Donna Noble joined Mongoose Productionsin1974,a Jamaican film production company of which she is a Director with her husband Paul, producing commercials and documentaries for the Caribbean market. In 1985 they were working on a production that required the food be styled for camera. Food styling was not a career that was well known then however, with Erin McLarty, her assistant for the last 30 years, she styled their first food commercial which showed an animated character, ‘Mr. Cheese’ as he took the viewer on a journey, over live action food, sliding down cheese straws and hopping from one dish to another.
The commercial was for Dairy Industries, shot on16mm film, and included filming the rise of a soufflé through the glass door of an oven. Challenging to say the least, however she fell in love with the world of food styling and since then has styled countless film & video commercials and images for print working extensively with many clients in Jamaica’s food industry and with photographers Franz Marzouca, Jeremy Francis, Peter Ferguson, Ken Reid, Ray Chen and recently with her daughter Robyn on Robin Lim Lumsden’s newly launched, Belcour Cookbook.
Donna explains that Food styling, the preparation of food for camera, and the art of making it look beautiful and as natural as possible is meticulous, demanding work. It is about teamwork as photographers or filmmakers and stylists work together to ensure that each image captures the essence of the subject and the direction of the client. Whether it is a simple food product such as a bottle of beverage, shot in a studio, or a full picnic spread set in the middle of a field requiring carloads of props, kit, and food to be unpacked and set up as quickly as possible, the interplay between light and technology, props and people must work together cohesively to create an image of truth well told.
Apart from handling productions for Mongoose, and working a food and prop stylist, is also a Set Decorator on feature films and commercials, and operates Woodford Market Garden, an organic farm in the Blue Mountains. Woodford specializes in growing salad green and herbs and was the first Jamaican company to offer packaged salads 20 years ago. Their specially selected hand-picked packages of Super Greens Salad Blend is a well-loved product on the supermarket shelves, sought after by salad lovers, and chefs and Donna make sure that their packages not only offer a consistently delicious and nutritious mix of salad greens, but her special attention to styling makes sure they are beautifully presented as well because as she says, we eat with our eyes long before we actually taste the food. She likes to think that their salad greens revolutionized Jamaica’s salad bowl, and her goal is to continue to encourage Jamaicans to easily incorporate nutrient-rich greens into their diet Woodford Market is currently collaborating with Belcour Preserves, producing an all-natural range of Salad dressings and Spice Rubs under the Mountain Blue Farms brand which is now available in stores.
Having styled a number of cookbooks including Enid’s Donaldson’s The Real Taste of Jamaica many years ago, she is currently working on a book of her own ‘Organically Inspired’ recipes, many of which have already been styled by her and photographed by her daughter Robyn, before the recipes were down on paper, the cart before the horse perhaps however, the latter is being perfected in between projects, finally merging her three passions, Film, food and farming into one delicious project.