How to make the perfect long lunch, according to food stylists Alex and Helena


For Sydney food stylists and business partners Alexandra Heard and Helena Trahanas, life and business is all about taking your pleasure seriously.

“For us, the lines between business, food and life in general are blurry,” says Heard.

Having met early in their careers working for titles like Gourmet traveler, Vogue Travel, and Vogue Live this is where their journey in food styling began, attending shoots and work events.

After quitting publishing and pursuing careers in design and food, a mutual love for travel brought them together in 2017 to create a digital lifestyle concept and the Paddington store, ALEX AND TRAHANAS. A mecca of hand-made and painted ceramics, daring jewelry and chic, androgynous costumes, the Italian-inspired brand aims to bring the warmth of Mediterranean hospitality to the Australian coast.

As summer approaches – and bringing with it the perfect excuse to enjoy great food and great company – we caught up with the designer duo to learn about their culinary and entertaining tips, and how they perfectly photograph their video treats with the help of the new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G, available at Optus.

Here’s How To Make The Perfect Long Lunch, According To Sydney Food Stylists Heard and Trahanas.

Who or what inspires your work?

The warmth of European hospitality inspires our work. We think a lot about how people feel at the lunch or dinner table as we engage with our pieces all of which come back to those feelings evoked when you have lunch at a seaside tavern or trattoria in Europe surrounded by your favorite people.

What has been your biggest “pinch me” career moment so far?

Collaborations with incredibly talented people we admire: artist and designer Louise Olsen, Carlo, Giorgia and Alessio, founders of the Masseria Moroseta farmhouse in Puglia, Scott McComas Williams, chef at Ragazzi and Fabbrica, and our most recent collaboration with the Australian family design and furniture company Jardan. We also get a real craze for creating collections and wonderful feedback from our lovely customers.

Table setting has really grown in popularity this year, do you think this has been a side effect of foreclosure as we look to new outlets for the creative outlet?

This period of time really highlighted the opportunity to listen and create small beautiful moments in our houses, in particular when tasting or sharing a meal.

Do you have any favorite local artisans that you love to source your ingredients for?

We have a lot of these in Sydney, but a few favorites include Penny’s Cheese Shop, Fabbrica pasta, Haberfield IGA, producers at Carriageworks Farmers Markets in Eveleigh, Iggy’s Bread, Raffael’s Bakery in Haberfield, Grandiflora and Bess in Paddington.

What are your top entertainment and accommodation tips?

It’s all in the preparation. Imagining the menu, the drinks and the setting is almost as much fun as the occasion itself. Be organized so that all the preparations are made well in advance. Get your family and friends involved for extra hands! By having everything done in advance, you can be a warm, relaxed and caring host.

Besides being generous with food and wine, the best menus for entertaining don’t require a lot of extra attention when your guests are there, all you do is take things out of the oven, assemble and season salads, and more. Also consider the balance and fluidity of the menu, if your guests are too full, they are unlikely to dance later.

The table is what we live for. For us, setting the table is a form of creative meditation and also a visual gift for your guests – there are no rules. Bold table decors are all a joy to put together, we love nothing more than entertaining with our colorful hand painted Apulian ceramics.

Tell us about your creative process when it comes to creating a beautiful tabletop landscape, where to start?

Once we’ve chosen a menu, we set the table with one of our new washed linen tablecloths and matching napkins in an Italian print to anchor the space and set the scene. From there we keep our Apulian ceramics to complement the different dishes, making sure there are different heights, shapes and colors on the table and set them aside in the kitchen.

Then the table is set with a layered main plate and pasta bowl in a Mediterranean palette, classic cutlery, ceramic water jug, quality breadboard, our Ischia woven rattan bread baskets and Bitossi water glasses.

Before the guests arrive, we have salad bowls and vases filled with brightly colored fruits, vegetables and flowers, anything that catches our eye and is in season at this time. They are then moved to our beverage cart or neighboring surfaces when the table is adorned with food.

ALEX AND TRAHANAS is a lifestyle concept that extends beyond beautiful tableware and trendy ceramics to fashion and jewelry; How important is it for both of you to come up with a cohesive theme while having fun?

We believe that there shouldn’t be any rules for having fun, it’s for the love and joy of bringing people together. We like to think about the full picture of a great lunch or dinner rolling experience, from what’s on the table to what we feel confident and comfortable wearing. Rather than an overtly thematic occasion that can feel artificial and stuffy, it’s the continuous flow of pieces when combined that creates a relaxed yet beautiful setting.

Your Instagram ALEX AND TRAHANAS is a dream! Do you have any photography tips for capturing your tabletop landscapes and sharing them down to the gram?

We rely on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G for our shootings. Color is really important to our brand and the quality is truly exceptional with the Flip3.

Having the ability to shoot hands-free is really important to us because having your hands in the shots creates a lot of heat and movement around the table. When you have to shoot content on your own it can be difficult to achieve, so we can really create a lot more and achieve it with the Samsung Flex Mode hands-free option.

Image taken on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G, available from Optus

What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business or enter the world of food styling?

Take your pleasure seriously. The more you put in, the more you get out of it.

What’s the next step for both of you? Do you have some dreamy collaborations going on?

We have a lot of exciting things going on. Our new collection has just launched which we are excited to release, along with a lot of things that are bubbling up for 2022.

Capture your visual treats with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G available on Optus. With its exceptional camera quality and the ability to take hands-free photos, there are so many reasons why this is the must-have tech accessory to have in your food-style toolbox.

And the best part is, you can buy it now and pay over 12, 24, or 36 months with a device payment plan with OptusPay without any interest.

Editor’s Note: This article is sponsored by Optus and proudly endorsed by Urban List. Please support the sponsors that make Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.

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