The Kefir Cookbook

Kefir Panna Cotta with Red Wine Syrup . Food styling: Jeffrey Larsen; Prop styling: Kelly Allen

Kefir Panna Cotta with Red Wine Syrup. Food styling: Jeffrey Larsen; Prop styling: Kelly Allen

Mysterious. Rich. Tangy. Striking.

Kefir, a tart, probiotic cultured milk that’s currently trending in foodie circles, intrigued me from the first moment I tried it. As this ancient superfood was gaining popularity and slowly attracting the broader interest of American palates, Julie Smolyansky, CEO of Lifeway Foods, chose me to help her bring her kefir recipes to life in The Kefir Cookbook. Beyond educating me on kefir, Julie inspired me with her story of building her immigrant family business into a $100 million company.

Tasting with your eyes

Like with any great cookbook project, my vision was primarily influenced by appetite appeal. I wanted the viewer’s first taste of these delicious recipes (styled by food stylist Jeffrey Larson) to be with their eyes. These images had to be evocative enough to compel the reader to take that next step and bring the recipes to life in their own kitchen. So, I used a rich, textural, color-saturated natural light and played with zinc- and charcoal-colored surfaces. The result? A collection of sexy, sultry and tempting images that told Julie’s food story.

Crafting the author’s story with details

Behind these 100 sweet and savory kefir-based recipes lies an incredibly inspiring story of how Julie took the business over from her parents and transformed it into a multimillion dollar venture. So, in directing this shoot, I worked with prop stylist X to incorporate lots of handmade props and ceramics to create a whole world of vivid details on and around the plates.  

Our goal was to present a package of images in a style inspired by that place where Anthropologie meets your favorite foodie magazine. And I’m proud to say we did just that.

I’m curious. Have you ever tried kefir, and if so, what recipe do you imagine it would complement? Tag me @jenniferdavick on Instagram.