Food Styling Shortlist – a Tribute to Greatness


To mark our special tenth year, we wanted to explore what Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year means to some of our entrants. This April 1st,  Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year announced its 2021 shortlist. Once again, the standard of entries has not only displayed incredible technical prowess but the most evocative and powerful storytelling.


The global competition continues to help connect us and offer an exclusive insight into the universal language of food culture.


We invited Food Stylist, Taryne Jakobi to the blog to share with us her story. Taryne, who entered the competition as a tribute to iconic chef Dorah Sitole, who sadly passed away this year, had two portfolios shortlisted in our Food Stylist category.



Taryne, how did it feel to have two of your Stylist Portfolios shortlisted in Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year2021?

‘I was honestly blown away! 

When I opened the mail, on my phone, I did not have my reading glasses on, so I skimmed the mail and thought it was just a confirmation of the images I had submitted. Then a little later I thought, let me go read that email again because I recall seeing something about shortlisted.

I was so delighted when I re-read the email, with my glasses on this time (and on a larger screen)!

Image my delight at being shortlisted in the world’s premier food photography competition, with talented creatives from around the world. Not just one, but two portfolios! I am still amazed, and genuinely humbled.

I entered because I wanted to pay tribute to my friend Dorah Sitole, who pasted away in December from Covid. Half of the images I had entered were styled for her recipe book which we completed last year during lockdown. Working on her book was one of the greatest privileges of my life, and, that these images are now being recognised by the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year community is deeply, deeply touching!’









We introduced our Food Stylist Category a few years ago, why is it so important to highlight the work of Food Stylists in Food Photography?

‘Thank you for introducing the food stylist category. Food styling has had a weird association in the past with 70’s and 80’s food commercials that involved nonedible stuffs sprayed, brushed, or lacquered on the food. Food styling is so much more than this! I am pleased to say it is slowly gaining respect as an important part of food photography, and the hard-working stylists who put in so much effort behind the scenes to execute a final product for photography are getting recognised for there talent, creativity, and hard work.’ 



Tell us a little bit about your background in Food Styling?

‘I have a background in catering management, which I studied many years ago. I have always loved cooking, but the presentation part of displaying a completed dish was my favourite, and cliched as it sounds, I had a flip file of beautiful images I collected.

I poured over Martha Stewart's first book Entertaining, later collected her magazines, and became a devotee of Donna Hay. As you can tell my heart was in editorial food styling.

I was first approached by South Africa's top food magazine at the time, Food and Home Entertaining to freelance for them, including a monthly feature. This was 20 years ago (eeeck) and from there I moved into commercial styling for print and TVC, working with agencies and production companies, and publication houses for recipe books. So, it’s almost as if my career has come full circle from falling in love with Martha Stewarts books, to now styling for South African authors.’


What or who is your biggest inspiration?

‘In 2004 I was introduced to Dorah Sitole by photographer Vanessa Lewis. In 2008 Dorah asked me to style the sequel to her book Cooking from Cape to Cairo. I was so honoured! Dorah was at the time the editor of True Love magazine, and the book was a collection of her recipes from her travels through the African continent when she was food editor of True Love magazine.

Recognised nationally as the first black food writer she had a massive and loyal following. I was very honoured that she trusted me to style her recipes, food that was very different from what I had grown up eating, and clearly revealed the differences in the backgrounds of the people I was working with. It was an absolute revelation for me!

Food editor Tumi Sebopa took me to Alexandra township to buy Umleqwa (Zulu Farm Chicken) and Mala Mogodu. An absolute eye opener for a white girl from the suburbs. It has since become a passion of mine, styling African foods. I relish the challenge of working with notoriously unappealing colours such as brown food and being authentic in the presentation of the food whilst still making it look appetising for the camera.

The Umleque is one of the images shortlisted in the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year, and the image that for me most represents my journey as a food stylist. Working with Dorah over the past 15 years was not only inspiring, but very humbling. Styling her last book Dorah Sitole 40 years of Iconic Food is the greatest privilege of my life. I was a young, inexperienced but passionate food stylist and Dorah believed in me, trusting me to style African foods, it has been both rewarding and inspiring, especially now to see those images shortlisted in Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year.’













Tell us a little bit about your shortlisted portfolios...What made you enter Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2021?

‘I entered the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year on a whim, at the very last minute. Literally. I really wanted an opportunity to honour the memory of Dorah Sitole. I choose 5 images from the book along with another 5 of my personal work.

 It bears repeating that I am both delighted and humbled to have been selected for not one but 2 portfolios!  I am really proud of the images selected, they show a variety of food styling skills, and are a good balance of client and personal work, and most importantly I get to share Dorah Sitoles story with a wider audience and highlight the significant role she played in our industry.

Thank you Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year for the incredible honour, and the opportunity to honour Dorah memory.’


Want to see more of Taryne’s work?





The winners will be announced on April 27 2021 at 20:00 (UTC) in an exciting global event on the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year YouTube channel. The Awards Film, hosted by a very special celebrity Master of Ceremonies, will be shown live across the world, allowing everyone to enjoy the show from the comfort of their own homes.


Join us to celebrate the hard work, creativity, and dedication of every entrant!

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