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Food Styling: Tools of the Trade

Food Styling: Tools of the Trade

Kim's food styling tools

Kim Kissling | Chef's Blade

A food stylist’s kit is his/her lifeline. A well-equipped kit will help a job go smoothly and easily. There are things on the list below that one might think odd to use with food but, rest assured, every single item on this list is vital to food styling in one way or another.

There are a few obvious things such as sharp knives, scissors/kitchen shears, torch, paper towels even glue and tweezers. But some of the less obvious ones such as pins, glycerin, erasers, are all explained below and in Part 2, which will be published next month.

Let’s first talk about some obvious tools that are used in somewhat odd ways, such as paper towels. Of course, paper towels are used to clean surfaces but what about using them as diapers for food. I bet you never thought about it, but if a piece of meat, such as a steak, sits on a plate the juices collect under the meat. This is not always what you want to see. A folded up piece of paper towel, a few layers thick, placed under a steak will keep the juices from running out onto the plate and if juices, sauce or gravy needs to be shown, the perfect amount can be placed with a very small spoon or eye dropper in just the right places giving the stylist control over the look and feel of the shot.

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Straight Tweezers (photo K.K.)

As the list continues, the descriptions are a bit more brief than the one above but use your imagination and I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with your own ideas for how things can be used.

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Zap-a-Gap Glue (photo K.K.)

Tweezers: There are many shapes and sizes of tweezers in a food stylist’s kit. Curved tweezers are very helpful getting into those hard to reach places. Fine tipped tweezers are used to pick up the tiniest things such as an unwanted seed.

Glue can be very helpful in many different ways and the type of glue is very important. There is a product called Zap-a-Gap that will actually glue wet, slippery surfaces together such as a tear or a whole in a piece of meat.

Wooden skewers are one of my favorite tools to move things around with as well as to stabilize stacked objects such as a piled high sandwich.

Paint brushes in every shape and size are of utmost importance from painting oil on surfaces to make them look hot, to brushing crumbs off of a surface.