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Hollywood food stylist and local restaurant owner Jack White visits Florence Middle School

Jack White speaking to students

FLORENCE, Ala. — You may know him as the owner of downtown Florence restaurant Jack's Place Bistro. Still, before his career as a restaurateur, Jack White's culinary creations could be seen in more than 100 feature films and television shows, including The Hunger Games, Mad Men, and Thor.

White found his passion as a food stylist while working in the film industry in Los Angeles; he said most of what he learned came from experience on the job. He graduated from the University of North Alabama with a broadcasting degree before the university offered a culinary degree.

White spent his Monday afternoon at Florence Middle School speaking to the seventh-grade class and showing them a slideshow of his food styling work on The Hunger Games franchise. The students finished reading the first book in their English classes weeks prior, followed by a viewing of the 2012 hit film. White had creative control over what appeared to be eaten in the film, from suckling pigs to burnt bread and squirrel-on-a-stick.

Jack White speaking to students

The class met White with cheers and applause after his presentation; it was a reaction that brought joy to seventh-grade English teacher Kathleen Meza, as it's her hope as an educator to see students passionate about learning.

Jack White

"It's no secret that not everyone likes to read, so it made me feel great that they love the book," Meza said. "I've had students say the book was better than the movie, which every English teacher wants to hear. And then seeing someone who actually works on it and then getting that behind-the-scenes just really excited them."

Meza said the students have been so excited they are already asking when they can read the second book.

By Jeremy Jackson
October 11, 2023