Ask Judy – Making meals look their best

Poached Pickerel Herbed Salsa Parsley SacueLast month one of our readers asked “I know becoming a great food stylist comes with education and experience, but what simple tips might you offer for the typical home cook who wants their meals to look their best?”

Thanks Claudine for the great question.  We are glad you asked and Judy is happy to answer.

The following post is brought to us by guest blogger Judy Fowler, Recipe Developer, Tester and Food Stylist. 

Do you have a question for Judy?  Post it below in the comment section and you will be entered to win a Be Well Prize Package*.

Q: I know becoming a great food stylist comes with education and experience, but what simple tips might you offer for the typical home cook who wants their meals to look their best?

A: Here are some simple tips to make food look great on the plate.

1. We eat with our eyes FIRST!

It is so important that you think about the colour of the food(s) that you plate for our friends and families.
Bright greens and brilliant oranges can really help to draw the focus away from the browns on the plate. So – select a variety of colourful foods for the plate.
For example, do not serve white fish with white mashed potatoes along with creamed cauliflower. Serve white fish with asparagus, a colourful salad,  rice pilaf etc. You will want the food to look so good that your friends will want to dig in immediately.

Chicken and Sweet Potato Quesadilla with green salsa

2. Don’t forget about texture

Think about the textures of the foods you are serving. The above example – the fish, mashed potatoes and cauliflower are all soft foods – which shout out -UNFIRM! Think soft vs crunchy. Just use a variety of textures.

Cold Brussels Sprouts Salad

3. Fresh is always best

Always use the freshest ingredients that you can find. DO NOT overcook vegetables – particularly the green ones. Once overcooked, the beautiful brilliant green turns to olive green. That is not appealing to me!

Black Bean Tofu Stir Fry

4. Garnish every plate

Match your garnishes to the ingredients in the recipe. Use fresh herbs. If you cannot match the herb – try a small piece of fresh Italian parsley. Curly leaf parsley has a role to play in food production too – but as a garnish, I do not feel it is ‘elegant’ enough for me.

Whole Fish with Flat Leaf Parsley Garnish

5. Dishes, napkins and a centerpiece pull it all together

Think about the dishes that you are using to plate your foods. They are your props – and they will help to elevate your dish to new levels. Think colour wheel. White is the best – it has an elegant look and you don’t have to be concerned that the colour of your food will not work on that blue or green plate. I use coloured dishes for some of my food – but only if I know the food will look good on a particular coloured dish.
And while you are thinking about dishes – check out the colour of your place mats, napkins (yes – you can use paper napkins) and table cloths. And don’t forget to use a small centerpiece on the table. I have even used small potted plants in a pinch!

Purple flowers for centre piece

Be Well…Judy

Ask Judy Guest Blogger PostJudy is a food stylist, recipe developer & tester, mom, lazy gardener and Zumba enthusiast.  She welcomes the opportunity to experiment with new food items and share her passion and creativity with her clients, family and friends.

She is the food stylist for and as well as many other clients.  If you have a recipe or ingredient question for Judy be sure to send it in to [email protected] or leave it in the comment section below.

*Contest closes on this post January 16, 2013.  Winner will be notified via email and listed in the comment section below.  Full contest rules are available here. CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED


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