July 28, 2016

Starting a Career as a Food Stylist

Food stylists use their culinary skills to make food look delicious on camera.

If you’re taking courses at an accredited online culinary arts institute, you’ve probably given some thought to the job you hope to pursue. You may hope to rise in the ranks to become an executive chef, open your own restaurant or start a catering company. Another path you may consider, however, is a career in making food look as good as it tastes. Read on to learn more about what a food stylist does and how you can become one:

Delicious looks
A food stylist’s job is to make food look great when it appears on camera, ensuring that every item has an appetizing color and texture. They may be employed by a magazine, on the set of a TV show, at an advertising firm or on individual recipe books. They collaborate closely with art directors and photographers to achieve a look that’s right for the publication or program.

Bon Appetit noted that some of the biggest challenges for food stylists involve finding the perfect ingredients and keeping them looking fantastic throughout the course of a photo session. That means being careful about sealing and refrigerating items like vegetables and working quickly while cooked dishes are still fresh. Stylists may enhance the image through a variety of methods like adding a shiny glaze or creating steam.

Mastering food aesthetics
Culinary academy is the right place to start if you are interested in pursuing a career as a food stylist. The job calls for a deep knowledge of food preparation and ingredients. Food stylist Annie Hudson discussed with The Guardian how her own educational background has contributed to her career.

“You have to have an artistic bent, but you must also be confident that you can work with most cooking methods and ingredients,” she said, “and you have to know how to get yourself out of trouble if something doesn’t work out.”

While the appearances of the food are a stylist’s first priority, they usually must make sure it’s edible as well. In some cases, actors may even be required to eat the dish. That makes it all the more important for aspiring stylists to master a variety of cooking skills

Finding a job
When you set out in search of work as a food stylist, keep in mind there is no single career path in this field. Maria Del Mar Sacas wrote on Serious Eats about how she gained experience in publishing and on photo shoots before ever pursuing an education in cooking. On the other hand, Phillipa Spence, a junior food stylist in training for Jamie Oliver, told Go Think Big that she found her way into her position in the course of her culinary training, joining the company at age 19.

In any case, the most important factors in building a career in food styling are learning your craft and assembling an impressive portfolio. You may gradually build a base of clients in various fields or end up working for a single studio or company. Whatever way your career takes you, you’ll be glad you have a solid foundation from your culinary training.