Here's What It's Like To Be A Movie Set Food Stylist

Even the most delicious food isn't always camera-ready. That's why film and television projects typically employ food stylists to project a realistic, yet mouth-watering representation of everything from ice cream sundaes to Thanksgiving turkeys.

The career only became an actual thing in the 1990s, per Mental Floss. At the time, props departments were in charge of preparing food for shoots. Typically dominated by men, the prop handlers quickly learned to outsource food prep to the women in their lives. This was an effective, if stereotypical, maneuver, which led to the widespread hiring of women for this burgeoning field.

Today, there are male food stylists, but women still dominate the scene. They're expected to have a culinary background and be willing to "pay their dues," as they work their way up from intern to assistant to lead stylist. Not everyone is cut out for it, professional food stylist Shellie Anderson told Mental Floss. "You have to be able to cook, but you still have to be creative. And you have to be able to work fast and under pressure."

Why food stylists order so much food

Ice cream melts and sometimes it takes 50 takes to get a scene right, which necessitates a bunch of backup entrees. So, it only makes sense for food stylists to have plenty of extra servings on reserve for shoots that go on and on.

Food safety is another reason that stylists have plenty of extra stock on hand, however. Scenes featuring temperature-sensitive foods are especially critical because no one wants to be the stylist who accidentally gives an actor food poisoning. Food stylist Chris Oliver requires all employees to maintain a food handler's license, a practice that has benefited her repeatedly. "People trust my food," Oliver told Mental Floss. "I've done a bunch of movies with Reese [Witherspoon] because she knows that if I'm on set, the food is safe to eat."

To become a food stylist, Food & Wine recommends getting a culinary education first. Then, apprentice under an experienced stylist to learn the many tricks of the trade and gain experience. A little time and elbow grease should produce a truly mouth-watering resume and portfolio that are literally fit for a star!