Food Consulting with a Twist

Food Consulting with a Twist

Food consulting is as much about people as it is about food.

Sure, an important aspect of food consulting means knowing which ingredients combine in the most appealing and succulent way, and whether it’s best to braise or sear a particular cut of meat. But a truly excellent culinary stylist knows how to listen and communicate.

That’s because, like an increasing number of disciplines these days, food consulting is often a collaborative art. A culinary stylist might find him or herself working with photographers, videographers, cinematographers, writers, art directors, prop stylists and more – to say nothing of the producers and publishers who organize the projects requiring the expertise of such a wide range of professionals.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the professionals a food stylist might find him or herself working with – and how they might best work together:

Food Consulting with Photographers. Food photography is an art unlike any other type of photography. Working with a combination of hot lights and rapidly-melting foods demands quick reflexes and a knack for coming up with solutions on the fly. Food photographers must also contend with an array of laws governing their trade – all food photographed for advertisements must match the content of the food being advertised, for instance. That means no plastic burger patties.

Food Consulting with Videographers and Cinematographers. Though videotape is cheaper than film stock, and engineers are creating more advanced types of high-definition video every day, there still exists a core group of professionals who prefer to work with film. Food consulting alongside filmmakers means knowing how various foods will appear on differing types of film and video stock. The differences can be drastic – the difference between video and film is the difference in picture quality between the evening news and a big-budget summer blockbuster.

Food Consulting with Art Directors. Art directors plan the general look of a photo shoot, television show or event. Working with an art director, a food stylist might have to stick closely to a provided palette of colors or textures. A project run by an art director might also constrain the range of food props by certain parameters – a food stylist might have to stick to foods specific to a certain region of the world or time in history, or only use foods associated with a given cuisine type.

Food Consulting with Writers.
Often, food stylists will find themselves working closely with cookbook writers, helping to design new recipes or alter existing ones. Food stylists might also work with writers to create narration or scripts for television shows. A food stylist might also find him or herself working as an occasional consultant to a food blogger or a newspaper or magazine food writer.

Food Consulting with Prop Stylists. Most foods require props to sit alongside them – even finger foods need to be served in a container. A prop stylist might work side-by-side with a food stylist/consultant under the direction of an art director, to create the perfect visual combination of foods and props for a photo or video shoot.