Lish Steiling: Great Food Tattoos

Interview

I love how everyone shows their love for food in different ways. For some, it's being a food blogger, for some, a professional chef. For Lish Steiling, a professional food stylist for TODAY, she shows love for food in tattoos. 

Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lish has already had an illustrious culinary career, and now is in a dream job: styling for NBC's TODAY. As a stylist, she preps and cooks food that will be on air in the segments.

So, you've got these great food-related tattoos. Can you talk a little about them?

I was thinking of getting another tattoo, and I was thinking about what would fit on the back of my arm. I thought a fork and spoon would fit perfectly. Then, with the next tattoo, I chose a radish. One of my favorite snacks is radishes with butter and sea salt.

How is the food different in Wisconsin?

Michael Symon was on the show, and he said that the Midwest is the original farm-to-table, it's only now just going to the coast. The Midwest is all about the farmers and using local ingredients. But of course, the food is heartier and the portions are larger.

How did you start out in food?

I started out at 15, bussing at a restaurant in Milwaukee as a way to make money. It was a chain restaurant with a wood-burning oven in the middle of the restaurant. After a while, the chef said that I should come and learn the station. I thought, "If it mean's I don't have to fill another ketchup bottle, I'm in!" So I trained with him for a few months.  Then he left, and I was left to train the new guys on the station.  Most of them were 40-year-old men, I was 16!

I loved the thrill of it, the rush, and getting to see people's reactions and making people happy. Eventually I went to the Culinary Institute of America.

Afterwards, I intended on going to Germany. But when I got there, it was in the middle of nowhere, and I only had 2 years of high school German. They spoke a very different dialect, and in the end, I returned to Wisconsin.

That is how I met my mentor, Jan Kelly. I worked with her for 4 years until I moved to New York.

You have an awesome job, how did you get to your job now, at TODAY?

When I got to New York City, I worked at Vento and then Blue Water Grill as a sous chef. I got the number of a person from Food Network, and started freelancing there. I also worked with Paul Grimes at Gourmet, and on some cookbooks, and then got hooked up with Bianca Henry, the Director of Culinary Productions at TODAY, which is how I got to where I am now.

Do you have a food styling tip for our readers?

Just let the food be what it is, don't try to force it into something it's not. Food is a natural thing, and it's naturally beautiful. Don't fuss too much!

What's next for you tattoo-wise?

I think a carrot and a ramp. I haven't found an image I like yet. As Maggie Ruggiero said, "Hey, if the crudite fits!"

Photo Credit: Lindsay Hunt