Rachel Sherwood always knew she’d have a career in the world of food. As a child, she was constantly at her mom’s side when she was cooking. When Sherwood first attended a family friend’s food-styling photoshoot, she knew she had found her dream career.
Sherwood attended Le Cordon Bleu to train in a classic kitchen. “It’s not common for food stylists to have full culinary training,” she says. “But I thought ‘If I’m styling the food, I want to know how to cook it, too.’”
During her 17 years as a professional food stylist, Sherwood has worked with big-name clients, including General Mills, Wholly Guacamole and Heinz. She loves the creative aspect of food-styling, but felt there was a contrived aspect to it that motivated her to offer cooking classes and meal-planning services as part of her business, Impressions Foodstyling.
“There’s a reason why frozen food packages look different and why your Pinterest recipes fail,” says Sherwood. “It sets people up to fail. Food has to be practical and simple. If food doesn’t fit into our lifestyles, we won’t continue to [make the effort.]”
Sherwood offers cooking classes which focus on technique instead of recipes. She says, “Once you know the technique, you can customize it to your needs, taste, allergies, pantry—everything. And that’s really being more efficient in your kitchen.”
Sharing her knowledge of efficiency, batch-cooking and using ingredients in multiple ways, Sherwood goes above and beyond to impart her knowledge to her students. She teaches clients how to make staple dishes, including risotto and meatballs.
“[Risotto] is fancy in a restaurant, and a lot of people think they can’t make it. But it’s really simple, and children and adults will enjoy it,” she says. “I also give ideas on how to make it fit a family’s needs, taste and diet.”
Sherwood offers tips on presentation. “You know subconsciously, if it doesn’t look good you won’t taste it, but if it looks great, you’ll try it.”
Adding color to your meal—vegetables, lemon zest, toasted sesame seeds or an herbed sauce—is one of the ways to take your meal to the next level. Sherwood also recommends adding texture. For breakfast, add dried cranberries or pecans to oatmeal; for lunch and dinner, add lemon zest, toasted nuts, or crusted chicken for an array of flavor and texture.
“It takes 30 seconds or less,” Sherwood says. “But thinking about your food in a different way, it’s amazing.”
Stephanie Battista hired Sherwood to help her cook with a new infant at home. "We worked on knife skills, keeping a well-stocked pantry and technique," says Battista. She learned to create sauces, customize meals and more. She attended classes with other moms learning how to make new foods and flavors more appealing to kids.
Casie Wilm wanted to learn about batch cooking. “With work and two small children, I had fallen into a bad habit of scrambling to make dinner at the last minute,” says Wilm. “But with a small shift in approach, I feel better knowing I’m serving something more wholesome to my family.”
Sherwood says, “I like to build confidence. There’s nothing more important than a client who says, ‘My family loves this homemade mac and cheese better than the box recipe!’ It boosts confidence and provides a higher quality meal—I love that.”