Style has become a part and parcel of life, creeping its way through some of the most unexpected parts of our life. It was in my quest to define style, that I came across the concept of ‘Food styling’. When once style was considered the epicentre of fashion, It’s unbelievable how the food industry has transformed itself through this simple concept.
The emergence of food styling took place in the face of the growing demand for food photography. Food photography started developing in the 1800s and evolved over the years due to media, technology and tourism. In the early days, photographers sold lifestyle through food photography.
They enticed the audience with a feeling that a particular food evokes in a specific lifestyle, thereby bringing a feeling of want in the minds of consumers. As tourism developed and cuisines started playing a central role in the life of a tourist, it became a significant investment to bring in variety in the food. As the food and beverage industry grew and wider options emerged, businesses set foot into enticing the consumers with new methods. This resulted in the prominence of food styling.
By modifying and bringing innovations in the packaging of the dish, restaurants tried to enhance the experience of the customer. Visual appearance, therefore, started gaining significance in the industry. Businesses used food styling to highlight their brand personality. For example, Certain restaurants whose expertise lies in desserts started packaging it in an exotic manner that would bring in a certain sense of excitement among the customers to visit the restaurant for the particular dish.
Amid all of this, a different facet of food styling has been creating news. It is said that businesses spend a copious amount of money to style their dishes for photographs. Many of these dishes that we see on the banners and magazines for a display to promote a particular business is said to be fake.
The entire exercise is said to be an affair of 2 to 3 days with an immense amount of food being cooked until it gets the perfect colour and thickness. The food giant Mc Donalds, brought in professional food stylists to promote its new item, the cookie. Food stylists who worked on the same say that the cookie was baked for days till it attained the right texture for its visual appeal. On the other side, it is also said that the food used in this process is not real or edible. For example, a turkey that is shown in a banner is stuffed with an enormous amount of tissue to make it look fluffy and the thick milk falling off the glass container may be white paint to make it look more enticing.
One of the most important principles that are followed when it comes to food styling has been that the food has to look fresh. Interesting details by food stylists across the world give us shocking insights into the beautiful food photographs we come across. They say that plates used for the same are cleaned with glass cleaner so that fingerprints are not visible in the photographs. In order to make the salad look fresh, glycerin is used to showcase due drops on the ingredients. Similarly, a wax coating is used for cold items to the extent that cigarette smoke is used to showcase the effect of smoke coming out of the food. This is further perfected using imaging technology where technicians edit these images to change the feel of the image.
As food styling takes the industry to new highs with influencers and bloggers coming to the scene, It brings us to a fearful reality that not everything we see is gold. Nevertheless, as marketing transcends its boundaries, we cannot underestimate the worth of a food that tastes like heaven even in the most unpleasant of the cutlery.