10 Fun Facts about Food Stylists

Food stylists are the visual maestros behind the enticing and mouth-watering images of food we see in advertisements, cookbooks, and menus. These creative professionals go beyond the realms of culinary expertise, utilizing their artistic skills to meticulously arrange and enhance food to create visually stunning compositions. The goal is not only to make the food look appetizing but also to evoke emotions and tell a story through the visual presentation. Food stylists collaborate closely with photographers, art directors, and clients to ensure that the final images align with the desired aesthetic and branding.

The art of food styling involves a deep understanding of the camera’s perspective, lighting, and the science of how different foods behave visually. From strategically placing individual sesame seeds on a bun to using hidden supports to keep towering dishes stable, food stylists employ various techniques to achieve the perfect shot. It’s a delicate balance between authenticity and enhancement, where the goal is to present food in its most appealing and aspirational form while remaining true to its essence.

While the primary focus of food stylists is on the visual aspect, their work often extends to collaborating with chefs, recipe developers, and even kitchen equipment manufacturers. They may be involved in the creation of cookbooks, where the presentation of each dish is a crucial element, or they might contribute to the design of product packaging, ensuring that the images accurately represent the product and entice consumers. In essence, food stylists play a pivotal role in shaping our perception of food, turning everyday ingredients into visual masterpieces that ignite our culinary imagination.

Food styling
Food styling

What about food stylists’ fun facts? Let’s take a look at these 10 fun facts about food stylists.

  1. Substituting for Perfection: Food stylists often use unconventional substitutes to create the perfect shot. For example, instead of ice cream, they might use mashed potatoes, which hold up better under hot lights and long photoshoots.
  2. Hidden Tricks for Steam: Achieving that enticing steam rising from a hot dish in a photoshoot isn’t as simple as capturing the real thing. Food stylists often use hidden devices like tampons soaked in hot water to create the illusion of steam.
  3. Motor Oil for Shine: To give fruits and vegetables that fresh and dewy appearance in photos, food stylists might lightly brush them with a mixture of water and a small amount of food-grade glycerin or even use a touch of motor oil for a shiny effect.
  4. Gluing Sesame Seeds: When individual sesame seeds refuse to stay put on a bun or bagel, food stylists may use a tiny amount of clear corn syrup as glue to ensure a perfectly arranged and photogenic display.
  5. Perfectly Imperfect: Achieving the ideal “just out of the oven” look for baked goods involves a meticulous balance. Food stylists may strategically undercook cookies or muffins to maintain that appealing softness and gooeyness.
  6. The Art of Cheese Pull: That captivating stretch of melted cheese in pizza commercials is often a result of carefully arranged dental floss or even hidden skewers to create the perfect cheese pull effect.
  7. Color Enhancement: Food stylists might use cosmetic products like lipstick or edible paint to enhance the color of certain foods, ensuring that fruits and vegetables appear vibrant and appetizing in photographs.
  8. Dental Tools for Precision: Achieving precision in food styling often requires unconventional tools. Dental tools, for instance, are handy for placing small items, adjusting delicate elements, or creating intricate patterns in food.
  9. Faux Grilling Marks: When shooting indoor grilling scenes, those perfect grill marks are often created using a branding iron heated over a flame or a stovetop. It ensures a consistent and aesthetically pleasing presentation.
  10. Ice Cream Stand-Ins: Capturing the ideal scoop of ice cream for an extended photoshoot can be challenging. Food stylists sometimes use mashed potatoes or shortening as stand-ins since they don’t melt and hold their shape under the hot lights.

Food stylists emerge as the unsung heroes, turning ordinary ingredients into captivating visual feasts. Their artistry goes beyond the kitchen, transcending the boundaries of conventional culinary expertise to create images that evoke emotions, tell stories, and tantalize our senses. From the meticulous arrangement of sesame seeds to the strategic use of dental floss for the perfect cheese pull, food stylists employ a blend of creativity, science, and unconventional tricks to bring food to life in the visual realm. Whether collaborating with photographers on advertising campaigns, enhancing cookbook visuals, or contributing to the aesthetics of product packaging, food stylists shape our perceptions of food, turning each dish into a work of visual art that sparks our culinary imagination. In the symphony of flavors and colors, food stylists play a silent yet impactful tune, making the ordinary extraordinary and leaving a lasting impression on our gastronomic experiences.