What's in a food stylist's tool kit?

Hot gun

In some cases, a hot gun is employed when a food item requires burnishing. “Sometimes one side of a roast chicken looks more brown than the other side, so we need to use the hot gun to even out the skin tone, ” says food stylist Eunice Martin Lim.


A tweezer is typically used to attach or arrange herbs/microherbs or other delicate food items onto a plated meal. “I normally use tweezers for things that are delicate or hard to reach and have different tweezer sizes depending on how narrow the space is, ” says food stylist Goh Soo Yin.

Cotton buds

Because the cotton in cotton buds is very fine, it is typically used to remove fine bits of wet or dry food that are not meant to be there, like oil or small smears.


“We use steamers to attain that smoky effect. For example, if you’re shooting a bowl of soup noodles and you want to have that smoke effect on top, we usually use a steamer for that, ” says food stylist Trisha Toh.


When a meal like a bowl of noodles, soup or curry has too much broth, a pipette is used to carefully suck out the excess liquid until it reaches the desired level.

Bottles of oil

An old trick of the trade, oil is used to achieve a shiny, glistening look on food or is applied to food that looks overly dry like dried out spaghetti or rice.


When a stylist needs a particular ingredient to be propped up, they stick toothpicks into the meal to keep everything in place. “Toothpicks are normally used to hold pieces together – like sandwiches or burgers. It can also be used to create a base that helps volumise food. Like burgers sometimes look very flat, so if we want to layer it more, we add toothpicks, ” explains Goh.

Glycerine and water spray

“I usually spray this on fruits to give it that fresh look. Also if you just spray it with water, it will evaporate and dry out fast, but if you use this mixture, it will stay on longer, ” says Toh.

Red lipstick

As strange as it may sound, red lipstick is a staple in most food stylist’s tool kits. “If you are photographing lobster or prawn, it tends to lose a lot of its red colour when it is cooked, so we use lipstick to accentuate the colour. We add lipstick to strawberries too, especially when the top parts are too pale-looking, ” says Toh.

Assorted stationery

Most food stylists will have an assortment of stationery with them like rulers and scissors to measure and cut a variety of food items as well as things like blue tack. “If we need to lift up a bowl, we use blue tack to secure it, which is great especially if the tableware is wobbly, ” says Goh.

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food stylist , tools , tweezers , lipstick , hot gun


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