A Q&A WITH
AUTHOR OF REEL CUISINE
Q: What came first, your interest in movies or your interest in food?
Iijima: My interest in food came first – then I became involved in movies.
Q: How did you learn to cook?
Iijima: My mother was a chef, and I helped her out ever since I was a kid. I also took nutrition and cooking classes.
Q: What led you to become a food stylist?
Iijima: I wanted to work with food, but to have each day bring something new. I thought food styling would be a very fun job.
Q: In addition to your culinary talents, what other skills are necessary to be successful in your profession?
Iijima: It's important to listen very carefully and to adapt to the client's requests quickly, to respond creatively, and to have patience.
Q: Of all the movies you’ve worked on, what was the most challenging for you? Why?
Iijima: "Villon's Wife." The time period was right after WWII, and it was difficult to find tableware, etc. that was true to the era.
Q: From your experiences working on films, are there one or two take-away lessons you can share?
Iijima: If you want food to look tasty, steam is incredibly important. Using dark settings or tableware will help the steam stand out.
Q: Have you had any on-set disasters or near-disasters you can tell us about?
Iijima: I once gave a left-handed actress tools that were meant for right-handed people.
Q. How was shooting the stills for the book different from filming the scenes in the actual films?
Iijima: In the studio, I can work at my own pace, whereas on a film shoot there are far more people involved on set.
Q: In addition to preparing the food itself for a movie, what other elements are necessary for creating an effective cinematic food scene?
Iijima: Getting my hands on whatever tableware or cutlery was used in the scene.
Q: What’s your favorite meal to prepare for your own family and friends?
Iijima: Hand-roll sushi. It's a simple dish that's pliant to new ideas, and I have a lot of fun making it in the kitchen.