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The 3-Minute Interview

Time it took to be interviewed : 10 minutes. Time it takes to read the interview: less than 1 minute. Value of reading the interview: priceless because it is free!


Cherkasky is a D.C.-based food stylist, writer and crafter.

Describe what you do.

I'm the person who makes the food for the photographs. I shop and I cook, then I build it and work on the set.

Who sees the food?

I do a lot of magazine photographs, a lot of packaging and advertising. McCormick spice, Maggie Moo's Ice Cream, Rich's foods. I just worked on a book for the American Diabetic Association called "Diabetes Comfort Food Cookbook." And I worked on the book "Dining with the Washingtons" which is the first cook book the Mount Vernon estate has ever done.

What was it like cooking recipes from the 1700s?

That was very interesting. They worked with a very well known culinary historian. I'm interested in culinary history, so I liked it.

What kind of recipes were in the book?

Hoe cakes, made with cornmeal. They had a mill for grinding corn at Mount Vernon. There was also something called a great cake, which was made with a lot of dried fruit.

How is food styling different than just cooking?

You have to know how to cook. I think I'm a much better stylist because I'm a good cook. Knowing food is really important if you are going to be a stylist.

What's the most important thing to know about food styling?

That the food is always changing. It's extremely perishable. It's your job to keep it looking good as long as it needs to look good. It could be two hours.

How to you keep it looking good?

There are lots of little techniques. A lot of it is moisture. Using water and oil. I carry several boxes of supplies.

What do you use?

Glycerin, sticks and forceps, Q-Tips. I use lots of Q-Tips. And Armor All.

What's Armor All doing on food?

It holds moisture in. It's great on tortillas. It keeps them from drying out.

-- Susan Ferrechio

The Examiner