Food and Photography Just the Right Mix for Tri-C Alumna
Christine Rice grew up in a small Northeast Ohio farming community, cultivating her love of food and photography through the local 4-H Club.
Encouraged by her father, Rice decided to enroll at Ohio University to study commercial photography. But she was unsure how to get her career off the ground after earning her degree.
“No one told me how challenging the job market would be,” she said.
After graduation, Rice and her sister moved to Vail, Colorado. Rice honed her photography skills while working as a barista and a front desk manager for a spa.
“After a year and a half, I took a look at my life and realized I wasn’t progressing. That’s when I moved back to Ohio to start my career.”
While Rice never planned to end up in Cleveland, that’s where her journey took her. “I interned with photographer Jeff Sciortino in Chicago during my college years, so that is was where I originally intended to go,” she said.
After six months back in Ohio, a friend offered Rice an interview at Kalman & Pabst Photo Group.
“I started assisting there and at a few other studios in Cleveland, and I eventually started working with a food stylist,” she said. “I loved photography, but the allure of cooking and styling the food took over. It took only a few weeks for me to figure out that I wanted to step out from behind the camera and into the kitchen.”
The food stylists Rice worked with urged her to go to culinary school to learn the science behind the food. But she still had student loans to pay, so a major culinary institute was out of the question.
Instead, Rice chose to enroll in the Hospitality Management program at Tri-C. She studied culinary arts and restaurant management while pursuing her new occupation as a food stylist and photographer.
“I finally realize this is exactly what I want to do, and I want to learn everything I possibly can,” she said. “The professors and chefs at Tri-C have real experience and have contacts all over the city. They will work hard for you if you work hard for them.”
After graduating in fall 2016, Rice worked as a food stylist for JACK Cleveland, Vitamix, Ohio Magazine, Cleveland Magazine and Quaker Steak & Lube. In early 2018, she accepted a job with Hestan Cue in Napa, California, where she works alongside Bocuse d’Or Silver Medalist Philip Tessier.
“Tri-C changed my life,” Rice said. “Working as a photo assistant was fun, but working with food has truly engaged me. It is challenging and has driven me to take the next step in my life.
“I finally have a real 10-year plan. I know what I am working toward and have taken the steps to get there.”