My mom and my Grandma Laudig get top credit for shaping my attitudes about food, but Brian Preston-Campbell probably deserves the bronze medal.
I've known the guy since I was a high schooler and he was a C.I.A. student. He introduced me to pho, tasting menus, smoked mozzarella, and expensive coffee. We both landed in New York City at the same time, and while he slaved in the kitchens of some of some famous chefs, he'd occasionally muse on his dream career: food stylist.
Of course, I'd never really considered the role of a food stylist before that, but after hearing Brian talk about all the crazy things food stylists do to make food images look absolutely mouthwatering, I never took such things for granted anymore.
And yes, Brian did become a food stylist. That drool-worthy layer cake on the cover of Bon Appetit a couple months ago? Those perfectly stacked pancakes on the Hungry Jack box in your cupboard? All his handiwork.
As part of the job, he's styled a number of cookbooks for other authors, but now he's finally published his own brand-new title: Cool Waters: 50 Refreshing, Healthy, Homemade Thirst Quenchers.
The idea behind the book is to spare yourself the expense, the artificial ingredients, and the sugar overload that comes with many store-bought beverages. Instead, you can mix up exotic concoctions like mango-ginger "beer," pressed watermelon with basil, or Thai red plum fizz. Or try the Japanese-y drink called Mizo o Kudasai (which must've reminded Brian of my early attempts to learn Japanese) -- it combines fresh shiso, ginger, and yuzu juice.
Staying hydrated in this parched city is always a challenge, so I'm as excited about the recipes as I am about my friend's publishing debut.