The role of the food stylist is to make the food look attractive in the finished photograph. The time and effort a stylist takes to carefully and artfully arrange the food is the cause of differences between the way the stylist presents it and the way a home cook or chef may. Visual know-how is also a requirement, as is the knowledge of how to translate the perception of taste, aroma and appeal that one gets from an actual dish to a two-dimensional photograph.
Food stylists have culinary training; some are professional chefs or have a background in home economics. In addition to knowledge of nutrition and cooking techniques, food stylists must also be resourceful shoppers. As creative professionals, they envision the finished photograph and style the food accordingly.