Culinary Schools Want to Teach Their Students Instagram

October  4, 2017

It’s no secret that food is no longer just for the mouth but for the eyes. Though taking pictures of your food is no novel act, Instagram and smartphones have ushered in a food photography renaissance and chefs have to think about the way their foods look, not just how they taste.

It seems only natural then that a prominent culinary school like the Culinary Institute of America would introduce two new electives to better equip their students in food’s visual language. In a report by The New York Times, the school noted that come next May, it will be offering a class in food photography and another in food styling. The idea is to prepare blooming food industry professionals to be as adept with a camera as they are, say, a paring knife or vegetable peeler.

The courses are being developed by food stylist Kersti Bower and photographer Phil Mansfield. Together, they plan to create a curriculum that allows their students to convey taste and texture through photography. They offer tips like undercooking chicken to give it more life or over roasting vegetables to lend them crisper textures.

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The intersections between dining and visual culture are multiplying as restaurants paint their walls (and chairs and floors and ceilings) pale shades of Instagram’s favorite pink and influencers rely on carefully constructed formulas to capture the perfect picture. The move, on the part of the CIA, feels irreverent but practical. If they are to groom the industry’s leaders, a camera is one tool they'd be remiss to forget.

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Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.