Being a Food Stylist: The Art of Food Presentation

Being a food stylist

While most folks interested in the Culinary Arts choose to work in the kitchen as chefs, there are a few others that are interested in the more unusual culinary careers that are out there. One of those is being a Food Stylist.

What Does a Food Stylist Do?

Food stylists combine culinary art and science to prepare food for cookbook and advertising photographs, television commercials, and scenes in movies. Stylists are responsible for finding unusual ingredients and preparing food so it looks freshly made and appetizing. A culinary school degree is a must for a food stylist, as the job requires extensive knowledge of how food acts, both aesthetically and scientifically.

Tricks of the Trade

Stylists know that looks are more important than taste during a photo shoot, and they use culinary tricks to make food the star of the show. For instance, they might substitute heavy cream for milk when photographing cereal (heavy cream looks much more appetizing). By adding aspirin powder to champagne, stylists create extra fizz. Talcum powder sprinkled over charcoal simulates ash.

There are other tricks too—applying lipstick on strawberries to deepen their redness, using hair dryers to cook a slice of turkey, or using shortening mixed with sugar to simulate ice cream. With the advent of digital photography, the Food Stylist’s job has gotten much easier. No longer does the stylist need to worry about such details as the food sitting under the hot lights for hours and hours—photos are now taken and assessed much more quickly.

Tools of the Trade

Being a food stylist is a fascinating and challenging job. Each Food Stylist has their favorite tools of the trade, whether they are a good set of shaping knives, needle-nose tweezers, Q-tips, or various things from art supply stores. But it’s not all about fooling the cameras! Food Stylists also get to experiment with new recipes when they are helping do the photographs for a new cookbook, and they get to create the new and interesting foods that restaurant chains such as McDonald’s launch.

But being a food stylist requires always being at the top of your game, and food doesn’t always behave. A Food Stylist is only as good as the last photo or commercial, so it requires an individual that is detail-oriented, organized, and focused.

Job Training & Education

A good food stylist starts out with a solid culinary education, and spends several years working as a traditional chef before working in the field. The best way to break in to the market is to work as an assistant to a well-established stylist, and then branch out into having your own clients. Food Stylists can earn anywhere from $450 to $850 a day once they are established.

Being a Food Stylist is an excellent way to combine artistic vision with culinary skills. If this sounds like you, enroll in Culinary School and get your career underway today!

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