Sharing a food brand with the world means we get to do a LOT of taste-testing. We spend loads of time coming up with delicious recipes that help people enjoy their dairy-free journey, whether they’re just starting out or they’re old pros who want to shake things up a bit.
Creating recipes and capturing them on film go together like Vevan and… well, everything! So we thought we’d take you behind the scenes, into the test kitchen on a photo shoot day.
We pulled Lize Willers (VP of Innovation) and Kerri Smith (Creative Lead) away from all the chaos of a recent photo shoot for our new Slaw-Topped Sliders and Saucy Sweet Potato Fries to tell us more about their take on recipes and photos.
How do you choose which recipes to create next?
LW: We’re constantly evaluating trends, the season and eating occasions such as holidays, where cheesy dishes are likely to be served. We focus on foods that are unique or classics with a twist, so you might say we’re always trying to push our boundaries.
Our team includes every kind of eater you can imagine, so we’re constantly creating for a wide range of tastes. We always get input from our vegan colleagues and dairy eaters and everyone in between.
Of course, we also have to keep visuals in mind because we always want photos that look as great as Vevan tastes!
What are the main things you’re paying attention to with a new recipe?
KS: The biggest thing is checking that all the measurements are accurate!
We also really work at making sure our methods come across well and are easy to duplicate. We pay attention to seasonal ingredients that may or may not be available across different parts of the country. We want to make sure that what we create can translate in every Vevanite kitchen with minimal effort and without too many words.
Tell us about some of your kitchen mishaps!
KS: Sometimes we think about an idea last minute and then develop the recipe on the fly. When we’re running against time, it’s easy to lose track of measurements, tweaks, ingredient changes and methods. We typically have our friends and neighbors test our recipes and have caught ourselves in laughable and interesting situations more than once.
LW: One time, we were shooting a grilled cheese sandwich in a hurry. In the rush to capture the perfect ooey, gooey melt, Kerri tripped. I saw it happen like it was in slow motion and ran to catch the sandwich, worried more about losing the shot than about Kerri. Our heads collided, we both ended up with a goose egg and had to start over, all while laughing like crazy.
Any advice for an aspiring recipe developer?
LW: Just like anyone else, there are times when the ideas run dry and I need to draw deep for inspiration. For me, that usually happens at 3 a.m., when sleep eludes me and the wheels are turning. I keep a notepad and pen handy on my nightstand to jot down those brilliant ideas from the middle of the night. Thinking up new recipes is also a great excuse to hit the town and find the latest and greatest restaurants or street food – to help with the creative process!
What are you aiming for when you shoot Vevan recipes?
LW: Absolute eye candy! We want to stop the scroll-happy thumbs on social media. We want people who see our food to feel instantly hungry and obsessed with re-creating the magic. That requires perfect lighting, great colors and a really strong sense of Vevan’s brand personality to make it pop off the plate.
How do you make the recipes look so tasty?
KS: It’s super important that there’s good energy and synergy among the photographer, stylist, recipe developer and support team. We typically try to shoot late in the afternoon so we can have a glass of vino while we work, and we set the right vibe by blasting some 80s or funk.
LW: It’s inevitable that we hit snags, but we just keep reworking an angle or adjusting lighting or changing up the composition until it all comes together just right. We sometimes shoot over 1,000 photos in a set to find that one that screams 100% AWESOME!
Have any do’s and don’ts to share with aspiring Insta foodies?
KS: Know your product! One of Vevan’s greatest features is its melt, but melted cheese is really hard to shoot. And once you drizzle a cheesy sauce over a dish, you’re… Well, let’s just say you better hope it’s right because if not, you’re starting over.
LW: Never be scared to try new things or food combinations. Don’t be intimidated by recipes; just go for it and if you’re unsure, play, play, play. Taste combinations and pairings to see what you like. Flavor preference is a personal thing and not everybody likes the same foods. Textures, flavors, the look, plating and garnish are as personal as your wine or beer choice, and this is what gives every person their own cooking style.
Is Vevan fueling your own passion for cooking? Show us what you’re creating in your own kitchen! Be sure to tag #GetVevafied.