay the rent, she aims to spend half a day per month freelancing for a start-up. Though she rarely gets clients calling her, it is remarkable how Camilla describes how she finds her clients on her “research journeys”; from looking through magazines like Root + Bone then contacting the restaurant or the photographer, to scouring the streets and chatting to the clients in person. But since Camilla is so outgoing, it is not that surprising that she can develop a rapport with clients so easily.
Camilla loves anything foodie. Therefore, she also works as a food blogger for the London Food Babes, where she often attends restaurant opening nights to represent them and write reviews.
How did you develop your brand personality?
Camilla has a degree in Textile Design where she attended the College of Art in Chelsea, Edinburgh and Copenhagen. Before that, she spent a blissful six months in France skiing and working as a chef. Then she explored Japan where she held incredible solo art exhibitions around rice and soy sauce. Back in London Camilla spent six months temping, freelancing and shadowing a variety of food stylists usually just for a day. This way Camilla thought she gained a broader work experience from a host of stylists (rather than sticking with just one). The past year and a half she has “never been bored but often anxious about the future”. Camilla is an “all or nothing person” who began developing her brand around what she likes and being strict to keep to her style, which is celebrated in her polished portfolio. Influenced from her time in Denmark, her style is minimal with controlled creativity that resonates with her.
I love food, minimal design, people, space, packaging and consideration for detail. I believe everything can be made beautiful if dealt with correctly. I am a big believer in doing what you love, talking to everyone, exploring and most importantly; saying 'hello'.
What are your dreams for the future?
Camilla’s goal is to open her own “lifestyle shop” full of things she loves, including a “gallery, restaurant, stationary and homeware”. But one day she would love to start a salt company using the salt her father makes and turn it into a “complete story”. In 2017 she hopes to start two small projects, one being a delicious herb salt her father makes and the other an online store of styling props 'sourced by CMCW' so keep an eye out!
For non-foodies, what are your top tips on how to tell a good restaurant from a bad one?
Camilla confesses that she has never been on Trip Advisor, but solely relies on recommendations and her own instincts. She enjoys an atmosphere with the right interior, plates and staff, that creates “the right experience for that time”. She will always look on their website and look for things that are different. Camilla is also a fan of a sharing menu – “the more you can try the better!”
What is the biggest challenge you have overcome?
“JAPAN.” Camilla says she set out to achieve three to four challenges whilst she was there. “It was interesting, but hard.”
“Having a fluid income”. Due to the nature of her work, it makes Camilla grateful for what she has and inspired in how she spends it.
“Answering the question "what do you do?". I am a complicated one and can never describe what I do!” However, she took useful advice from someone to answers with the project she has just completed freelancing.
What is your favourite food?
Cheese and ham toastie or chicken in breadcrumbs.
Who are your dream dinner party guests?
I’d find interesting people I met on the day or recently read about. No foodies.
After some thought, Camilla admits she would like to meet Anya Hindmarch, whom she adores, especially her brand and how she runs her company.
What would your last meal be?
Canapes of all my favourite meals.
Interview conducted and written by Elizabeth Kapasa