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Food Styling Courses: How to Master the Art of Culinary Presentation

Food styling is the enchanting art of transforming a humble dish into a visual masterpiece. It’s the craft of making food look not only delicious but also irresistible. Whether you’re a food enthusiast, an aspiring chef, a blogger, or a professional photographer, mastering the art of food styling can take your culinary journey to new heights. In this article, we’ll explore the world of food styling, including the best online courses available to help you refine your skills.


What is Food Styling and Why is it Important?

In the realm of culinary arts, the presentation is as crucial as the taste. The way food is styled can significantly enhance its appeal, making it a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. This article provides a comprehensive guide on food styling courses that can help you elevate your culinary presentation skills.

food styling courses

The Basic Principles of Food Styling: Color, Texture, Shape, and Contrast

1. Be Selective and Prepare Your Ingredients

Opt for fresh, vibrant, and top-notch ingredients that are visually pleasing. Ensure they are cut uniformly and are free from any blemishes or discoloration.

2. Visualize the Taste:

Rather than telling, show the flavor, texture, and aroma of your food. Consider adding a drizzle of sauce or a sprinkle of herbs to enhance the visual appeal.

3. Keep It Real:

Avoid using artificial or non-edible props that could mislead or disappoint the viewer. For instance, refrain from using glue as a milk substitute or cotton balls in place of ice cream.

4. Embrace the Mess, But Keep It Clean

A touch of messiness can add character to your food, but too much can make it appear unappetizing. For example, crumbs on a slice of cake can add charm, but not when they’re all over the cake.

5. Tell a Story:

Consider the mood, theme, and context of your food and choose props and backgrounds accordingly. A rustic wooden board could be perfect for farmhouse-style bread, while a sleek white plate might suit a modern sushi dish.

6. Play with Dimensions:

Experiment with different heights, angles, and perspectives to add depth and interest to your food presentation. You could stack your food high, tilt your plate slightly, or crop your shot creatively.

7. Know When to Stop:

Avoid overcomplicating with too many elements or details that might distract from the main focus of your food. Keep it simple and elegant.

8. Choose Your Plates Wisely:

Use small, plain-colored plates to showcase your food effectively. Keep a wide rim clear around the plate for an elegant look.

9. Perfect Your Coffee Shots:

Add milk or cream to your coffee slowly to create movement in the drink. Take several photos in quick succession as the cream mixes to give yourself multiple options.

10. Master the Art of Glazing:

Make your cake glaze or icing slightly thicker than usual for better control. Start by drizzling along the edges of the cake before filling out the middle.

The Art of Food Styling: Tips and Techniques

Before you embark on your food styling journey, here are some invaluable tips and techniques to keep in mind:

How to Use Props, Backgrounds, and Lighting to Enhance Your Food Photos and Videos

1. Choose and Prep Ingredients Thoughtfully

When styling food, select the freshest and most appealing ingredients. Carefully prepare them, ensuring even and neat cuts. Keep them moist and crisp until you’re ready to shoot.

2. Show, Don't Tell:

Showcase the essential elements of your dish to make viewers hungry and curious. Highlight key ingredients, sauces, garnishes, and textures to evoke a sensory experience.

3. Stay Realistic:

While enhancing the visual appeal of your dish, avoid using artificial or non-edible substances. Keep your food looking authentic and natural.

4. Embrace Controlled Messiness:

A controlled amount of messiness adds intrigue and vitality to your food photos. Create drips, splashes, crumbs, or spills to make your dish more inviting without making it look dirty.

5. Tell a Story:

Use props, backgrounds, colors, and lighting to convey a mood and context for your dish. Craft a narrative that engages viewers and enhances the appeal of your culinary creations.

6. Highlight Dimensions and Break Boundaries:

Create depth and perspective by using layers and angles. Don’t be afraid to break the frame’s boundaries by placing props or ingredients outside it for added dynamism.

7. Know When to Stop:

Exercise restraint when adding or adjusting elements to your dish. Less can often be more, and overcomplicating can clutter your composition. Maintain focus on your dish’s central message and trust your instincts.

How to Style Different Types of Food: Salads, Soups, Desserts, and More

• Use fake ice and drinks:

Real ice can look white and melt fast, while fake ice can look clear and shiny. Fake drinks can also save you money and time, as you can use substitutes like water, food coloring, or gelatin to mimic wine, beer, or juice.

• Get messy, but not dirty:

A little bit of messiness can add some interest and dynamism to your food photos. You can create some drips, splashes, crumbs, or spills to make your dish look more inviting and delicious. However, avoid any stains, smudges, fingerprints, or hairs on your food or props. Also clean up any excess messiness that distracts from the main focus of your dish.

• Communicate a story:

Use different props, backgrounds, colors, and lighting to create a mood and a context for your dish. For example, use a rustic wooden table, a vintage plate, and some fresh herbs to create a cozy and homey feeling for your pasta dish. Or use a bright white backdrop, a colorful napkin, and some sprinkles to create a fun and festive feeling for your cupcakes.

Explore Further

To delve deeper into the world of food styling, you can explore the following resources:

  • Food Network Magazine: A valuable resource featuring insights and tips from top food stylists in the industry.


  • Serious Eats: A comprehensive guide to food styling for home cooks looking to elevate their culinary presentations.


  • Easy Food Photography: A beginner’s guide to food styling basics, covering topics like ingredient selection, color and texture contrast, and layering techniques.


  • BBC Good Food: Interviews with professional food stylists who share their secrets for creating elegant and appetizing food presentations.

The Essential Tools and Equipment for Food Styling

Some food styling tools are:

  • Tweezers: These are useful for placing or adjusting small items or garnishes on your food, such as herbs, seeds, or nuts. They can also help you remove any unwanted crumbs or hairs from your dish.


  • Cotton swabs: These can help you clean up any drips, stains, or fingerprints on your plates or props. They can also be used to apply sauces or glazes to your food in a precise way.


  • Paper towels: These are handy for wiping your hands, picking up spills, or propping up salads or other foods that need some height. You can also use them to protect your surfaces or linens from stains.


  • Tea towels: These are good for drying your hands, spreading on your work surface, or covering your food to keep it moist and fresh.


  • Paint brushes: These can be used to brush oil, butter, or water on your food to make it look shiny and moist. You can also use them to brush off any crumbs or dust from your food or surfaces. A fan brush is especially good for this purpose.


  • Water spritzers: These are small bottles that can spray water on your food to make it look fresh and dewy. You can use them on fruits, vegetables, salads, or any food that needs some hydration.


  • Glycerine: This is a substance that can simulate water droplets on your food, but it does not evaporate quickly like water does. You can mix it with water in a 50/50 ratio and spray it on your food to make it look juicy and appealing.


  • Squeeze bottles: These are bottles with different size openings that can help you apply sauces or dressings to your food in a controlled and neat way. You can use them for both savory and sweet dishes.


  • Grill starter: This is a tool that can create grill marks on your food by applying heat to it. You can use it on meats, vegetables, breads, or any food that you want to look grilled.


  • Heat gun: This is a tool that can apply concentrated heat to a specific spot on your food. You can use it to toast, brown, melt, or reheat your food in a quick and easy way.


These are some of the food styling tools that I found from my web search results. I hope they are helpful for you. If you want to see some examples of food styling in action, you can check out some of these videos:


  • 17 Tools for Food Styling: This video shows how a professional food stylist uses different tools to style various dishes and drinks.


  • 14 Favorite Food Styling Tools: This video shows some of the favorite tools of a food photographer and how they help her create stunning images of food.


The Best Online Food Styling Courses to Learn from the Pros

I hope this information is helpful for you. If you want to learn more about food styling, you can check out some of the online courses that I found from my web search results. They can teach you how to style food for different purposes such as Instagram, advertising, or portfolio.

The Best Online Courses in Food Styling

Food styling, often considered the intersection of culinary art and design, requires a unique blend of skills- from culinary knowledge, creativity, to attention to detail. For those with an affinity for both food and aesthetics, this could be the ideal career.


Professionals such as chefs, influencers, food bloggers, and aspirants can benefit from food styling courses that offer an in-depth understanding of color schemes, food decorating, garnishing, and remarkable creative skills.


Courses range from diplomas to master’s degrees in culinary management, culinary skills, culinary arts, and even food service management. Admission into these courses requires recognized formal schooling of 10+2 for diploma or bachelor’s degree courses. However, for Master’s courses, a degree in a similar or related field is necessary.


Leading universities offering these courses are

Niagara College,

Johnson and Wales University

Culinary Institute of America,

International Culinary Center,

Kendall College of Culinary Arts,

among others. Online alternatives are also available on platforms such as Udemy and Skillshare.


  • The Art of Plating This course is offered by Domestika1,: Offers 11 online courses in food styling taught by professional chefs, food stylists, and photographers. You’ll learn how to style and photograph food for Instagram, create beautiful plating compositions, use natural and artificial lighting, edit your photos, and build your portfolio.


  • The Art of Plating – Domestika2 This course is also offered by Domestika2, : A popular course taught by Jodi Moreno, a chef and food stylist from New York City. You’ll learn how to plate beautiful dishes with colors and textures, use props and backgrounds effectively, choose the best angle and perspective for photographs, and use natural light for photography.


  • How to Become a Food Stylist – Courses3: This course is offered by Skillshare3 A comprehensive guide on becoming a food stylist in India covering courses, exams, eligibility criteria, salary prospects, and career opportunities.


  • 25+ Free Food Styling Courses & Classes4: A curated list of free courses from various online platforms like Udemy, Coursera etc., covering techniques in food styling and photography.


  • 9 Best Food Styling Classes Online – TangoLearn5: A curated list of best online classes covering various aspects of food styling including Instagram styling tips and dark mood photography for culinary projects.


More About Food Styling


Food styling is an intriguing field that blends culinary arts with photography and design. It’s not just about making food look good; it’s also about ensuring it lasts longer under various conditions. Food stylists employ numerous tricks to prevent food from wilting or changing color.


Food styling is also about teamwork; stylists often collaborate with chefs, photographers, art directors, editors, and clients. They need to understand everyone’s vision and communicate effectively.


For those passionate about food and art, food styling can be a rewarding career choice. As per ZipRecruiter data from September 2021, an average annual salary for a food stylist in the United States is $63,829.


If you’re keen on learning more about food styling or improving your skills further:




FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is food styling?

Food styling is the art of making food look appealing and delicious for various purposes, including photography, advertising, or social media. It involves using techniques and tools to enhance the appearance, color, texture, and shape of food, as well as creating a mood and telling a story with your dishes.

How can I improve my food photography skills?

You can improve your food photography skills by following some key food styling tips: • Choose and prep your ingredients wisely. • Show the key elements of the dish. • Maintain a realistic appearance. • Add controlled messiness for visual interest. • Use props, backgrounds, and lighting to tell a story. • Create depth and perspective with layers and angles. • Know when to stop and trust your instincts.

Are there any online courses available for food styling

Yes, there are several online courses available that can teach you food styling techniques for different purposes, such as Instagram, advertising, or building a portfolio. Some of these courses are offered by platforms like Domestika, Skillshare, and Udemy.

What are some essential tools for food styling

Essential tools for food styling include tweezers, cotton swabs, paper towels, tea towels, paint brushes, water spritzers, glycerine, squeeze bottles, grill starters, and heat guns. These tools help with precision, cleanliness, and creating specific visual effects in food styling.


Food styling is a distinctively creative and exciting career in the culinary world. With the right education and skillset, you could turn your passion for food and aesthetics into a lucrative profession. Whether you’re interested in working with international hotels, publishing houses, or food chains, a career in food styling offers a plethora of opportunities. And the perfect place to start your venture is to enroll in a food styling course. So dive in, and let your creativity shine in every platter!

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