Sydney Food Sisters
I had the opportunity to interview Caterina Sterrantino & Effi Tsoukatos of Sydney Food Sisters.
Below is the interview. If you want to know more about the Sydney Food Sisters and their services please visit their website.
Where does the story of the Sydney Food Sisters the story begin? Where did the idea come from? How do you know each other? When was the Sydney Food Sisters formed? What were you hoping to achieve?
The Sydney Food Sister concept was born while eating a plate of pappardelle and drinking wine at one of our favourite Italian restaurants, Ecco Ristorante in Drummoyne, back in 2016. It came from a pure love of great food, great wine and great friendship. The business started out with the intention to bring people together through bespoke food and wine events. Eventually however, we started sharing our recipes with our growing followers and started being approached by brands to create recipes. This side of the business took over and turned the Sydney Food Sisters into who we are today.
What were you both involved in before Sydney Food Sisters?
We both ran our own events management businesses, where we organised events for people and organisations.
What led you to decide on a career in food?
The Sydney Food Sisters was never supposed to be a full time business or a career. It really did start out as a hobby that eventually led to a career in food. It really is a wonderful thing when something evolves so naturally from a passion and interest to a career.
What drives your decisions when it comes to food choices? Ethically sourced, organic, seasonal, local?
So many things drive our food choices. First and foremost it would have to be taste! If it tastes good, we’ll eat it. If it tastes really good, we’ll eat it and make a point of telling the world about it. Seasonality is an important thing for us. Most of the recipes that we create start with a fruit or vegetable that is in season. For example, at the moment, citrus is in the peak of its season in Australia. When you visit your greengrocer or the markets, the smell and colour of citrus is overwhelming at the moment, so there is a natural instinct to want to pick it up, smell it, buy it, take it home and cook with it. The process really is that simple.
What have been some of the most interesting projects you have worked on? Has it been for a restaurant, cafe or brand?
So many! The best projects are the ones where we have creative freedom to create whatever we want with products that we have loved for a long time. Baci was a fun one this year. We have both loved Baci chocolates since we were kids, who doesn’t love opening up a chocolate and reading a little note? So to get to work with a product that you have grown up loving, and being given the creative freedom to create whatever we want with that product – that is the best kind of gig!
There has been an influx of food photographers since the introduction of Instagram, what advice would you give someone who is trying to make a living out of this? Is it possible now that social media has become so saturated?
This is a question with many answers and one that brings up so many points. Social media is a wonderful tool to use to connect with people, to display your work and to get your message out there. While we do use our Instagram page as a portfolio, and our presence on Instagram has given us the opportunity to work with many brands, the large portion of our work has little to do with social media.
There are many recipes that we create for brands and clients that never end up on our social media. And there is photography work and content creation work that our followers won’t ever see. If you do want to be a food photographer, just do it, give it a try! Learn as much as you can, do courses, attend workshops, interact with people online and in person. The world is a very large place, there is always opportunity. The world of food photography is not just about social media, there are so many ways you can be a food photographer – for brands, for restaurants, cafes, as a blogger, for magazines and publications.
Do you have any advice on how people can differentiate themselves in this space?
I think people focus too much on trying to differentiate themselves, when the focus should be on being themselves. Everyone wants to do something different thinking that it will make them stand out from the rest, which I never really understand. When you are yourself and express yourself through your work, you will always create better work.
Do you each have clear specific tasks of who does what? Is this based on what you are good at and enjoy doing the most?
Yes. Caterina is the chief recipe developer and has the final taste say. Effi is the photographer and has the final image say. Having said that, we make decisions together… most of the time! When it comes to styling we do overlap, Caterina is the queen of sourcing props, she just has a better eye for it, where as Effi is chief ‘player of props’ when styling. It does come down to what we both enjoy doing. Caterina likes baking, I like taking photos of the end product. We do argues about things, but not every day!!
Have you enlisted the help of mentors or coaches to get to where you are now? Who inspires you?
Not in an official capacity, no. That’s not to say we wouldn’t. So many people inspire us – chefs, cookbook authors, photographers, our children (yes, believe it or not the way they eat and respond to our recipes often inspires us!!)
What have been some of the challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them? Have you had difficult lessons to learn? Do you need to be constantly evolving in terms of formal training in order to stay up to date?
Yes to all those questions! There are always challenges to overcome and always lessons to learn. At the beginning, we were spreading ourselves a little too thin, working with too many people and taking on too much work, which became very draining. We have now become better at limiting the projects we work on to ones that we wholeheartedly love working on, and we have become better at valuing our work financially. We had to overcome obstacles and make mistakes to get to this point.
In terms of formal training, we are constantly attending courses and workshops when we can and have time to, but we would love to have more time to learn things, there is always so much to learn! The more you learn, the better equipped you are to perform your best!
How can people best be in touch with you?
Email us [email protected]
Find out more about recipes you can make at home here.