I would be angry and felt cheated. Who were these people to be tweezering false hope on the Grand Assiette of my aspirations? Their plates looked stunning and flawless. Do they not own a restaurant? Surely, they must be worthy of Stars or Rosettes? I carry on reading through the dish info and eventually get to the food stylist or food photography hashtags.
There are plenty of these pages and feeds out there. Some of them are chefs. Some are not. Some are chefs, reproducing their images for a professional photographer to snap on their £10k camera. Putting my greasy Samsung S7 to shame in a single click of their billion mega pixel camera. Then sending an image to their web development team, then launch the image to an avalanche of Likes and Hearts… meanwhile in Ipswich, my wild boar linguine tip toes up to 40 thumbs ups! Woo hoo, yay me! There are a fair amount of chefs who snap some amazing shots on their smartphones too. They ones whose filter game is way strong.
Jealous, Moi? No…well maybe a little. But who am I? I’m just a chef. A 50 hour a week pub chef. Grafting and trying to make those coins, to put my kids through university and keep my wife (and the bank) off my back. Can I compete with the big boys and girls on the social media playground, without buying virtual followers?
That’s where those pesky stylists come in. In my opinion, these people are helping chefs like me raise my game. So where I was angry, I am now inspired. Where I was feeling cheated, I was now motivated. These people are producing beautiful dishes which I may not always be able to be reproduce in my kitchen. But, if I can add a single aspect or element to one of my dishes on the menu, then surely, this is progress. The stylists are here to be the chef’s muse, whispering their Siren song over the drone of the extraction unit. Can I emulate? There was a time I had draw the line at adding nasturtiums to my rib eye steaks salads. The chef flower-power movement went to my head for a while, but I’m over that. But wow, what’s next? Ooooh! That combination of Shellfish and Game looks interesting no?
There is definitely a place for the food stylist. As chefs, we need these people to flood social media with inspiration and imagery which can inspire and motivate us mere mortals. I may not be the most technically gifted chef, but I make nice food. I don’t do foams, gels or the trendy tuiles. But I love to combine flavours. I love to see new colours in dishes and I really appreciate the artistry of food presentation. I love it when convention is challenged. As chefs, we should not fear the blogger, the stylist or the food photographer. Embrace the filter. Challenge our own beliefs and evolve this profession.
…but I do hate wellness bloggers, they can shove their avocado toast up their……