Magazine Cover Staff Blog

Food, Glorious Food!


What is the key ingredient to a scrumptious looking magazine cover? Lipstick and maybe even cardboard.

Yes, all is not what it seems. As news stands groan under the weight of the explosion of food magazines in the marketplace, buoyed by popular TV series including Masterchef, My Kitchen Rules and The Great Australian Bake Off; it’s time to take a look at the magic and wizardry that goes into producing a fabulous food cover.

As the warmer months get closer, red ripe berries take centre stage on the top food mag covers – often paired with snow white meringues asCuisine did. How do they get the berries so perfectly red you ask? Any discoloured spots are touched up with the stylists red lipstick to keep an even looking colour.

When summer arrives roasts are out and greens are in, and much much like a fashion model in a hot desert, salads are given a spritz of water to keep the greens looking crisp for the camera. Grilled vegies often take hours to prepare with the black grill marks being burnt individually by the stylist to ensure even spacing.

When it comes to hamburgers this is a serious production. Poppy seeds are meticulously glued on top of buns, and the melted cheese is often a slice of cold cheese which has been ‘simmered’ in hot hot water to achieve the dripping, gooey affect over the meat patty.

Does that stack of pancakes look good enough to eat? Maybe check inside as the pancakes are often propped up with cardboard in between the layers to keep its structural integrity. And is that a cappuccino in the background? No it’s a tower of painstakingly piped foam soap ‘bubbles’ – suggest you don’t drink it.

Much thought also goes into the propping around the food with white plates often being used to allow the food to take centre stage plus it gives the art directors plenty of room for the recipes.

Libbie Summers an award winning cookbook author and blogger denies she ever fakes her food images saying  “People ask me all the time about what “fake” things I use when styling food. My answer is always, none. Fake food in food styling is old school. I can spot an image that has fake food in it a mile away. It’s kind of like spotting fake boobs.”

But she does agree that on a commercial shoot you need to have lots of choices for the client saying  I had somewhere close to 200 hamburger patties and the same amount of buns…to find the single perfect burger.”

So when you next find your recipe interpretation doesn’t quite look like the magazine cover – fear not, as your version will probably taste a lot nicer than cardboard.

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