About Jo

The Short Story

  • Freelancing on food styling work for magazines, packaging & advertising and TV commercials.
  • Food Editor NZ Women’s Weekly for 2 years
  • Packaging photoshoots and TV to food styling work
  • Change in focus to styling after selling pasta shop and deli
  • Set up and ran gourmet pasta shop and deli for 2 years
  • Fathers Day’s 1997 First NZ House & Garden shoot (continued 14 years)
  • Started Food styling
  • Owned petite gourmet cake & dessert shop
  • Age 24 moved to Auckland
  • Age 21 launched my first restaurant
  • Went on my OE working as a personal chef and nanny internationally
  • Studied professional cookery at Waikato
  • Age 15 work experience in a renowned restaurant
  • Worked in the bakery at Waihi Beach café

Photos of Jo Wilcox

The Long Story

I have had a love of food my whole life, lucky for me my mum allowed me to play in the kitchen from the very beginning –from sitting up on the bench watch her peeling peaches for preserving or planning dinner parties from her many Womans Weekly Cookbooks.

I started my career in food at an early age working in a bakery at my local beach café, then was lucky enough to be given a week’s work experience at a well renowned restaurant in Hamilton at the age of 15 it was there that I realised food was for me – not just eating it but making it beautiful too!

I then went on to study Professional cookery at Waikato and amazingly ended up as head chef of that original work experience restaurant. I was then presented with an incredible overseas experience of becoming a personal chef and Nanny …this took me all over the world and I enjoyed many fine dining and food market experiences.

Home again at 21 and keen to do my own thing I launched head first into my first restaurant – it was a steep but priceless learning curve, but luckily I had the amazing support of my family and home town. I loved to cook and present my food in a beautiful way and enjoyed running my own kitchen. – After 3 1/2 memorable years it was time to leave for the big smoke of Auckland.

I then went on to own a petite gourmet cake & dessert shop – yes the amazing desserts and pretty presentation of French and European food had worn off on me. This was another journey on a different level, one that taught me to be precise and gentle when handling food especially baking.

It was while running the dessert shop that I first entered the world of food styling – and I decided that working for NZ House & garden and there beautiful glossy pages was the ultimate place to start. My first ever NZ H& G photo shoot was father’s Day 1997 I then continued to be in the entertaining section in nearly every issue for the next 14 years.

Onto a gourmet pasta shop and deli for the next 2 years while I continued to work as a food stylist for NZ H & G. It was after the sale of the shop I realised I wanted to focus all my foodie love on styling – it was clear to me that was my strong point, don’t get me wrong I love to create recipes varying from rich and intense to subtle and gentle on the palate. But making them look delicious was absolutely my thing.

While enjoying work on pretty photo shoots I started to get work from designers for packaging photoshoots and TV. This is what I call my tweezers and scalpel work – designing and producing food to a strict brief, often taking many hours to create one burger or construct a muesli bar.

I enjoyed the challenging role of being Food Editor of NZ Womans Weekly for two years until they decided to close their test kitchen after kitchen after 50 years. This was a fast moving, serious food role where I created 5 or more recipes weekly. I aimed to provide great meal solutions that were interesting and approachable, and of course gorgeous foodie phots that made you want to cook them. I loved the feedback and the knowledge that people actually cooked them and had great results. If I could give someone a love of cooking and enjoying family meal times and gatherings then my job was done!

I now enjoy a varied roll working with a number of wonderful clients doing food styling work. Currently it includes work for magazines, TV commercials, packaging and advertising. This work presents different challenges every day from having to have up to 14 recipes ready to present simultaneously, to working in outdoor makeshift kitchens, to flying to Queenstown to do photo shoots in vintage barns. If you want a bit more of a peak into my latest work you can check out my blog and instagram.

Somehow between all the food, recipes, travel and dirty aprons, I have managed to acquire a loving and patient husband of 16 years and two adorable and delightful daughters.