Customer Reviews: Food Presentation Secrets: Styling Techniques of Professionals
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on June 18, 2011
My husband is a chef and I bought this for his use and for me to learn more about food presentation. The book's techniques for decoration and the illustrations are very good and helpful. They provide a lot of information and helped me imagine more and better ways to present the food. I would have rated this book higher but the recipes that are provided are wrong in many cases .

We first noticed a problem when we were making the fruit in jelly dessert on page 101. My husband said it looked like it called for too much gelatin for the amount of liquid. He did some calculations on the quantities and was sure this was the case. We went ahead and followed the recipe to the letter and the jelly turned out extremely hard. Even cutting the amount of gelatin to half was still too much.

We then made the tuile paste from page 162. When we baked it it turned into a runny, unusable mess. My husband then started going through several of the recipes and noticed more errors. For example, on page 164 the red bell pepper sauce recomends running it through a sieve withou mentioning the need to puree the ingredients first.

I am lucky to have a professional chef in the house otherwise I would have been very frustrated trying to make the recipes and having them turn out "wrong" when in reality it is the book that has the errors.

The book is still very useful but if you are not very experienced in the kitchen the errors may prove difficult to identify and overcome.
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on June 12, 2010
As a person who gets many review copies of food-related books, I actually went out and bought this one after flipping through it at a bookstore. It's a great volume to have if you have no idea how to create little tidbits for food styling, and it will teach you how to create little flourishes like pastry rings, noodles nests, and fruit twists.

I love that this book has step-by-step instructions with photos for over 100 techniques, and then a few pages on plating, etc. I wish there'd been more photos of plating, showing different styles and even setups that don't work and why, but what's here is really valuable.

Not sure why that other person said the content wasn't good - I suppose if you already knew all of this then it wouldn't be worthwhile to read, but overall, it's a great book for beginning food stylists, home cooks, new chefs and especially, food bloggers who are trying to better their plating and food photography.
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on January 14, 2011
I should begin by saying that I will probably never try a lot of the techniques in this book; many are more labor intensive than I would wish and a few require equipment (such as a CO2 siphon flask) that I am unlikely to acquire. Still, that fact did not diminish my enjoyment of this very nice little publication. I got a great deal of pleasure just looking at the illustrations and learning about how certain things were accomplished. The book is not lengthy. It covers a handful or two of different techniques each gathered under 9 separate headings and the organization is pretty good. There are plenty of pictures of the step-by-step variety which are very helpful and well-executed. Some larger images, full page or half-page, would have been nice but that is more of a casual observation rather than a serious criticism. Prospective purchasers should perhaps be aware that the focus of the book is very much on French and French Nouvelle-Cuisine. Those interested in Chinese Garnishes, or Japanese food presentation techniques will need to look elsewhere. However, most cooks with wide interests will enjoy this book.
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on April 29, 2010
I'm an amateur "chef"...meaning that I'm not trained but I definitely take cooking seriously. I picked this up with the idea that it'd do what it says it'll do: give amateurs creative ideas for plating. And well, it does just that. The step-by-step directions are a cinch to follow, and the photography of the procedures is excellent. I also have the impression that the ingredients being shown are not the ONLY ingredients that would work well with the detailed techniques. They state this is the case, and I believe them. The only reason I'm not giving this book a 5-star review is because it doesn't blow me away. It's great for what it is, but I don't believe it's the only book I'll ever need on plating.
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on November 21, 2011
Food Presentation Secrets collects lots of kitchen techniques that aren't secret but do add visual interest to your cooking. Just don't forget that your underlying main recipe has to nourish your guests.

Firefly Press lays out this material in an exceptionally clean, and photographically beautiful style similar to what you'd expect of Dorling Kindersley. If the ingredients aren't clear, sometimes they're inconveniently located in the back of the book. But the key steps are visual, so the photographic instructions are great. Hobday and Denbury's steps are shown so cleanly that even beginning cooks should have little trouble.

Many of these techniques can be found in other sources, but Hobday and Denbury took the time to organize explanations of decorative items sometimes seen but not explained elsewhere. Experienced cooks might not find a lot of secrets here, but newer cooks will find this book an easy way to add fun to a meal.
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on October 5, 2013
I am a professional chef and have been a culinarian for over 10 years. I have a culinary degree from the Art Institutes International Kansas City and have worked in many high end fine dining restaurants. The recipes presented in this book are inaccurate and do not heed the results pictured. The product pictured has been worked over again and again and the pictures were taken by a professional photographer with a very expensive camera. You will not get the results pictured by following the recipes in the book. There are no "Food Presentation Secrets", plate presentation and garnishing techniques are learned from years of hands on training, not found in a $15 book with neat pictures. I recommend purchasing a textbook on Garde Manger or a textbook on plating techniques. CIA (Culinary Institute of America) has very detailed books on both subjects, you are better off looking there.
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on August 2, 2015
I really enjoy this book because it teaches how to think more critically about plating, and gives ideas that can be applied across a wide spectrum instead of being specific to one dish. This book doesn't just tell you how to make a Parmesan basket or a candied lemon peel, it helps you think critically about why you should add them to your meal, what kind of compliment/contrast they provide to dish, how to create your the table setting, plate, and lighting choices, and so much more.

My favorite thing overall though is an illustrated "table of contents" section towards the beginning so you can thumb through designs and then flip to the page you want once you find something you like. You don't have to read the book cover to cover; jump around to what suits you. There's a nifty time and difficulty identification at the top of each one so you know exactly what you're getting into.

Overall, if you want to step your food game up, I highly recommend this book.
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on May 25, 2013
There's nothing really wrong with this book except that the author spends too many pages at the beginning of the book writing about table settings, dinnerware selection, color coordination of the dining area and so on. It's really boring if you've been cooking and entertaining for a long time. Then there's a tedious section of all the thousands of tools you need. Finally when the techniques come around the book does a nice job presenting and explaining them. I find I'm using other books a lot more for presentation development than this one, but I haven't given up hope on this one. I just needed the information more quickly, with far less preamble. I almost feel as if the editors or the author felt that without adding some front-end fluff the page count would not be sufficient to justify its price. Too bad, as there are many useful ideas and techniques here.
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on September 19, 2015
Food presentation Secrets- the title is misleading. It is mainly about desserts-making various swirly decorations with sugar or chocolate, things I wouldn't bother with. I wanted a book on how to make my ordinary meals more appetizing looking. On the plus side, the book was in pristine condition.
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on June 2, 2016
Not sure who this book was meant for. It's not really about presentation, it's about gelees, foams etc. Definitely not for the home cook and actually not helpful for my restaurant staff. I was looking for a book that would instruct on the art of plating and element placement.
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