Most Essential Tools for Food Styling: Part 1
Updated: Aug 28
A Food Stylist must carry a tool kit for every work assignment. The tools in this kit are essential for every stylist to be able to style their dishes successfully. Here we list a few basic items that every Food Stylist should have in their took kits. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it does include the must-haves in your tool kit for most Food Styling projects. Don’t go to a shoot without them!
Tweezers come in various shapes and sizes – there are makeup tweezers, surgical tweezers, and culinary tweezers. Whichever ones you choose to use, based on your comfort level, one thing is for sure it is the single most indispensable tool in your toolkit. There are many instances where your final dish is set and you cannot touch the food with your fingers anymore for fear of toppling. Tweezers are a must have to make minor changes at this point, and place delicate garnishes precisely before your final shot. Don’t let your tweezers out of your sight!
Scissors are another essential in your tool kit. Keep several different sizes handy.They can be used to cut card paper to give your stack of parathas some stability,open packets without struggling, snip off the best pieces of garnishes from a bunch or cut off a stray strand of pasta from your final plated dish.
3. Paper Towels
While we always try to minimize our use of paper in everyday life, good quality paper towels are an indispensable part of a shoot. Paper towels are used to clean your plate / bowl spotlessly before you take the final shot. Small pieces of paper towels can also be used to dab excess oil from food or to absorb a layer of liquid or oil from gravy that is overfilled.
Brushes are used for several different reasons in Food Styling are another must-have in your tool kit. Brushes are used to lightly apply oil to food to make it glisten and look the most attractive just before your final shot. You can use a flat, broad brush to clean unwanted crumbs away from a surface and various brushes can also be used to make interesting and decorative swipes of a sauce in your dessert plate.
5. Cotton swabs
Similar to paper towels, cotton swabs are mostly used to precisely clean any dabs or smears around your plated food. Useful for small spot cleanups, make sure to use good quality cotton swabs or they will leave their own lint on your plate or food.
Blu-tack is a sticky, putty that is used to stick things in place so that they don’t move around. Blu-tack can also be used to prop up small components of food so that it does not look flat and can stay in place at your desired angle. An example would be if you had a slice of lemon that you wanted angled more towards your camera, you could use a small piece of Blu-Tack to prop it up and hold it in place at the same time. It does not damage your plates or backgrounds and can be peeled off safely and reused.
Sometimes, you will need to use glue on food in order to make it stay in place or enhance the appearance of the food. Fewi-kwik can come in handy at such times. You must be extremely careful handling food with Fewi-kwik on it as it works quite fast and can actually make your fingers stick to each other. You must also make sure that Fewi-kwik is not accidentally ingested on your set.
8. Toothpicks / Bamboo Skewers
Toothpicks are used to hold food together so that it holds its shape better. They can also be used to prop things up on your plate or support something like a box of French fries, along with blu-tack as long as they are not seen. Small pieces of spices or nuts can be shot for a limbo shot at the desired angle by using toothpicks and blu-tack as well.
Bamboo skewers come in a couple of different lengths and are very useful to hold food together for a shoot – like a burger or a tall sandwich. They are often used in the shot for skewered food (fruit skewers/kebabs on a grill) as they look more elegant than a thicker metal skewer. They can also be very useful to adjust food on a plate and for levitation shots.
To be continued.