Photographer, food stylist, mother, incredible woman, writer, and author of the well-known blog “PRATOS E TRAVESSAS” (Plates and Platters), today our interview is with Monica Pinto.
Monica, we know you were born among plates, platters, aromas and cooking, but when exactly did your passion for cooking begin?


MP – This passion has always been within me, dormant, waiting to blossom. That moment occurred during my adolescence. That’s when I really began to cook and try, for the first time, recipes that I had never tasted before, and discover foods from other places. It was a time of much experimentation and delicious discoveries.


We have read in your blog that it was your grandmother who taught you “without even the need for words, that there are many ways to express love, and that cooking is a pathway to the heart”
This is incredibly beautiful. Your grandmother, without knowing it, played a fundamental role throughout your life.
Would you like to tell us a little more about this?


MP –  My grandmother was my teacher. She cooked in a very traditional way and everything she made was very good. She was a constant presence as I grew up, and I would see her preparing meals for the family. When I was around eight years old, she began to gradually delegate small tasks in the kitchen to me and that’s when I started learning. And even though she passed away a few years ago, the affection, the aromas and the flavors are still here with me.


And photography? Would you consider it one hobby combined with another hobby? One pleasure combined with another pleasure?


MP – The truth is that this is exactly what ended up happening. Even before reaching the palate, food begins to seduce the eyes. It is beautiful, appetizing and the best way to convey this beauty is through food styling and, of course, photography. It’s natural that these two pleasures would eventually “marry”.


Monica, you are also self-taught. Did you ever imagine that this could be a career? Your career?


MP –  Right now, and looking back at how far I have traveled to get here, it makes complete sense. In some way the situations dictated this path, but a decade ago if you told me that one day I would be photographing and styling food, I probably would have been intrigued, I wouldn’t exactly be surprised, but definitely intrigued.
When and how did you realize that your BLOG could lead to other things? For example, when did you realize that doing what you enjoyed could be a profession? It must have been an unforgettable moment, right?


MP – I realized this when I began to be contacted by foreign magazines and image banks, and it was great, first because I really like what I do, and also for the recognition, obviously. It’s great to do what I enjoy. In fact, being as I am, I couldn’t ever work on something just because, without meaning or feeling. There has to be something more. It has to be genuine.


We recently read a phrase that said “food is full of good things.” This must certainly be a point of view that you share too.


MP – Good things are intrinsic to good food. I would say that “food is a good thing”, period.


And, how did your connection with overandback come about?


MP – A few years ago I was contacted by overandback in order to start creating images for their packaging. We tried out a few projects that went very well and that’s how our partnership began. It has been very rewarding.
Do you think that our partnership has helped you in any way?


MP – No doubt! As I hope my work has also helped define your creative personality through food styling and photography. My path is also paved with the projects and the people with whom I cross paths. There is always something more that goes beyond what is merely “professional”.
Monica … we share many tastes and passions, which is probably why our relationship is so, so special! The love of cooking, of food, of beautiful accessories, and of course we cannot leave out the love of “bits and pieces”. This quest for beautiful accessories is as addictive as it is delectable. We find beautiful things in every nook and corner, be they dishcloths, rolling pins, cake pans, or whisks … and anywhere is a good place to find something special. In stores, street fairs, grand dad’s cellar. You must also feel this for sure! How do you choose the ideal accessories for each photo? Do you carefully analyze every detail, or as things evolve do you know intuitively what elements will work best in the photo?


MP – It’s an obsession, isn’t it? I always start by thinking about the accessories while I’m cooking. When I start shooting I already have an idea of what I intend to do, but i get that this is a variation on a theme and work in progress. Until the first click everything can change. It is a process. And it also has a lot to do with creative intuition and a strong aesthetic sensibility.


And your book? It was certainly a new path … was it part of your plans?


MP – It was an idea that came about gradually, in a large part from the emails I was receiving from my blog readers over the past few years. Until a certain point when I thought it might actually be a very interesting and rewarding project, and then yes, I started the whole book creation process. Now that it has been released into the world, I can only say that it was very worthwhile. I am very happy with how it all turned out.
And you are already thinking about your next book?


MP- Yes, that is true, but for now all that exists is an idea. There is still a long way to go!


Just out of curiosity … have you ever considered the possibility of participating in any of these programs like Master Chef, or something?


MP Honestly no. The kitchen only makes sense to me in the context of family and friends.


Who are your main references in terms of food styling worldwide??


MP Deb Kaloper; Glen Proebstel; Sally Parker, among others.


And chefs? Who are your favorites?


MP – I admire Chef Helio Loureiro for his love of Portuguese cuisine and the poetic tradition that his recipes exude. He is a person with an enviable culinary culture.
And, as my preference is always for rustic home cooking, I like to follow the work of British Chef Jamie Oliver who manages to convey so much warmth through his own recipes. Confort food can change your life.