Thanksgiving with Matt Armendariz & Adam Pearson

Thanksgiving is all about sharing food with friends & family, so it felt natural to invite Matt & Adam to share their favourite recipes with us this year. We've asked them a few questions to introduce you to them.

Matt Armendariz is a commercial photographer with a background in graphic design, art, and creative direction. The author of two cookbooks, Matt has over 30 years of experience in the food industry and has contributed to more than 35 cookbook titles. He currently serves as a committee member for the book awards at the James Beard Foundation.

Adam Pearson is a Culinary Director, food and prop stylist, as well as a recipe developer stylist with over 15 years of experience styling for numerous ad campaigns, editorials, advertising projects, and commercials. Adam provides creative consultation to several brands in all things culinary and believes that his hands are his most valuable assets in his toolkit.

Here, they share 7 recipes covering ALL the elements of a perfect meal, from the traditional turkey centrepiece, scrumptious sides and delectable dessert.


Can you tell us about how you got into food styling and photography?
We were both working in the food world (Matt was an art and creative director for a specialty retailer) and Adam was enrolled in a culinary school. After years of art directing photoshoots, it just felt like a natural progression to pick up a camera and do it ourselves. Lots of trial and error, lots of assisting food stylists, and many years later we are absolutely loving what we do.

What have been some of your favourite projects?
There’s always something to find interesting and challenging in each project, but we’d both have to say photographing cookbooks is an absolute joy and one of our most favorite types of projects. It’s fascinating and rewarding to work with an author and find ways to translate their vision into a visual recipe on a printed page in a book. There’s a pace and timeline that’s a wee bit more fluid than say a giant advertising shoot, and the team is also given a great deal of independence. You’re not selling an actual product but a recipe and a feeling, and it’s always so creatively rewarding.

How did you discover Mud Australia?
We both remember it distinctly! We would peruse the pages of various Australian magazines and see the most gorgeous bowls and plates and then learned it was all Mud Australia. We did our best to get our grubby little hands on anything we could, which wasn’t always easy back in the day! Along the way we learned we had mutual friends with Shelley, and it was a trip to the first New York City store right after opening that the love affair was cemented in stone. To know we have our very own Los Angeles store helps us sleep better at night.

What are your favourite Mud Australia pieces and why?
Oh goodness, this might be impossible to answer. We cherish every shape, size and color, and find that the scale is often the missing puzzle piece in a food photo.

Matt: The Mud Australia Salad Plate along with the Dinner Plate is a case study in perfection: shape, proportion, look…it is as ideal as it gets! They will always be in use at our home and in studio. Forever and ever.

Adam: At home we eat everything out of the Medium Pebble Bowl! It just feels good in your hands.

What was the inspiration behind the shoot and development of the recipes?
With about 15 years of photographing Thanksgiving (it's always 5 to 6 every year), we’ve seen it all. In our case, we wanted to put a twist on classic thanksgiving ingredients, like the Chai Pumpkin Pie or using a fall ingredient like permissions in a way that would inspire people to think outside of the box. Of course it’s still a very traditional American thanksgiving and people don’t like you messing with it too much; we tweaked enough to keep it interesting.

What Mud Australia pieces would you recommend as a staple for preparing and serving a Thanksgiving meal?
Adam: Going forward I think my holiday gift to everyone is going to be the Mud Pie Dish. It’s so utterly chic, beautiful, and it will accommodate any traditional pie recipe you have.

Matt: You can’t go wrong with the Paris Platter. It highlights the main star of the show with ample room to garnish, and it does double duty for cheeseboards any other time of the year.

When it comes to Thanksgiving, what are your top tips for styling a festive table?
For us here in California we go outside and harvest olive branches, persimmon and pomegranate branches, and various citrus branches to bring a bit of nature to the table. We love how it compliments the organic shapes and lines of Mud Australia. One doesn’t always need a table full of floral arrangements to make a beautiful table!