Food Styling: How to Make Food Pretty

Let me guess:

Your mouth waters from looking at decadent pictures of food on Pinterest.

You pin a recipe, thinking it is so simple even a fool couldn’t mess it up.

You invite friends over for dinner to show off your culinary prowess.

You hide under the table because your masterpiece would be embarrassing to a 3-year-old.

Has this ever happened t o you?

Oh gosh, I’m sorry.

Stop crying.

It’s going to be okay.

We can fix this!

I happen to be in possession of top-secret information shared only among professional food stylists. These people know how to make even mud pie look appetizing. So… keep these tips in mind and your next culinary adventure will be a scrumptious sensation.

I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to use cupcakes from last weeks Cupcakes and Cocktails event to demonstrate my point.

  1. Consider color when planning your dish. You want to include components with complementary or contrasting colors. Why? If the recipe calls for red bell peppers for a spinach salad, you can substitute green but they won’t create a visual pop. Put black on white like on this Black and White Russian cupcake and Ka-Bam!
  2. Think about texture. Texture is both something you can see and feel so the more textures your food has, the more flavors you’ll expect. Add components with different textures like crunchy almonds, crispy snap peas, and smooth sweet potato puree. Or pair a creamy lemon swirl with fluffy sweet tea cake to create a fun Arnold Palmer cupcake.
  3. Garnish your plate with items that showcase or compliment the flavors in the food. Try using lemon or lime wedges, mint or parsley leaves, other chopped fresh herbs, or get creative and make a tomato flower. Or top a Texas Tea cupcake with yummy peaches. 
  4. Use contrasting shapes. If your dish calls for whole green beans, compliment those with carrot coins instead of matchsticks. Green sprinkles, tiny gold sparkles, and swirled icing make Steve’s Special special.
  5. Add dimension to your plate. Ever notice that when you serve yourself food, you spread it out across the entire plate? Try building upward. For example, place steamed spinach directly on the plate, then add a well shaped scoop of rice pilaf, and top that with a piece of perfectly cooked Pacific salmon, and then garnish it with some fresh dill and lemon wedges. See how exciting this Black Cherry Pomegranate cupcakes looks with all of the components?


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