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Food Styling: Tools of the Trade Part II

Kim Kissling | Chef's Blade

To follow up last month’s article on tools of the trade, here is a list of the larger items found in a food stylist’s kit.

Heat Gun: This item is usually used to remove unwanted wall paper. The intense heat releases the glue under the paper in order to peel the paper from the wall. But in food styling it is used to melt butter, cheese and brown the tops of some foods such as cheese.

Hand held salamander broiler: A salamander broiler is used in commercial kitchens to heat and reheat food and is sometimes used as a “pass through” from the kitchen to the servers. Having one in a food styling kit helps when trying to brown the top of foods such as an open faced sandwich or a gratin.

Hand Held Steamer: These steamers have recently been a big hit on infomercials used to steam-clean household items. It is also great for a quick hit of heat on top of a cold soup or if condensation is needed on the side of a bowl of soup. But be careful, sometimes the steam coming from these machines is too strong and can make a mess of things.

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Clothing steamer (photo K.K.)

Clothing Steamer: This is used to take wrinkles out of clothing and prop and wardrobe stylists always use them on set. Food stylists use this gentle steaming method to keep cheese alive on set. Cheese is one of those difficult foods in food styling. It looks inviting and enticing when it’s freshly melted but once it sits on set for just a few minutes it starts to create a skin and look cold and hard. A quick hit of steam freshens up the cheese and can bring it back to life. But if you’re going to use this on a sandwich, for example, watch out for the other ingredients such as lettuce. The steam will wilt the lettuce instantaneously and then you have to start from scratch….yes, I’m speaking from experience here.