LA-based chef and food stylistJanuary 05, 2021
Forget everything you know about rainbow-colored doughs unless it has to do with the whimsical creations of Australian born, LA-based chef and food stylist Sandy Ho. Sandy’s magical dumplings come to life through the natural hues of food scraps and the vibrant flavors of local, sustainably grown produce she finds in her neighborhood farmer’s markets. As someone with a truly unique culinary perspective, infusing playfulness and delight into each food creation, we sat down with Sandy to get to know her a little better, grab some tips on food styling at home, and discover all her favorite food spots in LA.
NBRHD: You make such playfully kaleidoscopic food! What inspired the “rainbow” marbled dumplings and cookies? And how do you make those colors?
SH: “I have always loved color, the joy it brings, and the way I’m able to fully express every and any emotion I’m holding. The initial inspiration was just that, finding new ways to connect with people from afar with food I could deliver. I had so many leftover food scraps from CSA boxes – beets, carrots, spinach, purple cabbage. I decided to juice them and use the colored water for dumpling dough. I posted a photo, turned my home kitchen into a dumpling factory, and the rest is history!”
NBRHD: What are your favorite edible flowers and tips for styling with them?
SH: “Micro marigolds are my favorite! They boast a beautiful citrus scent and come in vibrant varieties of oranges, burgundies, and yellows. I tend to love them whole tucked into peaks of whipped cream on a cake but also pluck the petals off to sprinkle on to a dish to add pops of brightness.”
NBRHD: As winter is nearly upon us now, what are your favorite seasonal ingredients?
SH: “Anything at the farmers market right now! Even during the winter, California markets are still as colorful as ever! Lately, I’ve been gravitating to cabbage which I love to slowly char and roast and mushrooms.”
NBRHD: Sweet or salty?
NBRHD: For delivery food, do you have any tips on plating?
SH: “White plates or wooden boards are a great way to elevate delivery food! If you have fresh herbs in your fridge, add it!”
NBRHD: What’s your favorite outside ingredient to add when you order-in?
SH: “Fish sauce.”
NBRHD: What are your styling tips to make delivery look pretty for the ‘gram?
SH: “Doesn’t matter if the plating is messy, it’s all about the VIBE. Set yourself up with some fun napkins, a colorful drink, silverware – keep it mismatched but in a similar color story. I love photos of a lived-in table – it shows you’re really enjoying the food – so dig in, don’t worry about a sauce splatter on the table or crumbs on the plate, all of this will give your photos life and texture! Close-up shots of the food can be incredibly artistic so go for that if you don’t want to set up your whole table, otherwise, nothing beats a birds-eye shot of your entire tablescape.”
Five of Sandy’s go-to spots in LA, depending what on she’s in the mood for.
Night + Market – “Their ’sauces’ are great but if you’re asking for a place to get ’sauce’ this is also the spot. Pre-covid, my friends and I would go here for spicy Thai food and natural wine, need I say more?”
Woon Kitchen – “Beef Noodles with extra chili sauce! This family restaurant is one of my favorites, everything is made with an insane amount of love from family recipes. The noodles are hand-rolled and they are super chewy and bouncy, perfect for the beef stir fry and sauce that it’s tossed in.”
Any Farmer’s market in California – “I’m very lucky to live across the road from Venice Farmers Market and will always support farmers first. My fridge is always stocked with crisp lettuce and seasonal vegetables that I’ll tear up and shave into a big mixing bowl. With produce so tasty I’ll only dress with Meyer lemon juice + zest, fresh herbs (dill is favorite in salads), Californian olive oil, and flakey salt.”
The Win~Dow at American Beauty – “The $4 burger is a must – the absolute best, juicy crispy smash burger on the west side + don’t sleep on the fries + all the sauce.”
Something that’s good for leftovers:
Gjusta – “This is a staple Venice spot for me and I love getting their whole chicken with the spice rub. It comes with yogurt sauce, chimichurri, AND harissa sauce. My ideal go-to for next-day sandwiches and salads. Of course, their flatbreads are also a favorite for heating up the next day too!”