From the Competition to Your Kitchen: Food Styling Tips from the Pros

Inspired by this week's Food Network Star Mentor Challenge, Food Network Kitchen insiders share their top tricks for taking droolworthy food photos.
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By Leah Brickley

The Food Network Star contest was taken to a new level this week when contestants had to use their food styling and photography skills to win over mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis. Here in Food Network Kitchen, our professional food stylists work behind the scenes to make food beautiful for television, online and print. We know how important the right lighting and composition of a plate can be for a pretty photograph. For those of you who like to #NoFilter, here are some tips from Food Network food stylists Richmond Flores and Susan Vu, and from Heather Ramsdell, director of culinary editorial, who also takes our best in-house photographs!

©2015 Food Network

2015 Food Network

1. Have the right tools.Chopsticks, toothpicks and tweezers are great for moving fussy strands of spaghetti or rogue corn kernels around. Use small brushes for painting a sheen onto meats. Cotton swabs work for quick and precise cleanup, and rubber gloves help to avoid fingerprints.

©2013

2013

2.  Embrace the power of three. For group shots, like muffins or meatballs, just two can look plain or even odd; three is more dynamic.

©2015 Food Network

2015 Food Network

3. Don’t be perfect. Uneven cuts, especially for vegetables, look better on camera.

©2015 Food Network

2015 Food Network

4. Stay streak-free. Keep a small spray bottle of vinegar-water solution to help wipe away unwanted streaks on plates.

©2015 Food Network

2015 Food Network

5. Let the light in. This may be the most-important tip. Always bring your finished dish to a window for some natural light: #NoFilter. (Fluorescent light is no friend to this slice of cake, evidenced in the before-and-after mash-up at the top.)

Which finalist's photo did you think was best? Let us know in the comments below. And tune in to Food Network Star on Sunday at 9|8c to see who stays and who goes home next.

Photo courtesy of Heather Ramsdell
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