Julie Anne Rhodes in Elle magazine July 1990
I’ve worked with a lot of stylists in my time, but none quite like Denise Vivaldo, food stylist extraordinaire and probably the most knowledgeable person I know about every aspect of the food industry having cooked for two American presidents, Prince Charles, and at least half of Hollywood. She has catered the Academy Awards Governor’s Ball, taught at UCLA’s Culinary Program and still conducts seminars and workshops worldwide, plus Denise has styled food for countless television shows, books, and magazines. Her fifth book, The Entertaining Encyclopedia is due out October 1st (You can pre-order on Amazon.com now.) It is an absolute ‘must have’ for anyone wanting to know how to pull every aspect of the perfect party together.
With the holiday season looming, I decided to bribe Denise with lunch last week to get a sneak peek. With 200 recipes, and 25 menu plans too choose from…even the novice hostess will impress her guests. The book covers everything, from choosing a theme and location, to invitations and how to keep your guests entertained. Believe me, Denise is nothing if not entertaining.
Cindie Flannigan and Denise Vivaldo teaching Food Styling Master Class

I assisted her during one of her Master Food Styling Classes here in Los Angeles last year, and came home with a tummy aching from laughing at her high octane acerbic wit. She dished up a lot more than just food!
Denise and me in Charleston, SC last October

If you are an avid foodie, have an interest in food styling, or in simply having a great time…I highly recommend Denise’s workshops. Check out Food Fanatics for details on the next one near you. I might just see you there! Or check out Denise and Cindie in action on ABC . In the meantime, here is the wickedly delicious recipe Denise shared with me from The Entertaining Encyclopedia.
The Entertaining Encyclopedia’s Pear Bread Pudding
Serves: 6 or can be multiplied up to 4 times

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground cinnamon
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup (250 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (50 ml) butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 pound (500g) firm ripe pears, peeled and chopped
  • 1 loaf Italian bread, crusts removed, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces (about 4 cups)
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) caramel sauce, warmed

1). Grease a 13 x9-inch, preferably glass or ceramic casserole baking dish, generously with butter.

2). In a large bowl, using an electric mixer,beat flour, sugar, cinnamon, eggs, cream, butter, almond extract and vanilla until well combined. Fold in pears and bread.

3). Pour into prepared baking dish, cover loosely with foil and let stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 F (160 C).

4). Bake, covered, in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for about 15 minutes or until top is golden brown.

5). Scoop into dessert dishes and drizzle with caramel sauce.

  • Italian-style loaf bread works best for this recipe. A standard sandwich bread doesn’t have enough backbone to hold up during baking.
  • Make a double batch of this recipe, baking in a lasagna or roasting pan baking dish and increase baking time to 55 to 60 minutes. If you need more servings, make double batches and rotate baking dishes in the oven partway through to ensure even baking.
Easy Extras:
  • Garnish each serving wit a few raspberries or sliced almonds.
  • Stir in 1 cup (250 ml) semisweet chocolate chips when adding the pears.
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  • August 31, 2009
    12:58 am

    Sounds great Julie Anne.I will definately have to order The Entertaining Encyclopedia through Amazon soon. This Aussie Mom certainly loves her food and cooking for friends.I just wish I was in the States to take some of those workshops with Denise. Happy Cooking!Aussie Mom, Melbourne, Australia

  • August 31, 2009
    1:33 am

    Hi Aussie Mom…keep an eye out for Denise. She does a lot of workshops overseas…I know she did one in Thailand recently. She is soooooooooo much fun to learn from. In the meantime her books are a great place to start.

  • May 1, 2010
    10:36 pm

    Loved your blog!!!