Chef, Food Stylist, Creative Director, and Food Content Creator, Mark Setchfield

Do you make all the food you shoot?
Yes, I make all the food you see in my digital magazines, on my website and Instagram. Sometimes I cheat; I’ll use ready-made pastry if I’m pressed for time. Otherwise, I use the restaurant’s hashtags when I’m posting images whilst out dining.

Do you eat all the food, you cook?
I get asked this all the time; the answer is no. I mostly cook at the weekends. I’m not a fan of take-outs, so I always have food throughout the week.

When do you find the time to cook?
I make time! I love cooking and find it very therapeutic. It’s expensive to get fresh ingredients, so I plan a shopping list and makes meals for the week ahead.

Did you train as a chef?
Long answer no, I taught myself how to cook. I’m always on the lookout for food inspiration.

Have you always loved cooking?
As a child, I used to cook with my grandma. I was always fascinated by her cooking skills. I still use her sponge cake recipe as the base of my cakes, like a bundt cake.

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Lemon drizzle Bundt cake

What’s your signature dish?
I have too many, people often answer the question for me. I would say mostly spicy dishes such as a West Indian curried goat or a chicken and apricot curry.

What foods do you dislike?
Easy; goat’s cheese and strawberries. I just don’t get either – horrible stuff!

What’s your favourite food?
I love Italian food; anything Mediterranean is so tasty and fresh, healthy and straight forward. I love pasta and the aroma of fresh basil leaves; I always have fresh basil at home to make fresh pesto.

Fresh pesto

Who styles and takes your pictures?
Me! I am a creative director in my day-job, so I just bring my skills home. I don’t use any showy studio lights; I just shoot on my balcony.

What tips would you give when taking pictures of food?
Keep it simple, for me, I like to shoot food as if it’s in front of me, about a 45-degree angle. Another popular trend is flat lays (overhead shots). Most smartphones have great cameras but avoid using the flash as it can make food look flat, the best light is daylight.

Beef Bacon & Pumpkin Soup

Where do you shop for food?
Living in Dubai there is so much choice, unlike in the UK, I don’t just shop in one store. I love shopping at the farmers’ markets, and in local independent stores that stock specialist ingredients from all over Asia and the Middle East.

What’s your favourite kitchen gadget?
My kitchen aid. I had wanted one for so long, so when I got a tax refund, I thought why not treat myself? If I were a DJ, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a new mixer! Plus, they look fantastic!

Finally, if you could eat only one thing, what would it be?
That’s easy, definitely any pizza, I love a spicy pepperoni pizza, hot or cold that’s my happy food.

Mixed tomato pizza

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