With less than two weeks left to dream up, dish up and submit your entry to The 2013 Grilled Cheese Academy Recipe Showdown, we’re hoping some tips and tricks from Liz Delia, a 2012 runner-up, will inspire you. Her winning grilled cheese titled The State Fair, a Wisconsin Cheddar-filled masterpiece, might get your creative juices flowing as well.
Q: We know that great photography can really add to a new recipe’s appeal. What golden rules do you follow when capturing a recipe with your camera?
Liz: I’m no photography expert, but I know that when photographing food, lighting is the foundation. Indoor lighting tends to be really harsh, so I try to use natural light whenever possible. In fact, I try to photograph food outside if I can. If you can’t, just get near a window, which is what I did when photographing this nacho cheese dip for my blog (pictured below). Just let the natural light shine through! As well, I try to take photos of my food at eye level, as it seems to capture the image best.
Q: When developing a new recipe like The State Fair, did you draw inspiration from what was in your kitchen or did you imagine the combination of flavors first?
Liz: The way I arrived at my recipe for The State Fair grilled cheese was pretty typical for me. Whenever I’m making something for a special occasion, I try to think about my own background and how I can bring unique qualities of myself, where I live and what I enjoy into my food. Since summer was approaching, I drew inspiration from one of my favorite summer events, The State Fair, which meant pulled pork, thinly sliced apples, caramel topping and Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar Cheese.
Q: What, in your mind, makes a great grilled cheese recipe? Is it all about the cheese, the texture or the interesting additions?
Liz: For me, it’s all about the extras! I’m one of those people who enjoy “stuff” in my food, if that makes sense. Don’t be afraid to try new and interesting combinations; some of the strangest ingredients can be so complementary! I mean, who would have thought mango would be great on this pizza recipe? Or, perhaps on a grilled cheese creation?