In these times of social distancing, social media has lit a fire to our collective imagination with presentations of food preparation, food styling and recipe sharing. Advances in cell phone and digital technologies allow us to glimpse the perfectly-puffed sourdough boulé, made, of-course, with a starter recipe that likely was used when our grandmothers were baking in retro wall ovens.
Food porn, as some like to call it, is all around us. It’s immediately gratifying, visually arresting and speaks to an intimate comfort we all need to feel better about the chaos in the world around us.
It’s also linked to a burgeoning business sector where social influencers can reap big benefits with product alignment and endorsements.
For Kalya Ellis, of Kayla Camera Eats, however, it was just a happenstance occurrence at the start of the virus lockdown that allowed her to expand and hone a hobby that has since become a full time job.
“I’m a food (stock) photographer, shooting all around Central Florida including every restaurant and business at Disney [that serves or carries food products],” she said.
What’s Old is New...Again
Her knowledge of how to pair and style foods inspired her to start creating charcuterie boards for close friends and family. A typical charcuterie board features a curated selection, usually, of meats, cheeses, olives or pickles, perhaps some grapes or berries and a selection of bread or crackers to accompany.
After posting images to her Instagram feed, and reading through the positive comments and feedback, Kayla sold her first board to a book club organizer who wanted to offer something special to her guests.
Business took off from there, in the midst of office closures and new, homebound work routines.
“It’s been a bit crazy,” Kayla said, “But I decided I can make time for this. It’s fun and different and, with everyone locked in, it’s something new and fresh, as well.”
In an average week, she’ll compose four to eight boards—all customizable to client’s preferences and with as diverse a presentation as the imagination can muster. From birthdays to holidays, or baby showers to graduations, Kayla will work with clients to create and deliver a vision board of sorts full of edibles that can be enjoyed and shared!
Board Business Expands
With the help of her husband Sean, a Controls Engineer with SDI Systems in Melbourne, the company website (www.kaylacameraeats.com) launched in mid-May showcasing the boards, which are called grazing boards, in all their colorful splendor.
Kayla, who is Food Safety Certified, presents the boards with packaging to preserve the integrity of the ingredients, and relies on seasonal produce to keep them relevant and fresh. She manages her business around caring for her two toddlers, Tucker and Emmitt, while also juggling photo assignments and managing her social media accounts.
Board costs start at $30 and can run as high as $229, depending on the amount of people served, selection of items and board choice. Custom boards cost a little more, but also help support another local business, Cedar Hollow Woodworks in Cocoa Beach, and make a stunning gift or keepsake.
Feedback and client requests have enabled Kayla to design specialty boards that can, for example, accommodate dietary restrictions or needs (vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, Keto) or locations such as grazing boards for boats, beach or picnics.
“The boards are totally customizable, and the thrill for me is figuring out how to give a client exactly what they need in the most appealing presentation.”