FAQ’s for foodstyling career
1.What does a food stylist do? Do they cook food and garnish it? Do they only Garnish food? Do they do tricks on camera?
A food stylist works like a makeup artist for food cooking, tweaking and garnishing food till its looks absolutely perfect and beautiful to be photographed by a photographer or a videographer.
The primary job of a food stylist is to garnish food and then plate it using crockery. Having said that most food stylist also cook food in a certain way to increase the shelf life of food while shooting it so that it stays fresh for a longer time. Alternatively if a person is only skillful in garnishing food and not cooking it he/she can hire a chef to cook food for them to garnish on sets. At times they may even hire an art director to aid them get the right crockery to plate the food beautifully.
2.Where do food stylist usually come from? What is their background?
There is no particular background that a food stylist needs to come from. Unlike medicine, engineering, architecture etc since there is no school to teach people this craft and it is a self taught discipline a food stylist could come from any field. Having said that he/she must have a good knowledge of food, garnishes and art.
3.Are there any schools to teach food styling in India or overseas?
No there is no school to teach people to style food. Across the world there are workshops spanning 2 days to 1 week max to give people a glimpse of this craft. But beyond that there is no formal training available for this. One learns this craft all by oneself through practice.
4.How many years does it take to be a food stylist?
It varies from person to person. But on an average if you work 5 good years with a senior food stylist then you can branch out on your own as an independent food stylist.
5.Is there any book a food stylist uses to understand tricks related to food?
Yes there are many books on the net. I would not like to mention any and sound biased. Personally I do not use any book for my tricks.
6.How is food styling different from food photography?
A food stylist cooks and garnishes the food first. He/she then composes the food infront of the camera using food crockery so that the setup tells a story by itself. That is what food styling is all about.
A food photographer on the other hand lights and captures the image of the food composed by the food stylist. Neither do they cook food, garnish food or compose food.
7.Is it important to know photography to style food?
Not really. The job of a food stylist is to only cook and garnish food and not take its pictures. That’s the job of a food photographer. However if a food stylist has a knowledge about food photography it helps them in their craft by composing their shots better and faster ( for they understand how the camera perceives the shot and work accordingly)
8.Do food stylist use real food or they use fake food during shoots?
As a foodstylist I use real food. It’s a misconception that the food on sets is fake. Only sometimes I cook food partially to make it appear fresh for a longer time as opposed to cooking it fully. That’s the only difference. So we do not use fake food we only undercook it.
9.Can food cooked by a food stylist be consumed?
Yes at times. It depends on the situation. If in the story of the ad film the artists are shown eating the food styled by the food stylist he/she is told about it beforehand and the stylist cooks food that can be consumed. Otherwise they mostly cook food that has no taste and only looks good.In that sense the food made by a food stylist cannot be eaten.Another reason for not consuming food made by a stylist is that at times they spray some chemicals on it to keep away flies. So its not advisable to eat that kind of sprayed food.
10.Do food stylist use things like bootpolish to make things dark/black?
No they don’t.
11. What do food stylist use for producing smoke in food in India?
They use agarbatti, laxmi dhoop, coal, chemicals etc for producing smoke in food in India.
I have answered additional questions in my TEDx talk on foodstyling.
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