The New York Times
When the director Nora Ephron began shooting a pivotal scene in her new movie “Julie & Julia,” it quickly became clear that the sole meunière might become her food stylist’s Waterloo. Julia Child’s first lunch in France centered on Dover sole sputtering in butter sauce. It was, she wrote in her memoir, “the most exciting meal of my life.” For that scene, Ms. Ephron — an accomplished cook who wrote the screenplay, directed the film and personally tested every recipe in the movie except the aspic — would accept nothing short of perfection. “I wanted that sole to look to the audience the way it had looked to Julia when it caused her famous epiphany,” she said. But hey, no pressure. Susan Spungen, the movie’s food stylist, had spent a dozen years as Martha Stewart’s food editor. She had been a caterer before that. She understood pressure. But she knew she was in the weeds the moment she arrived at a Manhattan restaurant to shoot the scene.
Susan Spungen has had many careers: restaurant cook and caterer, Martha Stewart’s culinary right hand for a dozen years, food stylist (for T Magazine and others). In recent years, she’s brought the meals in the top food movies to life, from the duck en croute for “Julie & Julia” (even Jacques Pépin approved) to the plot-advancing croissants in “It’s Complicated” and now the Roman feasts in “Eat Pray Love,” which opens today. The Moment caught up with Spungen over a cappuccino at Bluebird Coffee to find out how she kept her pasta from outshining Julia Roberts, and to get her tips for dining in Rome.
After finding success as a magazine food editor and cookbook author, Susan Spungen has shifted her focus from page to screen, where she’s been the food stylist for films like Julie & Julia, It’s Complicated, and this summer’s Eat, Pray, Love, based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling food memoir. Here, she shares the secrets to getting food ready for its close-up.
Susan Spungen is like the Richard Jenkins of food styling. Not many people know her but you know her work. She was the lady that made the food look good in ‘Julie & Julia’, ‘It’s Complicated’ (though a well-cooked turkey couldn’t save the film) and, most recently, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ (which I liked) I recently spoke to Spungen in a hotel lobby in Santiago, Chile.
Hollywood’s premier food stylist, Susan Spungen, was the food coordinator for movie greats like Julie & Julia and It’s Complicated. She recently attended a luncheon to discuss her latest experiences working on the set of this year’s movie, Eat Pray Love, based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s New York Times bestseller book.