Chef and culinary artist Stephan Baity is perfectly fine if you want to take a photo of his food before eating.
In fact, he takes it as a point of pride.
“If someone doesn’t want to take a picture of the food and show it to others or post it on social media, I haven’t done my job,” Baity said.
Baity’s official job is director of culinary campus services at Wofford College, but his fine attention to detailed food presentation and artistic plating have landed him a wider audience over the years.
His work speaks for itself. Mangos carved like flower blossoms. Cheese plates arranged like flowing waterfalls. Melons with faces rising from the rind.
“I always tell people to be careful and deliberate about what you post on social media,” Baity said. “If you’re consistent with your style and honing your skills, you can build a virtual resume, and people will start to take notice.”
In Baity’s case, it was the Food Network that took notice. Now with two appearances on the channel already under his belt — once in 2013 and again in 2015 — Baity is making his third round on national television as a part of the reality competition show “Halloween Wars.”
The show involves six teams made up of an expert pumpkin carver, a cake artist and a sugar master battling it out over five episodes to create the scariest, most delicious and most awe-inspiring Halloween-themed edible displays, for a chance to take home a grand prize of $50,000.
As the expert pumpkin carver on his team, Baity said he hopes others take the chance this Halloween to venture outside their artistic comfort zone when carving pumpkins with friends or family.
“I would advise people to try avoiding tradition,” he said. “No one says a jack-o’-lantern has to have two eyes and a mouth. Why not one eye and a crooked smile? Why not something totally out of the box?”
He suggests trying new things, even if it means adding pieces and parts that aren’t edible, like a Mister Potato Head — only with a pumpkin.
“Experiment with different lighting, smoke, strobes, dry ice,” Baity said. “All these different things you can do to enhance your carving that doesn’t require skill or talent, but is just about having fun.”
As for what his jack-o’-lanterns will look like this year, Baity said he’ll try to keep pushing and experimenting himself.
“Just when you think it can’t get any crazier, that’s when the real cool stuff emerges,” he said.
You can watch Baity on “Halloween Wars” on Food Network this Sunday Sept. 20 at 9 p.m.