Expert Interview Series: Sam Linsell of Drizzle and Dip on Creating Eye-Catching Dishes

Eye-catching dishes

Sam Linsell is a Cape Town, South Africa- based cookbook author, food stylist, photographer and creator of, where she shares her favorite recipes and mouthwatering food photography. We recently checked in with Sam about how she approaches making delicious and eye-catching dishes. Here’s what she had to say:

How did you become so passionate about food?

I have been passionate about food for as long as I can remember. Literally my whole life.

Who inspires you in the kitchen?

I’m seriously inspired by chefs and follow many to see their delicious creations

How do you use cooking and baking to express yourself or as an outlet for your creativity?

I cook and bake because I love to eat, so I use that as a starting point. Once I know what flavors I crave I cook and bake things to satisfy that. I’m also fascinated with new products and techniques, so I go through phases where I will cook with a particular ingredient for a while or experiment with a new way of doing things.

What role do aesthetics play in creating great dishes?

I’m a food stylist so what the food looks like is of paramount importance. If I’m just cooking for myself I’m less concerned about it, but when I cook for others, or for photography, the food needs to be good looking.

How do you approach making dishes beautiful (or making beautiful dishes)?

I imagine what the food will look like either raw or cooked and then try and capture it in the best possible way. I will think about what sort of props will make the food pop and what colors would work well with it and plan around that. I tend to stick to a controlled and neutral color palette because I want to the food to be the hero.

What’s one of your favorite dishes to prepare right now?

I’m focusing on eating vegetables in new and exciting ways and I love making cerviche.

Can you tell us a little about the cuisine in South Africa. What are your favorite dishes?

South African cuisine is a melting pot of many cultures, so it’s impossible to pinpoint one particular style. It’s a country with 11 official languages so along with that comes multiple cultures that influence our cooking. I love the dishes that have their roots in Malay culture like samosas and bobotie and the delectable sweet koeksisters which are from Dutch origins. We cure and dry-age beef and the result is “biltong” – similar to beef jerky only better.

How does South Africa inspire your cooking?

My cooking is always ingredient driven but I don’t stick to one particular culture in my cooking style and draw influence from all over the world. The internet is my natural habitat, so there are no borders.

What’s one kitchen tool you can’t live without?

Oh dear I hate this question because there are quite a few. Good spatulas and an offset spatula are very important in baking and a good set of very sharp knives makes the job a whole lot easier.

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