Food styling: Creating Emotions and Perceptions of Taste

7 minutes

The concept of "eating with your eyes" has become an integral part of modern culinary culture, thanks to the recent success of television cooking programmes and the growing trend of sharing images of the dishes consumed on social media. These platforms have underscored the significance of the visual aspect of food, resulting in heightened attention towards the art of plating and dish presentation. Today, the culinary experience is not only about taste but also about visual captivation and sensorial stimulation, capable of evoking unique and memorable emotions.


Emotions and Food: The Power of Perception
The Plate: Space of Harmonies and Contrasts
Geometry and Textures: Multisensory Combination
The Colors: Colour Harmony of Food
Food Social Sharing: Shots and Memories of Infinite Beauty

Emotions and Food: The Power of Perception

Food styling refers to the practice of preparing and presenting food in an aesthetically appealing way. Whether for photographic or advertising purposes, or as an integral part of the culinary experience itself, the value of this practice lies in the combination of colours, textures, and shapes, capable of transforming a simple dish into a visual masterpiece. Dishes prepared in this manner have the power to evoke intense emotions and engage all five senses, giving life to a new culinary perspective where food becomes a complete and multi-sensory experience.

Even the most skilled chefs recognise the importance of plating as an essential element of their culinary art. In addition to creating exceptional flavors, they increasingly focus on the creative presentation of dishes. From strategically positioning secondary ingredients to selecting textures for sauces, every detail is crafted to meet customers' sensory and experiential expectations. Each dish tells a story, serving as a portal to explore and understand the gastronomic world and the creative philosophy of the chef-artist.

Food styling serves as a catalyst for creativity and imagination. Through visual appeal alone, dishes narrate experiences, evoke physical sensations, and trigger memories and emotions from the past. As a result, visual perception becomes indispensable for those aiming to convey concepts and emotions through food. By leveraging the art of table setting, the arrangement of food geometries, and the strategic use of colour, the culinary experience undergoes a transformation, breathing life into dishes that are truly "emotional”.

Let's explore the key aspects to consider in creating visually emotional dishes.

A delightful dish that demonstrates the power of visual perception
The power of food visual perception

The Plate: Space of Harmonies and Contrasts

The mise en place encompasses the complete setting of the table, including textiles, glassware, crockery, cutlery, and decorative elements. It serves as the culinary backdrop, framing the dish as a work of art, and therefore must harmonise with the surrounding environment and complement the aesthetics and sensory experience of the foods presented.

If the mise en place represents the framework of the work, the plate acts as the blank canvas on which to create: offering infinite possibilities waiting to be enriched by nuances, lines, and flavour compositions. The choice of plate shape can enhance the dish and assist the chef in conveying the desired narrative.

A round-shaped plate naturally positions food in the central area, following the curved and soft lines of the container. Opting for a round plate highlights dishes where a particular ingredient is the focal point of the experience, drawing attention to it in a harmonious and elegant manner.

On the other hand, choosing a square plate provides the opportunity to create a distinct spatial division, whether into two or four parts. This shape instills a sense of breadth and depth, allowing various ingredients to stand out. Additionally, the square plate allows for creative food arrangements, alternating between empty and full spaces to generate a visually striking contrast.

Rectangular or oval plates have the capacity to narrate each phase of a tasting journey. These shapes enable the dish to be presented as a story, strategically positioning ingredients to be consumed in a deliberate order, thus enhancing their gustatory combination.

Geometry and Textures: Multisensory Combination

The shape of ingredients can evoke a range of emotions, from harmony to unexpected amazement. Geometries reminiscent of figures such as circles, spirals, and ovals convey a sense of delicacy and comfort, while those based on rectangles or triangles create intriguing visual contrasts. Contemporary trends advocate for the fusion of opposing geometries and the practice of "Trompe l'oeil," where common ingredients are transformed to imitate others, creating a visual illusion that makes food a source of unexpected wonder.

Texture, or consistency, represents the tactile sensations experienced during tasting. Softness, friability, crunchiness, and viscosity are some of the textures found in dishes. Each texture lends a unique visual and sensory interest to the dish: a velvety sauce envelops with its creaminess, while a crunchy element adds boldness to the composition.

In texture selection, strategic combinations play a fundamental role. Contrasts between different consistencies create an unusual and compelling taste experience. For example, combining a soft element with a crumbly one generates an enveloping contrast of sensations, arousing surprise and interest during tasting.

Geometry and texture create delightful visual contrasts
Geometry and texture create delightful visual contrasts

The Colors: Colour Harmony of Food

One aspect that profoundly influences the perception of a dish is its colour. It represents not only a mere aesthetic element of food but also a powerful catalyst of emotions and a determining factor in the perception of flavour itself.

To fully exploit the potential of colours in food presentation, it's beneficial to consider the psychology of colour—a discipline that explores the profound connection between colours, humans, and emotions. Each colour carries a meaning and a specific connection with certain brain regions, capable of evoking emotions or particular moods. For instance, warm colours like red, yellow, and orange create feelings of comfort, pleasure, and satisfaction, while cold colours such as blue or green impart freshness and lightness to dishes.

Moreover, the chromatic perceptual dimension has the power to create predictive expectations about food, anticipating its actual taste and enhancing its attractiveness. By establishing a connection between colour, memories, or unconscious mental associations linked to everyday foods, it's possible to perceive the five fundamental flavours solely through sight. This means a dessert with warm tones might be perceived as sweeter than the same dessert if it were yellow, or how the green colour of a first course can evoke the idea of nutrition and consistency with a healthy and balanced diet.

In the practice of plating, it's essential to evaluate colour combinations. Following the principles of Itten's "Colour Theory," the colours of dishes can be coordinated based on associations between primary colours (red, blue, yellow) and secondary colours (orange, purple, green). A dish might be vibrant thanks to the energy of complementary contrast between red and green, or it could convey a sense of delicacy using the calm coherence of similar shades such as yellow and orange.

By harnessing colour and creating an armochromy of food, it's possible to transform the culinary experience into a multi-sensory journey that engages both taste and sight, enriching the overall pleasure of tasting and stimulating satisfaction across all five senses.

Green dishes have the power to evoke concepts of lightness and healthiness
Green dishes have the power to evoke concepts of lightness and healthiness

Food Social Sharing: Shots and Memories of Infinite Beauty

When a visually captivating dish is served at a restaurant, detailed photos are often taken to share the culinary masterpiece on social media platforms. Similarly, when hosting intimate dinners at home, we strive to enhance the presentation of our dishes, creating captivating, delicious, and shareable culinary creations for our guests. This not only delights the palate but also stimulates the senses visually. Restaurants and homes alike become galleries, where the creativity of culinary artists breathes life into dishes that are immortalised through photography, akin to the most renowned paintings, thus etching an unforgettable gastronomic moment into the memories of diners.

To assist individuals in achieving this culinary goal, Unox Casa introduces "Cook Like a Chef": a digital platform seamlessly integrated with smart ovens, guiding users through every stage of their culinary journey. From dish preparation, aided by personalised chef assistance, to instruction in the art of visual composition, the platform's comprehensive support enables anyone to master the skill of emotional food presentation. This guarantees the ability to astonish guests and create an atmosphere of intimacy and conviviality.

Discover why Cook Like a Chef is the ideal tool to delight your guests


The art of visually composing food proves to be invaluable not only for professional chefs but also for home cooking enthusiasts seeking to surprise their guests with unforgettable dining experiences. Through food styling practices, dishes are elevated with both aesthetic and emotional value. Each plated creation aims to amplify the true evocative potential of food: by seamlessly connecting the positive emotions evoked by both sight and taste, a mere glance at a dish in the future will conjure the fondest memories of the past.

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