Food and Art Intersect in Billy Green's Neon-Colored Kitchen

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All photos courtesy of Wit & Vinegar

Wit & Vinegar blogger Billy Green’s childhood was spent awash in a sea of casserole and meat loaf, the standbys of his middle class California upbringing. It was the mid ‘90s, and national food culture had yet to blossom into its current, vibrant form. But even then, Green, Yahoo Food’s blogger of the week, knew that he craved something more.

“I really loved food, and I took a cooking class when I was in middle school,” Green told Yahoo Food. Before long, he was watching Food Network every day after school, which quickly inspired him to venture into the kitchen. By Green’s senior year of high school, he’d developed a handful of original recipes — enough for a modest cookbook, which he bound himself.

“There was this one thing called Key lime pie, but it was not Key lime pie,” Green said with a chuckle. He still cringes at the memory: “It was basically just, like, Jell-O and cottage cheese blended together. And you just put it in a pre-made graham cracker crust.”

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Al pastor chicken skewers.

Green’s palate has changed — or as Green sees it, improved — considerably since then. In college, he studied photography and graphic design, but cooked for roommates in his off-time, copying dishes from episodes of Barefoot Contessa. Things finally came to a head in 2010.

“I was unemployed and going to school, but I had more free time than I thought I was going to have,” Green recalled. “Everyday was spent going to school, coming home, and then it was an hour and a half of Sabrina the Teenage Witch reruns and then Barefoot Contessa for another hour. I was like, 'I need a hobby!’ So I started this food blog.”

Green, who lives in Orange County, Calif., named the site Wit & Vinegar, using it as a platform to combine his two great loves: food and art.

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Peach rosé quick jam.

“It’s easy, not-boring food,” Green says of his cooking style. Think familiar dishes, but with a twist, like fluffy ricotta-infused waffles, marigold-hued al pastor chicken skewers, and burnt marshmallow pudding popsicles.

His plating and presentation, however, is completely over the top. Green’s photos are filled to the brim with vibrant shades of neon, and he loves to bathe dishes in bright, fluorescent light. Green also has a tendency toward off-kilter compositions, not to mention offbeat patterns and textures. And he certainly doesn’t shy away from whimsy: Consider his Nutella-spiked brownie tart, stenciled in powdered sugar with the image of manicured fingers.

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Nutella brownie tart.

“I use artificial lighting for everything — it lets me shoot whenever I want, but also gives the effect that I’m looking for,” Green said, adding that photographing his dishes against a colorful background reinforces the Warholian aesthetic he’s going for.

“I’m just having fun with it and not being so serious,” Green said. “I think a lot of time people take food too seriously.”

These days, Green has more than 10,000 followers across his various social media platforms and juggles the blog with school — he hopes to earn his degree soon. But Green has still found the time to author a cookbook, Whip It Up!, which hit shelves in October.

“I’d like to do another book, but I need to let this one cool off for a couple of minutes,” Green said. “And then I don’t know what the future brings. It’s one of those things … Things happen so fast nowadays. I’m just kind of working you know? Doing the blog, freelancing, and just trying to have fun with all of it.”

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