Meet The Food and Prop Stylist Preaching the New Art of Cooking

***Rachel Khoo would like to thank all the inspiring people who helped make the Khoollect studio a hive of creativity. Although the Khoollect studio’s doors have now closed, you can keep up with Rachel’s newest adventures on and on Rachel’s Instagram and Facebook pages – and, continue to enjoy the Khoollect website’s stories and recipes, which will remain available.***

Chances are, if you’ve spent time meandering Khoollect, you will have already encountered Frankie Unsworth. This London-based food and prop stylist and freshly published cookbook author has developed and styled countless recipes and food shoots for Khoollect, and if you haven’t spotted her in the Khoollect Studio kitchen lately, then it’s likely you’ve at least caught a glimpse of her trusty sidekick, whippet Isla.

If you’re counting the feathers in Frankie’s cap we can assure you, you’ll loose track. From hosting pop-up restaurants around the world, to styling shoots for Rachel Khoo, Nigella Lawson, The Guardian, Hemsley + Hemsley and many more of the UK’s most talented and up-and-coming foodies, Frankie’s accomplishments are too many and too great to reduce to feathers and caps and clichés.

Frankie’s foray into the world of food writing and styling started fresh out of university.

“I got an internship with a food magazine and was then offered a full-time job as a staff writer. After a year working in the Bath office, I moved to Paris (for love) where I carried on doing my job for another two years.”

That’s when Frankie met and became fast friends with Khoollect Editor-in-Chief Rachel Khoo. They teamed up and worked on pop-up restaurants in various locations around the world, then on to The Little Paris Kitchen cookbook and television series they went with Frankie firmly at Rachel’s side as styling guru…followed by more and more projects and collaborations over the years.

There’s no doubt why Frankie has been successful in the food industry: beyond her talent for food writing and styling, this lady is pure positivity to work alongside. She joined us in the Khoollect Studio this month to talk about her debut cookbook The New Art of Cooking: A Modern Guide to Preparing and Styling Delicious Food and tell us just a tiny bit about herself…

Where do you currently call home?

A little Victorian terrace in Brixton in South London with my boyfriend and whippet.

You’ve lived in many different countries around the world, including England, France, Italy, Australia, and Argentina; has living in all these different places made you more open to adventures or taking risks? 

I like to think it has. My wanderlust was inspired by my parents, who pulled me and my sister out of school for a year when I was seven and bought the family a round-the-world ticket. I think their boldness rubbed off on me and gave me the guts to move around as much as I did in my 20s. From a food perspective, all the traveling has definitely influenced me and given me a greater knowledge of different cuisines and customs.

You are super talented at food writing, cooking and styling beautiful dishes; what did you enjoy most about creating your new cookbook, The New Art of Cooking? And what was the most challenging part of the project? 

That’s very kind. I enjoyed brainstorming in the early stages – it’s that period of time when you can waffle away on your laptop and come up with all the ideas, before the realisation that you have to organise those ideas into a logical structure – the impossible part.

Whippet nose photobomb. Pic by @messyla #whippetsofinstagram

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What inspires you?

One of the inspiring parts of my job is spending time in prop houses surrounded by all the beautifully curated collections. I love rooting through these collections with a brief in mind and bringing the vision together for a photoshoot. It’s usually the only calm part of the job! Props Ltd, Prop Supply Co. and Topham Street are three brilliant prop house all run by stylists. They house the works of talented ceramic designers, beautiful sun-bleached textiles found in flea markets and wooden chopping boards worn to within an inch of their life, among many many other things.

Where do you find your motivation?

The people I meet and work with on shoots are always inspiring: art directors, photographers, chefs, food writers, graphic designers and stylists. It’s easy to be motivated when you’re collaborating with passionate and creative people.

Lunch of dreams – seafood season @nomacph

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I love interiors stylist Hans Blomquist’s work, particularly his book In the Mood for Colour. I also follow the Minford blog closely, which is curated by stylist Twig Hutchinson who has exquisite taste and great tips.

What would you like to do in the future – what do you daydream about?

There are so many things I want to learn – the list is never-ending. I daydream about moving to France and running a boutique hotel with a kitchen garden and having my own goats to make fresh cheese. That’s the dream – it’s my 10 year plan, so watch this space.

Pampas love

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I khoollect a few… 

In my home, it’s all about the props. I love collecting knick-knacks from all over the place: bowls, milk jugs, random pieces of cutlery, linens, fabric off-cuts and glassware for all occasions. Nothing really matches, so I try and make things work together tonally or by style.

What’s your favourite item in your khoollection? 

My whippet Isla – does she count?

We’re itching to buy a plane ticket –  inspire us with your most incredible holiday memory?

One of my best holidays in the last few years has to be a road trip that my boyfriend and I took down the coast of California. We flew into San Francisco and rented a Mustang – oh the cliché!  Everywhere we stopped was as amazing as the next – from Big Sur to the vineyards near Santa Barbara, Venice Beach to Palms Springs, and Joshua Tree to Yosemite.

One of my all-time favourite holiday destinations though has to be the Île de Ré. As a total oyster fanatic, it couldn’t suit me more. I would spend most of the day cycling between oyster shacks, then guzzling wine and swimming from one of the white sand beaches.

Favourite corner of the internet?

I love The Modern House. Technically it’s an estate agency, but it showcases a curated selection of design-conscious homes with architectural merit, whether it’s a small flat in the Barbican centre or a £2 million warehouse conversion in Brixton.

Setting up shot

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Can you imagine a world without Internet? 

Fortunately I still can, but I definitely need to spend less time on it, as we all should. My parents live in the deep depths of Dorset where the internet is patchy at best – so this gives me a pretty good idea of what life could be without it (mostly walks along the coastline and lots of wine!).

Frankie’s new book The New Art of Cooking: A Modern Guide to Preparing and Styling Delicious Food is out now.

Follow Frankie on Instagram and Twitter.

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Try Frankie’s recipe for Griddled Pineapple with Hibiscus Sugar and Mascarpone

Get Frankie’s modern food styling and entertaining tips

Win a copy of Frankie’s new book The New Art of Cooking

Find out Frankie’s favourite spots around London

Featured image by Kristin Perers