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Food Styled Meat: Does It Taste As Good As It Looks?

Food Styled Meat: Does It Taste As Good As It Looks?

Calves liver and shallots (photo by K.K.)

Kim Kissling | Chef's Blade

As most chefs or backyard bar-b-quers will tell you, there is a certain knowing and understanding when it comes to cooking meat just right. The same goes when cooking meat for the camera. There are rules to be followed and things to consider but all in all it gets right down to knowing what the client wants the meat to look like.

When photographing meat there are several things that must be taken into consideration:

1. The type of meat. Each kind of cut will determine the correct color and style in which the meat should be cooked.

2. The client who the meat is being shot for. Once the cut is taken into consideration the client’s desired look must then be applied. Some clients like to have the meat look medium rare which appeals to their customer base. Other clients want the meat to look more medium or medium-well. There are different tastes throughout the industry and the customer will ultimately guide the desired finished product.

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Beef Pimentoreles (photo K.K.)

3. The medium in which the meat will be shown. Whether the shot is shown in a magazine, cookbook, advertisement, or on a menu board will also dictate how the meat will be prepared.

Steaks are one of the most enticing pieces of meat to shoot. They can be grilled or pan seared each giving a different feel to the shot. Take for instance a NY Strip Steak versus a Filet Mignon. In most cases a strip steak would be shown grilled medium or medium rare, again depending on the client. An upscale restaurant or magazine would definitely want to show the steak grilled to medium-rare perfection. As opposed to a mid-level chain restaurant who would probably want to show it finished at more of a medium stage.

On the other hand, when shooting a Filet Mignon, most clients that sell this type of steak will want it to be medium rare and sometimes medium. The steaks are more often sautéed with sauces than they are grilled but either type of preparation is acceptable.

What you don’t want to show is a steak that looks raw in the center with a reddish/blue hue and fleshy. On film this is very unappetizing and unappealing.