Bloggers, open your Food Styling: The Art of Preparing Food For the Camera manuals to page 214. Here author Delores Custer demonstrates the coloration and yum-factor difference between cooked hamburger patties stored in vegetable oil, covered in plastic wrap, or en plein air. Still with us?

As Custer points out (in somewhat more polite more terms), to be a successful food stylist, you need to be an obsessive-compulsive type. Or at least really, really care about whether all those sesame seeds are facing the right direction on your hamburger bun. If you're happy to snap away at whatever is in your lightbox regardless of whether that brownie has four razor-edge straight sides, this book is not for you. But if you sort of do want to know why this food stylist with more than thirty years of Kraft, General Mills and Campbell's Soup shots calls mortician's wax the absolute must-have tool (it's useful for holding just about anything in place), we think shelling out the $75 $47.25 is worth it. Plus, the food styling history section, from home economics to dealing with fat free foods in the early 1990s, is fascinating (apparently “heavy spritzing” applied not just to the hair, but the food of the 1980s).

Keep reading for some of Custer's top food styling tips.


You Can Shoot It, But Can You Style It?; Credit:

You Can Shoot It, But Can You Style It?; Credit:

10. Sure, good old Elmer's works for Popsicle stick furniture, but it's also handy for gluing those sesame seeds back on their buns. Makes a nice drop of milk, too.

9. For that “cheese pull” look on pizza, forget the fresh stuff. Low-fat mozzarella is a must.

8. Use a heat gun, not a toaster, to toast an English muffin evenly (don't use a blow torch as you'll end up with, well, burnt toast).

7. Choose grapes with that dusty white “bloom” coating on them, then spritz with water just before shooting so they look cool and crisp.


6. Corn Husker's Lotion spread on both sides of a tortilla keeps it from cracking when rolled (no, you can't eat it; it's toxic).

5. Metal hair combs are great for adding texture to breads and cakes (run it across their surface) or popping open an English Muffin.

4. Eyedroppers, not Padma, are the real reason that sauce is dripping from that burger.

3. You never know when you'll need a fake apple or peach leaf, so keep a Ficus around.

2. Use a propane torch to re-melt the chocolate chips in a cookie so they look freshly-baked but have the firm structure of a cooled cookie. [Correction: Use a heat gun to re-melt those chocolate chips — a propane torch will scorch the heck outta those little Nabisco numbers.]

1. Tampons (known as T-28s in the food styling biz) produce localized steam. Soak them in water, zap in the microwave and bury them behind food.

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