Food Styling: My 5 Tips For Getting Started As A Food Stylist

So you want to be a Food Stylist,
and you don’t know where to start … 

Here are my 5 tips for getting started in the industry.

Firstly, the big number ONE, I can’t stress this strongly enough.

1. You need to learn to cook.

And cook well, confidently and quickly. Understand how ingredients respond to different situations. Learn cooking terminology and techniques. Learn to be comfortable and confident with different appliances, especially learn knife skills which will save you a lot of time in the future.Essentially food stylists cook for a living. Styling a pretty picture is simply put, the top of the iceberg, it’s the 10 -15% that you see, but the other 85-90% that you don’t see on the billboard or in the food magazine, involves prepping ( schlepping – see no.5) and cooking.  The more proficient you are at testing, developing and cooking recipes the more confident you will be and the more time you will have for the pretty part that everyone loves. Sign up for a course at a local college, and get a good understanding and knowledge of culinary skills and terms.of culinary, it will be best launching pad for your career into food styling!

2. Practice. 

Bake, cook and practice.Try new recipes, and techniques.  Bake on days when it’s humid and raining and see what happens, how does it affect your product. Can you make meringue? Have you tried different techniques, Swiss meringue, Italian meringue. Have you got a tried and tested recipe for hollandaise, do you know what to do if it splits and curdles?  Practice. Practice. Practice.

3. Stretch yourself.

This ties in with the first two, learning new kitchen skills, applying them in practice and then stretching yourself with both techniques and ingredients. Try different or unusual ingredients. Have you tried chicken feet, or grubs? Can you cook tripe? What about goat ?  Having at least a working knowledge of their preparation and taste will mean you’re not thrown a curve ball when you’re ask to style them. Having an open mind and being willing to experiment will set you in good stead.

4. Learn to improvise.

Food stylist must be able to think on their feet,  pull rabbits out of hats,  and solve problems quickly.
The more confident you are the quicker you will be able to respond in a crisis. You will often be required to multi-task, or drop everything and start on something else, being flexible and adaptable will make the job a lot less stressful.

5. Prepare yourself for the schlep.

There simply is no other way to say this. Food styling requires a lot of unglamorous work. When I brief my new assistants they are often amazed at the amount of work that goes into preparing for a job. From shopping for ingredients, often tracking down an ingredient can be worth of The Amazing Race status, to packing and unpacking equipment, lugging props and styling surfaces, and all this before even starting on the cooking or recipe testing.

Prepare yourself. And then go for it!  I’m here to cheer you on !

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