Essential Food Styling Tools

When I work on shoots I always carry with me a toolkit of appliances that are super helpful in giving the dishes the lift they need.
Most stylists will have these and more on the shoots they do but I keep them for when I don’t have a stylist and when I work in venues.
For those of you running your own venue and have to take your own photographs from time to time, I highly suggest you keep a container of the following.

These are your essential styling tools. Stylist and photographers will have a good variety more but this is what I feel you will need most.


Let’s say 3 different sizes to start:
Thin – helps clean away unwanted speckles or spices. This adds a precise finish to certain parts of the meal.
Middle size – great to give a clean wipe of sauce/soup away off the edge of a bowl/plate
Large fan – clean away dry spillage onto the table such as salts, peppers etc. Using a cloth can leave wipe marks that sometimes the camera picks up more than the naked eye.
Brushes are also good for painting a little water/oil onto a certain part of the dish that may look dry or needs a highlight.

Amazon link for paint brushes


They help with a little soakage of unwanted sauce or to give a clean finish.

Amazon link for make-up wand


This is one of my most used tools. A little spray of water onto a dish to give a fresh look.
Sometimes I would use a glycerine spray (1:1 ratio) which will give an even finer finish. I love it on tomatoes and a quick spray on the outside of a cold cocktail or beer glass creates those condensation droplets that we all love to see!

Amazon link for Glycerine


Polishing glasses can be hard work! There is always a little bit of fluff or streak marks left on the glass. Try to keep a lint free cloth just for your shots at hand. They make a huge difference!

Amazon link for link free cloth



These are great to have to hold your burger/sandwich in place. If you want the top of the bun or bread to be at an angle and not fall off! (Just remember to tell everyone there is said prop in the food before they eat it!!)

Amazon link for T-Pins


Great for glassware and cutlery to reduce reflections and in cocktails give a frostier look. Add your glycerine spray on afterwards for that added cold effect!

Amazon link for matt-spray


Some chefs might actually have these tools in their kitchen. I have tweezers which I use loads to move food around the plate. ESSENTIAL!

Amazon link to culinary plating kit


To clean your hands. Styling with hands always comes into play so remember to regularly clean your hands afterwards to avoid smudges or finger prints. Also, don’t forget to dry your hands too.
There are more tools, there are always more! But these will help you most and they will all fit neatly into a little box or vanity bag. 


Roundwood House - Co Laoise

Who are you? And how did Roundwood House come about?

“Paddy & Hannah Flynn. Hannah’s parents bought the house in 1983 from the Irish Georgian Society (they had saved the house from the fate of demolition in the 1970s and spent 10 years restoring it before putting it on the market) and opened it as a guest house that same year. Hannah grew up in the house, left at the age of 17 to study Classics in Galway, and met her Canadian, musician husband Paddy there. They moved to Roundwood to take over the business from Hannah’s parents 13 years ago. They have two girls, Amélie and Lucie, who have lived in Roundwood all their lives.

I first met Hannah and Paddy over two years ago when I called over to do a recce for an upcoming wedding that year. I fell in love immediately! I knew I wanted to do a feature on Roundwood and spoke to Hannah about it immediately. Unfortunately, COVID put a big halt on things but during that time we stayed in touch, always ready to shoot when the time was right. I do believe that the time was right!

We were invited by Hannah and Paddy to stay at Roundwood and I can simply say the experience was unforgettable.

The short but windy road to Roundwood House in the County Laoise Midlands gives nothing away until you are met with the most beautiful view of the manner amidst a magical forest setting. As many have said before, it really is as if you are transported into The Secret Garden, leaving all your stresses behind you.

The magic begins the minute you enter the grounds of Roundwood House and it envelops you like a warm hug.

Read more about Roundwood House here!


Cloud Cafe - Paula, Saoirse & Caoimhe

Paula Sneyd had a dream of opening up her café ever since she was in her early 20’s. Having three children she felt it wasn’t the right time until they were grown up. During those years, she honed in on her skills and worked as a chef in many successful businesses and continued to upskill on her business education.

I was lucky enough to meet Paula and her daughter Saoirse when I started working in Kennedy’s Food Store in 2011. Paula was a chef and Saoirse worked with me on the floor. Her sister Caoimhe worked with us when she finished school for a short time too before heading to study Culinary Arts. We all went our separate ways and life went on, as it does.

In 2016 it was a delightful surprise to see that Paula, Saoirse and Caoimhe had united forces to create Cloud Café in North Strand. Paula’s dream had finally become a reality. 

Their primary focus was to create delicious, healthy food with high-quality ingredients at a reasonable price. They have successfully created a neighbourhood café that connects with their residents and surrounding businesses in a very relaxed and communal manner. Paula has teamed up with the local community gardens (Mud Island Community Garden and Pat Murphy Community Garden) to deliver fresh vegetables and herbs every day.

Cloud Cafe has always reminded me of a café you’d find in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I love how they constantly evolve with their community. There is very much an ebb and flow between the customers and the business. Simply, it’s just a cool place to be!

With Paula running the business and the kitchen, Caoimhe as sous chef and Saoirse as front of house, they make the perfect team. Since opening, they have gone from strength to strength and during COVID they collaborated with local artists and businesses to use their unused space as a shop front for customers. Thus, reinforcing their community vibe.

What type of business is Cloud Cafe?

Cloud Cafe is a small café rooted in the local community. We try to use the best products possible while keeping things at a reasonable price.

Was this a long-standing family dream and how long was the planning process?

We always talked about it when the time was right. I did a start your own business course, a chef course and worked part-time in different restaurants. I’ve been talking about it since I was 20 and it was only much later after the kids had grown up that I thought the time was right. 

What do you love about having a small business in Dublin 3?

It’s brilliant! We love it. It’s just such a good area. There is so much going here. We’d always wanted a place not too far from home so when this premises came up, it was perfect. North Strand is just such a wonderful collection of local families who have been here for years, young couples and families plus a load of small businesses.

What positives would you take from the last 18months?

That our business model is able to survive during difficult times and that we are able to adapt and grow stronger in a difficult situation. We turned our front, glasshouse area into a shop front for local businesses. This was a fabulous way to connect with the community.

What is the business ethos/philosophy?

We wanted to give people what they want at a reasonable price but always provide healthy food. We try to cater for vegans and vegetarians as much as we can. 

What advice would you give to people looking at starting their own food business?

There are so many entrepreneurial courses out there that are either free or low cost. Network as much as you can; you realise you’re not alone in this and everyone is very willing to share their knowledge and help whenever they can. There are local businesses that are connected by WhatsApp groups that are there to support each other. This has been invaluable to us. We are willing to help and give advice to anyone and would be more than happy to talk to them.

If you could have any three people at your dinner party, who would they be and what would you cook?

We would probably just have a table of nibbles and wine. (Too tired to cook ;-))

Saoirse: Anthony Bourdain, love him! Hector O’hEeochagain and my cousin Shauna who lives in Amsterdam.

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