“We at Nitin Tandon Food Styling Company, are a dedicated team of food stylists who make everyday food a treat for the eye. Equipped with an eye for detail and love for food we shoot every picture to thrill. We believe in diverse thinking and strive towards achieving the most effective pictures for brands. We understand creative process is a lot of debate and many perspectives are involved in getting the right image – that’s why we love our clients! No life without them.”
While most people interested in Culinary Arts choose to work as chefs for 5 star kitchens, there are a few creative others who are interested in the more unusual culinary careers and get into the media world to become food stylists. Yes, the team of NTFSCo. consists of creative chefs who love thinking out of the box and making the food around them look beautiful for the eyes.
Nitin Tandon - Chief Food Stylist, chef and a restaurateur, is listed among Top 50 Masterchefs of India in 2012 by Indian Chef Association, and successfully ran three restaurants in Mumbai. Chef Nitin has an experience of over 25 years in the food & beverage industry including Taj and Oberoi Hotels. Being the founder of eateries like Seijo & the Soul Dish, Fete Banquets, Lemongrass and Pot Pourri, he has hands on experience on all the essential elements involved to run a successful restaurant. For Chef Nitin, food is an experience that caters to all senses. As an artist at heart, he believes beautiful food makes the experience much more delicious. His expertise lies in styling food for FMCG brands, fine dine restaurants and cafes, banquet styling, recipe development for food & beverage sector, kitchen set-up, creating business plans and consultancy for start-ups.
People now days have started becoming aware of of situations where food looks are more important than its taste. Well a lot of people won’t agree to my statement but it’s true! This is the main reason chefs with creative thinking started helping photographers who had no skills in cooking to beautify the dish they were shooting and slowly with time this became a full time profession.
So basically, food styling is the art of arranging food so that it looks fresh and appealing for the eyes. This is important in a number of situations, like; cook books, big food hoardings, magazines, advertisements and restaurant menus. The team of NTFSCo. does it all!
Food Stylists combine their culinary knowledge with science to prepare dishes for different media fields which look mouth-watering yet are inedible. We love being responsible for finding unusual ingredients and preparing food so it looks freshly made and appetizing. A culinary degree is a must for a food stylist, as the job requires extensive knowledge of food reacts, aesthetically and scientifically. To keep ourselves on top of the list we keep studying and attend seminars and enroll ourselves for courses to learn new tricks and techniques of food styling.
Leena Tandon- Prop Stylist at NTFSCo. tells us how she keeps herself updated with fresh ingredients and props. She says, today's time lovely fresh ingredients are available at a vegetable vendor to a Nature's Basket, Foodhall, the Organic vegetable flea market. Travelling and visiting new restaurants exposes us to the latest ingredients available and how they are used in the making of good delicious looking food. The plates n props used plays a very important part of the presentation. Pastel Colors are in, small and cute looking props helps in individual presentations too.
“A food stylist should have a broad range of experience in culinary field, be it with cooking or writing or recipe development. One should have the ability to deconstruct and reconstruct the recipe and produce mouth-watering images. An eye for detail along with experience in food presentation completes a chef as a food stylist.” Aesha Majithia. One of the first few people to work along with Nitin Tandon as a Food Stylist. The beginning of most of the stylist's careers starts by working under a well-established food stylist- where you can gain experience and master the skill of making the food look good.
What are the tricks and tools used by a stylist? A lot of ingredients are swapped and different methods of cooking are used to allow the food to sit for hours and hours without losing the freshness under the hot lights.
Being a food stylist is a challenging job. Each of us have our favourite tools of trade, be it knifes, or tweezers or different art supply items. But it’s not all about fooling the cameras! Food stylists get to experiment with new recipes when they are helping during cookbooks, or they help in creating new menus for food chains.
According to Swati Desai - Associate Food Stylist at NTFSCo., the work of a food stylist is to mix two worlds on a platter. One of the culinary arts and the other is design. A stylist has to be well versed with the science of food and how it looks and behaves in front of the camera. Colours, texture, viscosity, grain, rough, smooth is the stuff we constantly play with. Just the way a director would demand an actor to emote well, the camera demands the food to look its best under the harsh lights. To do that the stylist has to align with the visualisation of the director and prepare food that meets the eye and make the viewer salivate.
We also do our homework regarding the food brand and the inherent message it needs to convey. In the business of selling food, the visual of the food is the advertisement shouting out loud "eat me". We as stylists take it one step ahead by taking the viewer on a journey of experiencing the food with the lifestyle it portrays.
Being a food stylist always requires you to be your best and be at the top of your game, and to know the fact that food always doesn’t behave well. A food stylist is only as good as the last photo or advertisement, so this requires you to be focused, detail- oriented, organized and have an excellent way of combining artistic vision with culinary skills. If this sounds like you, go ahead and fulfill your dreams of becoming a food stylist!