They’re not chefs or photographers, but these food Instagrammers are taking some seriously restaurant-worthy shots. TAN MIN YAN finds out how they create #foodenvy.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

They’re not chefs or photographers, but these food Instagrammers are taking some seriously restaurant-worthy shots. TAN MIN YAN finds out how they create #foodenvy.

My Reading Room
Tan Su-Lyn, co-founder of communications agency The Ate Group

“[Thanks to my job, I have the chance] to learn from great chefs, food stylists and photographers. I enjoy applying what I’ve learnt to my cooking. Sometimes, I’m inspired by an idea and pursue it – like a pan-fried mille-feuille of wagyu with buah keluak foam.”

Make it look good:

1) Go for an uneven number of visual elements, and let the plate do the work. “Allow it to frame your dish – don’t overcrowd it. Introduce height or depth, as well as textures, to the dish.”

2) Break the rules sometimes. “Create visual interest by changing up the focal point within the frame, and shifting the image subject to the sides, instead of having it right in the middle of the frame.” 

My Reading Room
Lennard Yeong, engineer

“Some people find [making the eff ort to cook and plate food nicely] a waste of time – especially if you’re just eating at home and cooking for yourself. But I really enjoy it. Every dish has endless plating possibilities. I look to Instagram pages like @theartofplating and @royalebrat for inspiration, and try to learn from the restaurants I eat at, like Corner House and Cheek by Jowl.” 

Make it look good:

1) Use ring moulds of different diameters. “If you’re plating for the first time, this is the simplest way to build dishes which are perfectly circular.”

2) Make use of squeeze bottles. “They’re great for controlled piping of sauces or purees. You can buy these at Sia Huat or Phoon Huat.”

3) Keep practising. “More importantly, have fun while you are doing it.”

My Reading Room
Bella Koh, co-owner of Flea & Trees

“I don’t really spend too much time on plating. I’m more intrigued by cooking and learning new recipes. Some of my go-to recipes that are easy to make and naturally look good on a plate include baked salmon, fried brown rice vermicelli and roasted vegetables with soya sauce – nothing beats traditional. These look great on my favourite Astier de Villatte tableware, which has a lovely ‘raw’, slightly imperfect finish.” 

Make it look good:

1) Use natural light. “I place my dishes next to the window. Food always looks instantly better and more delicious in natural light as it doesn’t look too glossy or ‘fake’.”

2) Have a marble backdrop. “It’s classic, elegant and ages with time. No two pieces of marble look the same.”