A Look into The Life of a Food Stylist

When someone considers a career in culinary arts, they normally imagine themselves in the chef, pastry chef or sommelier profession. But there are people who make a living working with food without even having to cook it in some cases: food stylists. To work as one, you must have a creative eye and perform well with your hands. Food stylists are behind the scenes at photo shoots and do all they can to make a dish look extra tasty.

In a recent interview with the Guardian, food stylist Annie Hudson revealed how she got started working on food books. She obtained a formal education at a culinary school and got the rare opportunity to be an assistant stylist on a recipe book. By the luck of the draw, the main stylist wasn’t able to make it and Hudson had to chance to style the food on her own. It was a learning experience, but it allowed her to start a portfolio.

Even though Hudson had experience working as a fully fledged food stylist, she wanted to learn from the pros.

“For most of the next year I did lots of assisting, because that is the way to learn,” Hudson told the source. “When you are assisting you help with the food prep, do all the washing up, and unpacking and packing up of food.”

Assistant food stylists also help during the photo shoot. They run to grab an item for the stylist or pick up coffee for the crew. In the first year, Hudson managed to work on three food books. She kept her momentum by being proactive. Hudson sent a link of her online portfolio to publishers so they would have it on file.

Culinary skills
The skills Hudson learned in culinary school are vital to her job. She researches each recipe, purchases the ingredients and cooks the items until they are photo ready. Hudson says it’s important to find the best​-looking food items. In the past, food stylists have got a bad rep for faking good-looking food by using sprays and dyes. However, all the food Hudson styles is completely edible.

Advice to those starting out
Hudson says that you must know the fundamentals of culinary arts to do well at the job. Yes, you should have an eye for color and composition, but you should know how to work with the dish in case what you plan doesn’t work out.

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