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Unsung Heroes: Ubick styles the food for ‘Help’

Eye on the Oscars: Oscar Wrap

From Minny’s “Terrible Awful” chocolate pie to her never-burnt fried chicken, food plays a key role in “The Help.” Propmaster cum food stylist Chris Ubick relied on Southern chefs and her prop know-how to create the film’s delectable spreads.

“It’s like a dance, basically,” Ubick says. “It can take hours to set up a scene like (Celia’s dinner for Minny) … not including the cooking time, which can be days.”

Keeping the meals authentic was Ubick’s main goal. She took advice from local Greenwood, Miss., chefs, who cooked most of the food in the movie, and consulted 1960s cookbooks and magazines to come up with era-appropriate dishes.

Greenwood chef Lee Ann Flemming baked 65 versions of Minny’s chocolate pie for the film, while Ubick, who did some of the cooking, used her mother’s fried chicken recipe for one of the film’s many batches of the breaded delicacy.

Though the average prop doesn’t induce a mouthwatering sensation quite like the spiral hams and okra in “The Help,” Ubick says she didn’t treat the food props any differently.

“It’s exactly the same way I look at all the other props in the movie. It’s, ‘Whose is it? Where did it come from? What use is it to them?’ We want to make it a part of their character, always.”

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