For the first time, woman&home reveals what happens behind the scenes on our Christmas food shoots, which take place over a week in the summer.
Getting ready for Christmas is the busiest time of the year for the food team, as food director Jane Curran and the team plan, test and develop a whole new set of recipes to help make your Christmas feast the best ever.
It might be some of the hottest days of the year, but in the studio the ovens are on and the hobs are burning – there’s a turkey roasting, all the trimmings and some impressive Christmas baking, including chocolate work.
There’s a lot to get through, as the food team develops brand new recipes for the December issue and a special Christmas food supplement alongside the magazine.
Preparing for Christmas issue is a long process that actually starts in July, when the food industry reveals what it is planning for December in a series of press shows across London. The food team races around town for a few weeks, then comes together to talk about new trends and ideas – not just thinking about what will be in the shops at Christmas, but what we’ve tried in new restaurants, spotted on social media and what’s most Googled.
Brand new recipes are developed in the test kitchen, then the shoot is booked, with a photographer and prop stylist, who creates the ‘set’ for each recipe and styles the look and feel of the images. All the recipes are food styled by the woman&home food team – in other words, they cook the food on the day exactly as they did when developing the recipes. There is no cheating!
This year, the recipe highlights include a savoury cheesecake that will take cheese and biscuits to new level and the ultimate chocolate roulade, which you can find in the December issue.
It’s hard work, but we hope you like what we’ve created and will recreate some of these recipes for your own Christmas.
“If you think it’s all glamorous shooting Christmas issues, you’ll see us here in Kentish Town, shooting woman&home’s Christmas issue,” says Jane. “I’ve been photographing Christmas issues in magazines for 25 years. My Christmas happens three times a year, testing and developing until the real one actual one in December. It’s always a challenge to get something really new and really exciting.”
That’s A LOT of Christmases.
“Just so you know, it’s not cheating – and we did eat the turkey afterwards,” Jane adds. “We roasted it just as we say in the magazine.”
So what are Jane’s tips for cooking at Christmas? “My top tips are to make a list, make a plan,” says Jane. “Use our Christmas time plan and be organised.
“Those blue gloves that you buy from the chemist are fantastic when you’re cooking and making squidgy stuff like stuffings, so you don’t get your hands greasy. They’re a real Godsend.”
And if there’s one thing you should make from our Christmas recipe collection this year? “Chocolate roulade is an absolute must make this year,” says Jane. “With lots of glitter.”