Food styling: The art of preparing food for the camera :

Posted by-Kalki Team

In the age of social media, looks matter, not just for the mere mortals but also for what is served on the plate. Food styling has now become an important part of the hospitality industry as brands and hotels try to gauge popularity on social media. Chefs with their own social media accounts are presenting stylish dishes custom-made for the internet.

Chennai: For any regular photoshoot of a clothing and apparel brand, there is a creative director, stylist, make-up artist and an expert photographer to make the picture look perfect. Similarly, the chef becomes the stylist and the creative director in ensuring that the food seen in the picture is appealing and the texture of the products used in the dish comes out well. “Food styling is not something new to us. Hotels have the concept of Menu Standardisation, where the presentation aspect is taken seriously. Often, people decide on what to order based on the picture they see in the menu. So, we spend a lot of time in working on the look of the dish,” says Chef Sai Chand B, a freelance professional.

However, there is difference in the food we see in front of us and what we see in the picture. “Most of the food that is brought for the shoot is not cooked. A shoot takes a couple of days and a fully-cooked dish loses its freshness within hours. Also, we cannot shoot dishes like ice creams as it would melt, so we use mashed potato instead. The ice-cubes used in the pictures are plastic,” says Chef Harish Rao of Crowne Plaza, adding that every dish has a story to tell and the food stylist should be able to express it effectively.

Chef Sai adds that molecular gastronomy has come in handy in food styling. He explains, “We use various techniques that enhance the colour of the food. For example, we add ingredients like carrot to bring out the red of the meat. Molecular gastronomy helps us bring out the wow-factor in our dishes and hold the attention of the audiences on social media.”

But, photographing these shoots can be extremely challenging. Photographer Abhay Kumar says, “The lighting has to be perfect to bring out the best in food. The photo has to do justice to what the dish stands for because whatever is served has a story to tell. Also, two to three days are required for the pre-shoot which requires planning with the chef, the background to work with etc. The shoot itself takes a day and the editing work takes another. In case of video, the post production takes longer.”

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