Wonder why those glossy pictures of food in magazines look so appetizing in comparison to the food that is served in restaurants? What makes the difference is a food stylist.
"It is the process of making the food look glamorous. It is an extremely artistic profession," says Indranie Dasgupta, a well-known name in the industry of 'food beautification'.
Dasgupta has been styling food for 12 years and her recipe for becoming a food stylist is simple: "a blend of creativity, a dash of passion for food and a marginal idea about the background of the food and the country it belongs to."
Dasgupta, who used to be a Montessori teacher, discovered her fancy for food styling while helping husband Pradeep, a photographer, on his photo-shoots for food brochures and print ads. "I learnt the basics of photography from him, that involves a know-how of the intensity of lighting, the angles for the shoot and picture editing," she says.
Apart from making the food appear tantalising, the ambiance and the props need to be in tandem with the nature of food. "If an Italian dish is being shot we cannot possibly use ethnic crockery," she added. It is not as simple as placing a pudina leaf on a drink, but our job is to find the perfect leaf and place it in a way that it is highlighted in the picture.
Food-stylists are not concerned with the taste of the food. Sometimes they even use fake food items. "We have equipment to produce that desired brown look for the pizza, or to highlight a particular part of the food product."
Dasgupta has a significant goodwill. She has styled food for the MTR food packs, Crème Bell and Mother Dairy ice creams.