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Panel Preview: Dan Macey Blends Food Styling and Food History

A re-creation of the wedding feast as described by Jane Austen in "Lesley Castle," JASNA 2020. (Courtesy of Dan Macey)

JASP 2022 speaker Dan Macey is not your typical food stylist. His interest in food presentation includes Regency-era traditions, and he is passionate about preserving food history. As a stylist, he makes food look its very best for the camera and stresses that presentation is as important today as it was during Jane Austen’s time.

Before beginning his career as a food stylist, Macey was a journalist covering Capitol Hill and energy issues. But he knew what his true passion was, so he left journalism to write about food, “I worked with the editor of Cook's Illustrated Magazine, and she wrote a cookbook that she wanted to sell on the QVC shopping network," Macey says. "She asked me to prepare 12 recipes from the book to show on television on multiple occasions." After that, Macey was hired to create the food for QVC presentations by chefs such as Emeril Lagasse and Lidia Bastianich. From there, Macey's career flourished, and he has appeared on several television projects, TV commercials, and even billboards.

Eventually his job collided with Jane Austen. “My husband is a true Janeite and I love to learn about period foodways, so our interests were a perfect match,” says Macey. An enthusiastic life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA), Macey recently created videos explaining a variety of food topics in Jane Austen’s work for JASNA's 2020 annual general meeting. Additionally, he was nominated for a national food writing award for penning a piece about mutton in Emma.

Macey is also the president of the Historic Foodways Society of the Delaware Valley in Philadelphia, which has been educating the public about culinary history for more than 25 years. He has presented an array of food history programs and demonstrations, including the re-creation of an authentic Regency banquet to benefit the Chawton House Library. Macey believes that studying culinary foodways is important. "It's a great way to learn about the variety of culture and regions around the world and see what links us all as one people -- since we have to feed our families," he says.

Macey hosting a period dinner. (Courtesy of Dan Macey)

Another way Macey has expanded his knowledge on culinary practices is through traveling. “Travel, especially for culinary experiences, has been a great link to meeting people and learning about different cultures and ways of life," says Macey. "I’ve had the experience of traveling and eating the foods of India, Morocco, Israel, and Asia. The aromas of the unique ingredients is what lingers in my memory most and beckons me back for more."

You won’t want to miss Macey’s lecture and demonstration at JASP: He will explore Austen’s and Shakespeare’s culinary DNA. A live food demonstration at JASP is an extra special treat! “First, you will get to taste foods popular in both Shakespeare’s and Austen’s time,” Macey says. "I will also show that despite the time difference of 200 years, foods and recipes enjoyed by both literary geniuses would have been familiar to both.”

In the gallery: Macey with chef Rocco DiSpirito, a TV commercial featuring Macey's food styling business Dantasticfood, and styling of a cake. (Photos courtesy of Dan Macey)

Macey is scheduled to give his plenary address Saturday, June 18, at 2:30 p.m. Registration is now open for the Jane Austen Summer Program: Austen & Shakespeare. To register, CLICK HERE.


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