TRUFFL member, Maria Nguyen is a devoted artist committed the beauty of food. As the founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Art of Plating, Maria sees more than just taste in food, she sees the complexity that sight can bring to an eating experience. TRUFFL sits down with Maria as she lends insight into her passion and hopefully helps improve your Instagram food photos in the process.
TRUFFL: Please introduce yourself.
Maria: I’m founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Art of Plating, a project devoted to gastronomy as a form of high art. Focused on the process and artistry involved in creating modern haute cuisine, we invite some of today’s most brilliant culinary innovators to share their vision, their inspiration, passion, emotions, and life stories.
TRUFFL: How did you come up with the concept behind your latest endeavor, The Art of Plating?
Maria: I started The Art of Plating because I was inspired by my own attempts at cooking and plating food. As a creative with a love for art, the most fulfilling aspect about cooking – aside from eating, of course – is plating. I just felt like there wasn't any outlets solely focused on plating food and most of the existing outlets weren't executed in way that was intriguing or inspiring.
TRUFFL: When did you first see food or the plating of food as a medium of art?
Maria: It was definitely as I was exploring the realm of cooking and plating food. It's the whole process of creating something from scratch, composing and arranging elements onto a ceramic canvas to make something visually appetizing. Whether good or bad, art is supposed to evoke emotions and create unexpected reactions. I think food does that.
TRUFFL: Do you ever come across a dish you find too beautiful to eat? What do you do?
Maria: All the time but I love eating so that's never a problem! Unless it's extremely breathtaking, I'm not one of those people who has to take a picture of every dish that comes out of the kitchen.
TRUFFL: What is your long-term vision for The Art of Plating?
Maria: My long-term vision for The Art of Plating is to continue building a brand that cultivates interactivity, discovery, and innovation. Without giving too much away, I really see us creating curated experiences outside of the digital space.
TRUFFL: You went from being an Art Director at ZehnerGroup to Editor-in-Chief at The Art of Plating, what drove you to make this change in your career?
Maria: Aside from my strong belief and passion for The Art of Plating, what drove me to make this change in my career is seeing other people resonate with it. I love seeing other people's excitement for the project and that inspires me to work harder to make it a reality. It's truly the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning and the last thing on my mind when I go to sleep.
Not to mention, ZehnerGroup is an amazing agency that gave me the opportunity to be involved in so many different projects with immensely talented people. All the experience and skills I gained there gave me the confidence I needed to make the jump.
TRUFFL: How has a designer or art director’s role changed over the past few years?
Maria: I think those roles are important now more than ever and are now necessities in any business. We're living in the digital age where people are extremely visual and if you want an edge over your competitors, you have to have thought provoking visuals and beautiful aesthetics.
TRUFFL: Why does quality over quantity mean so much to you when it comes to your work?
Maria: Even though the saying is so cliché, quality over quantity is just one of those things I always refer to when it comes to design or just life in general. Your work is able to shine when it isn't clouded by mediocre.
TRUFFL: Word on the street is that you are also a talent in the kitchen; please tell us about some recent things you have cooked for friends, family and yourself?
Maria: Haha, all the contributing chefs on The Art of Plating put me to shame! I recently made this ricotta egg ravioli with sage brown butter. It was such a pain to make the pasta dough but so good!
TRUFFL: What piece of advice would you give someone attempting to turn their passion or hobby into a viable job?
Maria: Be bold and be passionate. There's going to be some days where things get tough, friends and family who might not understand what you're doing, a whole lot of criticism, and working late nights into the early mornings. You really have to love what you're doing to get you through those days.
TRUFFL: What’s next for you; what are your immediate goals?
Maria: My next immediate goal is to launch our online magazine, continue building a talented team, and to travel the world.
TRUFFL: Where are some of your favorite places to dine in Los Angeles?
Maria: I'm always trying new places but some of my go-to’s are Patina, Melisse, Cut, and Osteria Mozza. Also, one of my more recent favorites is Bestia – just really tasteful food.
TRUFFL: What inspires you about TRUFFL and its mission?
Maria: To me, LA is such a hard place to meet people and even harder to meet like-minded people who are creative, passionate, and enjoy living well. I really like the fact that TRUFFL makes it easier while providing intimate and personalized experiences. It doesn’t get any better than that!