Today on Foodie Friday, meet Alyssa Smith, a food lover who writes about food for Skidmore Studio in Detroit. Alyssa writes about food but, like many of us, wears several hats. She is also a budding stylist ready to jump in when her company needs photos taken. Skidmore is a strategic creative studio for consumer goods, which includes branding and packaging for food and beverage companies.
How did you first get involved in the food industry?
My first food project happened to be brand strategy for a new organics line called Inspired Organics—then I was lucky enough to write copy for all 200+ SKUs.
What/who inspired your current role in the food industry?
I’m very easily swayed by good design and copy in the grocery store, so it has always been a dream to work on some kind of food or beverage packaging.
If you had one message for people who don’t live and breathe food like we do, what would that message be?
I don’t understand you, but I wish I did because my wallet would appreciate the break.
What food trends are most influential in what you do?
I try not to get too caught up in trends because they’re only going to last so long. However, I do appreciate how certain food trends and food tribes bring new kinds of knowledge front and center. It’s always good for people to understand their options when it comes to food.
What's your big splurge food item? Any particular brand you're willing to pay more for?
Cereal. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some white label products doing it as good as the brand names out there, but Kellogg’s has pretty much perfected the Frosted Flakes and no one can top General Mills’ Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
What keeps you motivated as a food professional?
Food keeps me motivated both physically AND mentally. And food packaging is such a fun, challenging space. Fighting with space constraints, consumer wants, brand voice, product requirements, FDA guidelines, and whatever other challenges that inevitably pop up is part of what makes my job so fun.
What do you view as your greatest achievement to-date as a food professional?
I was lucky enough to work on a beer can, and the designer I worked with took a little random line of copy I wrote and blew it up so the whole can was text—that was very unexpected for me and completely nerve-wracking. The client ended up liking it so much they used it as their brand manifesto and painted it on a wall in their taproom.
What’s your favorite food to make at home?
Cacio e Pepe! It sounds fancy but it’s easy to make and I always have the ingredients in my fridge. You just cook some pasta noodles, reserve some of the liquid, and toss the noodles with butter, that starchy water, tons of Pecorino or Parmesan (or both), and fresh-cracked black pepper until it all melts down into a smooth sauce. It’s my absolute go-to after I’ve gotten home from traveling.
What’s your favorite meal to order in a restaurant?
I try to order things I can’t make at home as easily. So I’ll go for anything with unusual produce or something that requires a lot of time and technique. Or French fries. I can’t say no to French fries.
Who in the food industry do you most admire? Why?
Anthony Bourdain had the most incredible view of the food world—he was just as good a chef as he was a writer. You could tell just how passionate he was about food and how much he wanted people to enjoy it with him.
What food or meal makes you happiest? Why?
I love croissants! They tick all my boxes: It’s a buttery carb, chocolate can be integrated, they’re common enough to get anywhere, and it’s something I can’t make easily at home. I can eat a truly unhealthy amount of croissants in one sitting.
Tell us about food or ingredient would you never use or eat.
I despise Jell-O -- I can’t eat it. It’s too smooth and the flavors don’t taste like fruit.
What cookbooks or cooking classes are most important to you? Why?
Take a knife skills class! It’s the easiest way to improve as a home cook or just not hurt yourself. Sure, it’ll make you want to spend thousands of dollars on knives, but think of how much better of a chopper and dicer you’ll be.
Tell us about your favorite vacation destination.
I’m planning a trip to Japan in the next few years—mostly for the food. I can’t wait to be slurping ramen in some alleyway diner at midnight, or attempting to flip my own okonomiyaki in Hiroshima, and of course eating fresh-caught sushi at any time of day.
Website: Skidmore Studio
Instagram: Skidmore Studio
Facebook: Skidmore Studio
LinkedIn: Skidmore Studio