Food problem-solving for Vanee Foods

Although much of my work is piecemeal by nature — a recipe editing gig here, a food styling project there — sometimes I have the pleasure of working closely with a client on an ongoing basis on more than one aspect of their culinary creative needs.

That is the case in my relationship with Vanee Foods, a family-owned and operated B2B food company that has been doing business in the Chicago area since 1950. I work with Vanee on a range of culinary creative and support needs, from menu concept development (coming up with creative and delicious ways in which foodservice operators can use Vanee products on their menus) and food styling for their website and sales and marketing materials to providing culinary support for industry events and sales meetings.

In most cases, the Vanee team specifies either which products they would like to be featured in the recipes or the type of recipe they are looking for (e.g. an appetizer, entree, breakfast item, etc.). Sometimes they also specify real-world culinary design constraints, such as “a dish that can be made using only a flat-top grill” or “a very simple appetizer with minimal assembly.” From there, creativity, brainstorming, research and testing take over. Working within these real-world constraints is sometimes challenging, but I enjoy the opportunity to creatively problem solve and come up with solutions that fulfill their needs and those of their customers. And often those constraints lead to unexpectedly delicious results! (Buffalo Chicken Taquitos, anyone?)

Here are a few shots from a recent photo shoot for Vanee. I developed these three menu concepts — Korean-Style Pulled Pork Taco with Kimchi Slaw, Low Country Chowder and Meatball Marinara Sliders — to showcase Vanee Foods’ Deluxe Pulled Pork, New England-Style Clam Chowder and Marinara Sauce in fresh, unexpected ways. Then I worked with the team to food and prop style the shots.

(All photos by Ryan Croson. Food and prop styling by me.)


Leave a Reply