The Most Bizarre Styling Tricks to Fake Perfect Food

The Most Bizarre Styling Tricks to Fake Perfect Food
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The Most Bizarre Styling Tricks to Fake Perfect Food

Ever wonder how food stylists make a dish look too good to eat? Here are the weirdest tricks of the trade to make food look tasty.

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Steam for soups, coffee and other hot foods

Heat up water-soaked cotton balls in the microwave, and they can produce steam for several minutes. Then, hide the cotton balls behind food for a steamy look.

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Charring on meat

Under-cooked food tends to look better in photographs, so food stylists fake a burnt appearance on steak and other meats using eyebrow pencils or eyeliners.

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Foam for milk, coffee and beer

Poured liquids lose their bubbly surface very quickly. To get the freshly-poured look, stylists add dish soap to the surface of milk, coffee and other drinks. For beer, a combination of liquid soap and shaving cream can fake foam.

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Springy dollops of sour cream

One trick to fake a plump-looking dollop of sour cream, perfect on top of baked potatoes and tacos, is to mix the sour cream with motor oil. Motor oil also makes a convincing-looking pancake syrup.

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Fixing Chicken Skin Tears

Stylists fix holes in the skin of meat by sewing it closed before cooking, and then hiding the stitch with sauce or glaze. Alternatively, holes can be patched with a bit of super glue.

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Perfect pancakes

Pancakes can absorb the syrup poured on top of them. Stylists prevent the soggy look by spraying pancakes with fabric protector spray Scotchgard before pouring.

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Perfect milk

If you see a perfect bowl of cereal in a photo, it might be because Elmer's white glue replaced the milk. In addition, diluted glue pours beautifully out of pitchers.

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Perfect roast chicken

Make chicken look plump by stuffing its cavity with paper towels. Then stick it in the oven until it is slightly under-cooked. Using a brush, paint the body with a brown mixture (like food coloring or sauce and spices) and apply a blowtorch until you get that perfect out-of-the-oven look.

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Crisp salad greens

While an ice water bath can do the trick, some stylists swear by florist's flower food packets to keep salad greens from wilting.

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Beautiful plating

Not just for false teeth, denture adhesives work great for sticking food to the plate.

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Fuss-Free Ice Cream

Working with real ice cream is notoriously difficult, so sometimes stylists switch out the real thing for dyed mashed potatoes. Another popular substitute is shortening mixed with confectioner's sugar.

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Creamy Milkshakes

For the same creamy appearance, stylists can swap milkshake with dyed and whipped shortening.

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Glossy Fruit

Fruits and vegetables look fresh and juicy with a quick spray of deodorant or swipe of wax. Spray deodorant also can help give fruit the appearance of a “cold sweat” from being chilled.

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Freshly-Cut Fruit

To prevent cut fruit from discoloring or shriveling, it is soaked in a cold-water bath with a sprinkle of “Fruit Fresh”, an edible produce protectant.

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Red Berries

To make berries redder, a swipe of lipstick might do the trick. It’s perfect for covering up white spots and discolorations.

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Gravity-Defying Shots

Fun tack, museum wax and erasers are all essential to a food stylist’s kit. Fun tack is a tacky substance great for holding items in place, while museum wax is sticky and applies clear. Erasers can help prop items up, and its tacky surface helps to stabilize.

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Fruit Fuzz

A quick trick for faking fuzz on unripe nectarines is to spray it with anti-fungal foot spray.

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Bubbly Champagne

Adding crushed aspirin to champagne can pump up its fizziness.

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Moist Cake

Photo shoots can last for hours, and food under hot lights can quickly dry out. Stylists rely on hairspray to keep cake and bread looking freshly sliced.

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The Perfect Bite

For a television commercial where an actor bites into the product, a food stylist has to prepare food in volume. Food stylist Ricki Rosenblatt recalled one “bite-and-smile ad” that required cooking 300 hamburgers in five hours.

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Before you think about taking a bite of that perfect stack of pancakes dripping with syrup you might see in an advertisement or a cookbook, you may be surprised to learn that Scotchgard and motor oil are the secret ingredients to make it look appetizing.

These household items are just a few tools that food stylists rely on to make food look good to eat. While food photography today is trending toward a more natural appearance with an emphasis on real foods, there are still some old-school tricks up stylists' sleeves to fake a perfect scoop, sear or pour.

Check out the slideshow above to discover strange food styling tricks to make food look tasty.

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