Food stylist dishes on her Hollywood subjects

05:00 AM, Jan 27, 2014

Meryl Streep as Julia Child in a scene from, 'Julie & Julia.' Jonathan Wenk, Columbia Pictures/


Written By by Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY

Food stylist Susan Spungen didn’t just fall off the peach truck to oversee the delicious screen creations for Labor Day, including the pie in a pivotal scene.

The founding editorial director at Martha Stewart Living has worked with, and even trained, some of Hollywood’s greatest actors in various film projects:

Amy Adams in Julie & Julia (2009)

Adams played a blogger cooking every recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.So the actress spent much of her screen time in the kitchen. “She wasn’t that experienced, but was comfortable cooking, and picked it up quickly,” says Spungen.

To assist, Spungen went through each of the script’s recipes at a pre-filming culinary boot camp. This included everything from boning a duck (“that was her most challenging task”) to picking up a live lobster.

My advice there: Pick them up from the back and know they cannot hurt you since their claws have rubber bands on them,” says Spungen.

Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia and It’s Complicated (2009)

Naturally, Streep was already on her A-game, even when playing cooking legend Julia Child.

I think I only showed her a couple of things,” says Spungen. “One of them was flipping an omelette. We did it right before the scene in our back kitchen. She pretty much mastered it immediately.”

The same could be said of Streep playing a pastry chef in It’s Complicated.

She picks anything up quickly, and she cooks at home,” says Spungen. “Croissants, naturally.”

Josh Brolin in Labor Day (opens wide Friday)

The actor had the advantage of working with both Spungen and the book’s author, Joyce Maynard, to hone his pie-making skills. And he worked up a number of creations even while away from the set.

I don’t know what his previous skills were, but he picked up pie-making quickly,” says Spungen.