We’re in the process of devouring Mardi Michels‘ new cookbook In The French Kitchen With Kids, and, as we’re happily baking French baguettes, lemon and thyme roast chickens, and raspberry financiers, we have many crumbs, spills, and general messes to clean up when we’re doing food styling and food photography. Here are 10 Essential Items for Food Styling we can’t live without!
1. Paring Knife – A small sharp paring knife tucks neatly away and can be used for slicing or spearing food. The tip of the knife is useful for nudging food around with some delicacy when you can’t find your tweezers (which happens often). A paring knife is also useful for opening plastic food packaging like bags of rice or frozen shrimp.
2. Baby Wipes – Absolutely essential for food styling! Use them to wash down backdrops or clean up smears and smudges on plates. Also useful to dampen the end of a cotton swab to pick up tiny crumbs and wipe small splashes.
3. Paint Brushes – Larger ones are great for brushing crumbs (and cat fur) off of backdrops. Smaller brushes are perfect for painting olive oil or sauce onto food to make it shiny.
4. Scissors – Good for snipping chives, fresh herbs, bacon, and many other ingredients. Also useful for opening packaging and cutting fabric.
5. Small Spray Bottles – Three are useful – one with olive oil, one with a 50/50 mix of glycerin and water, and one with plain water. Use olive oil on just about anything that needs a little shine – meat, greens, vegetables. A little goes a along way. Start with a small amount. The glycerin and water mixture can be sprayed on the outside of a glass to look like condensation on a cold drink. Plain water is great for perking up salad greens that have gone limp.
6. Glass Beads – Mostly used for styling soup. Lay them out in the bottom of a soup bowl, and ladle in enough broth to just cover. Place chunky ingredients like meat, vegetables, or pasta into position on top with tweezers. Ladle in a little more broth if necessary to make your soup look more natural. The glass beads prevent your ingredients from sinking to the bottom of the bowl.
7. Tweezers – Even small hands can feel oaf-like in relation to what tweezers can do when moving food and garnishes into position.
8. Cotton Swabs – Multi-purpose but mostly used to clean up crumbs and splashes.
9. Lighter – It doesn’t happen often, but when you are food styling on a professional set and you need to light a candle there’s nothing worse than asking around hoping somebody else has one. To prevent possible embarrassment chuck one in your bag.
10. Duct Tape – Duct tape can secure bunchy or wrinkly fabrics, can keep dishes or silverware in place, and can be used to secure electrical cords so you don’t break your neck. Good to have.
Honourable mention – A Roll Of Paper Towel – Use to wipe up spills, dry dishes after washing, and all around general clean up. Bring at least one!