How to recreate the magic of Instagram’s most popular vegan food stylist?

Do you want to start your morning on a fresh, colourful and healthy note? Head over to Ami Shoesmith’s Instagram account @The_Sunkissed_Kitchen. I stumbled into this gorgeous feed quite by chance as I was researching on benefits of edible flowers. Lavender, blue, pink and purple smoothie bowls bursting with petals and fruits, the colours and textures balanced like a work of art. I was spellbound! If this is not food for an artist’s soul, I don’t know what is.

Although they look artificially bright, Ami explained that she only uses natural colouring. A firm believer of clean eating, she is very strict with what she eats so aims to keep the bowls as natural and healthy as possible, with no added nasties.

And here’s how it started…

breakfast bowls. edible flowers, the sunkissed kitchen, ami shoesmith, lavenderoom, lavender room, aparna gupta, aparrna gupta

This Sydney-based self-taught food stylist has amassed thousands of followers on Instagram and turned her passion into a glorious profession thanks to her vivid and colourful breakfast creations. Shoesmith loved pretty food and making fruit art, and through her creations wanted to inspire people to eat more fruits and veggies. “My sister actually peer pressured me into starting an Instagram account, and nudged me to start posting photos of the food I made. It took about three years of nagging before I actually did it though,” she laughs. “I realised it was something bigger than I imagined it could be, once magazines started contacting me wanting to use my photos.”

breakfast bowls. edible flowers, the sunkissed kitchen, ami shoesmith, lavenderoom, lavender room, aparna gupta, aparrna gupta

How Instagram helped her turn her passion into profession?

And here’s the behind the scenes, for all who think, Instagram influencers have it easy, just posting pictures.

When she started out, Shoesmith worked 50 hours a week in security. She would wake up early every day before work, to fit her gorgeous creations into her schedule. She mentioned in a press interview that she got up at 5.30 every day to prep what she is going to do, chop up fruits that isn’t going to oxidise and then plate at about 6.30 and shoot at 6.50. ‘Because that is when the best light is at the moment, then I would run out the door and go to work,’ she stated.

“It definitely started as a hobby, and grew so much that I could no longer juggle my full time job in addition to the food styling, so I decided to quit and be a full time food stylist!” Today Shoesmith has people asking her to cater their events and brands queuing up with food styling assignments. And in between she also does sponsored posts for which she gets paid anything between $600 AUD to $1,000 AUD.

However, there are very few brands that she actually promotes as she is clear that she won’t promote anything that she wouldn’t go out and buy. ‘I’ll have people wanting me to put in products that have sugar or something in it, which I don’t eat.’

Pro tips to recreate her breakfast plate…

breakfast bowls. edible flowers, the sunkissed kitchen, ami shoesmith, lavenderoom, lavender room, aparna gupta, aparrna gupta
An array of fresh produce containing the following: Rocket, Cucuamelons, Purple radish, Watermelon radish, Coriander, Blue pea flowers, Basil cress, Yellow cherry tomatoes, Peach. Heirloom carrots, Mint, Pomegranate, Candy cane beetroot, Edible flowers,

Speaking about her tips for recreating one of her dreamy bowls, she says it’s important to buy fresh produce. “Choosing fresh seasonal produce is important, if you can get to a market in your area and buy from the grower, the produce will be much fresher and more vibrant. Try to fill your plate with as many colors as you can,” she advises.

As for what inspires each bowl, Shoesmith explained that her inspiration will come from the least expected of places. ‘Sometimes I dream about certain things and then I’ll wake up and think that it was a really good idea so I’ll plate it. It doesn’t always work out but inspiration will sometimes strike when she is doing something else so is mindful of jotting notes.

However, nature is her constant source of inspiration. “Nature inspires me, specifically the colours in produce and flowers! I love going to the farmers’ market to find beautiful fruits, vegetables and edible flowers, then work with those ingredients to create one of the most beautiful dishes I can.”

Like Shoesmith, beautify your plate with some petals…

breakfast bowls. edible flowers, the sunkissed kitchen, ami shoesmith, lavenderoom, lavender room, aparna gupta, aparrna gupta

Being flower-obsessed, I am in love with the way Shoesmith uses flowers in her breakfast plates/bowls. I wasn’t in the least surprised when she mentioned that she has been eating edible flowers since she was a toddler. “My mum said I had an edible flower book and I would insist she take me foraging! I usually chose my flowers based on the aesthetic, although some are quite bitter, so you have to be careful on what you’re combining them with!” For instance, chive blossoms are beautiful, but would ruin a sweet smoothie bowl! If you’re foraging your own, make sure you know what you’re doing, as some flowers are highly toxic!

breakfast bowls. edible flowers, the sunkissed kitchen, ami shoesmith, lavenderoom, lavender room, aparna gupta, aparrna gupta

The ease with which petals blend in, I wondered if it is common in Australian households to garnish food with edible flowers.  “Not really, edible flowers here can be quite hard to find and expensive. I grow and forage a lot of my own.”

Some flowers and which make food more interesting? “I love cornflowers, pansies, liliac, Chive blossoms, Dahlia petals, roses, elderflowers, borage, calendula, marigolds.”

 Colorful food hacks: From the expert herself

  • For the noodles I boil up some red cabbage and cook the noodles in it. Once I pull them out, they’re blue and you add lemon juice or anything acidic it turns them bright pink.

  • Keeping it simple is the easiest way to start out and don’t think too much about it, I don’t, I just do whatever pops into my head and stop when I like it.

  • Just be creative and don’t worry too much about rules and eventually you’ll get the hang of it.

  • Getting little stars helps, if you cut your fruit into cute little shapes it makes it look cute no matter what and use a nice bowl as well

  • I think all edible flowers make food more interesting, the pop or colour with the unique flavours definitely get people’s attention. Try cornflowers, pansies, liliac, Chive blossoms, Dahlia petals, roses, elderflowers, borage, calendula, marigolds!

Make your own coloured oatmeal bowl …

breakfast bowls. edible flowers, the sunkissed kitchen, ami shoesmith, lavenderoom, lavender room, aparna gupta, aparrna gupta

Ami-styled Oatmeal (serves 3)

1 cup oats

3 cups water

Cook in saucepan until thick and Creamy.

Topped with:

3 tbsp Coconut yoghurt

1/2 tsp Beetroot powder

1/2 tsp Blue Majik powder

(mix together and adjust until you get a purple shade you’re happy with)

If you can’t get the powders, you could blend blueberries with coconut yoghurt for a purple hue.

Top with fresh cut apple, frozen raspberries and blueberries, edible flowers (I used white rose, Crysanthemum and begonia)

Best tip for food bloggers:

Be authentic and true to yourself. In the start I thought I had to be like everyone else and make bowls that looked a certain way. But, once I did my own thing and let my creativity flow, that’s when it really started to take off!

breakfast bowls. edible flowers, the sunkissed kitchen, ami shoesmith, lavenderoom, lavender room, aparna gupta, aparrna gupta

Author

  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

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