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Crafting Culinary Art on Instagram: Insights and Tips from Surabhi Sehgal

Surabhi Sehgal is a Plant-Based Chef, Food stylist, and Instagrammer. She uses natural ingredients to curate colourful recipes which she showcases like art. Having lived and travelled across the globe she cooks recipes from various cuisines. She is especially fond of Mediterranean cuisine as she finds it vibrant, fun, clean and it gives her room to experiment.


How did you start food styling and how did you get into this field?


I started cooking at a young age, inspired by my grandmother. Despite wanting to be a chef, on my parents suggestion I pursued Master's in English literature and later worked in various fields. After moving to different countries, and working many jobs I decided to finally pursue my food dream. In Abu Dhabi about 6-7 years back, I had a lot of time on my hands so I began sharing my dishes on Instagram and gained a lot of interest. Eventually, I collaborated with brands in Dubai as a food stylist and content creator back in the day. After returning to India, for the last four years I have been working as a content creator and recipe developer for various brands and restaurants.


How did your lack of a professional chef certification impact the way people and brands perceive your culinary skills and expertise?


I am a self taught chef. Despite not having a Culinary degree, I have collaborated with restaurants that have hired me on a part-time or freelance basis for pop-ups or kitchen takeovers. And through this I feel like I've experienced a different perspective and my work has been fresh & different every time. This one time in Dubai I had met a chef who knew of my work and told me that going to chef school was going to be detrimental to me as I would lose my uniqueness. He said that what I have is a unique gift and I must work hard to improve my skills.


Did you personally shoot and edit everything featured on your Instagram page?


I handle everything on my Instagram page by myself. I shoot and edit all the content alone, without a team. I use tripods and both my phone and a professional camera for capturing photos and videos. I believe that good composition and a genuine approach are more important than extensive editing skills. My goal is to connect with everyday people who appreciate simple and relatable content. I aim to tell stories that inspire others to recreate recipes and focus on creating content that is both beautiful and accessible.



What are the challenges you faced when transitioning from posting pictures to creating videos for your content?


Initially, I was quite reluctant to make the switch as I had a strong attachment to still photography and the tranquillity it offered on Instagram. The platform has since become more dynamic and crowded with trends. However, I consciously chose not to conform to algorithmic expectations or follow viral video formats that required showing my face constantly or going live. As a result, my pictures started receiving less attention, and I felt the need to adapt and learn video creation.


In the beginning, my videos were shaky as I held the camera with one hand while shooting. Through trial and error, I eventually acquired a tripod and improved my videography skills. Embracing change became crucial, as the Instagram landscape rapidly evolved, and those who swiftly adapted to videos gained prominence. However, as I frequently moved countries and homes, I faced challenges in establishing a dedicated team of photographers and videographers.


While I do miss the calmness of still photography, I recognize the need to evolve and keep up with the changing times. I remain open to exploring new opportunities and embracing the dynamic nature of content creation.




Mung Dal Soup


How do you incorporate trends into your profile, and what key element connects with your audience?


I focus on creating relatable, vibrant, and soothing content that resonates with a diverse audience. My musical background adds a unique touch to my videos, enhancing the sensory experience. While certain trends catch my attention, I hold deep respect for creators who consistently engage with their viewers, showcasing their authentic selves. The allure of ASMR intrigues me, and I'm considering integrating more of its sensory appeal into my content.


How do you manage showcasing a diverse range of cuisines while also keeping your audience engaged and catering to their preferences?


Balancing diverse culinary offerings with audience engagement can be quite challenging. While my culinary background spans the globe, the current demand for Indian food content encourages me to intersperse international dishes with Indian ones. This approach helps maintain audience interest while still reflecting my broader culinary experience. Striking a delicate balance between audience preferences and my desire to share a wider range of cuisines is crucial. I make it a point to occasionally introduce international dishes to excite my audience's curiosity and provide a broader culinary perspective. While Indian cuisine remains at the core, I believe there's immense value in spotlighting the global culinary traditions.

Is it important to have culinary knowledge and cooking skills to excel as a food stylist?


Absolutely, I believe that having a strong foundation in culinary knowledge and cooking skills is crucial for a successful food stylist. Understanding ingredients, flavours, and how different elements come together in a dish is essential for creating visually appealing and authentic food compositions. While one may not need to be an exceptional cook, a deep understanding of flavours, spices, and cuisines is necessary to effectively style various dishes. This knowledge allows a stylist to make informed decisions about garnishes, arrangements, and presentations that truly capture the essence of the cuisine being portrayed.



What are some common misconceptions people have about the field of food styling and content creation?


There seem to be a few prevalent misconceptions around food styling and content creation that I've noticed. Firstly, many people don't fully grasp the extent of the seriousness and dedication required in this profession. It's often seen as more of a casual or hobby-like activity, when in fact, it's a genuine career that demands hard work and commitment. Another misconception is that success is solely driven by personal popularity and individual efforts. However, the reality is that our work's visibility is influenced by algorithms and app preferences, making it sometimes challenging to reach our intended audience. Additionally, there's a misconception that these roles lack credibility as serious career paths. Despite the evolving landscape, with platforms like YouTube and Instagram offering substantial earning potential, some still struggle to view food styling and content creation as legitimate and rewarding professions.


What advice would you offer to aspiring food stylists and content creators?


To all the aspiring food stylists and content creators out there, my advice is simple yet crucial. Slow down and focus on your craft. It's important to have genuine reasons for pursuing this path, rather than solely seeking fame. Find a deep love for what you do, and let any recognition that comes your way be a byproduct of your dedication. Don't rush to invest in expensive equipment; start with the basics and your smartphone. Study the work of talented stylists across various platforms, from Instagram to Pinterest, and learn from their techniques. Begin posting consistently, even if the engagement is low initially. Over time, you'll gain clarity on whether this is truly your passion. If it is, then invest more time, effort, and resources into honing your skills. Consistency is key in this dynamic field, as your online presence directly reflects your commitment. Remember, the journey may not be easy. This industry demands genuine passion, relentless work, and continuous adaptation. Only after experiencing it firsthand will you truly understand if this captivating and demanding world is the right fit for you.




Jamun Lassi Popsicles



Can you provide some essential tips for beginners entering the world of food styling, especially for creating amazing Instagram content?


Certainly, here are five fundamental tips that can make a significant difference in making your food look appealing on Instagram:


1. Choose the Right Props: Opt for cream or white-colored ceramics with a matte finish. These props won't reflect light in a distracting manner, allowing your dish to take center stage.


2. Play with Colors: When styling, focus on enhancing the natural colors of the food. Pay attention to how each ingredient appears in the final photograph. For example, for a vibrant spinach dish, avoid overcooking the greens, or add a touch of turmeric to lentils to achieve an appealing shade.


3. Learn From Your Camera Phone: While starting, invest in a high-quality smartphone with advanced camera features. Master the basics of your phone's camera settings and explore photo editing apps like Lightroom and Canva to enhance your images.


4. Composition is Key: Experiment with different angles and arrangements to find visually pleasing compositions. Remember the rule of thirds and use negative space to draw attention to the main dish.


5. Practice and Patience: Developing your food styling skills takes time. Practice consistently and be patient with yourself. You'll learn valuable lessons through trial and error, helping you refine your technique over time.


Remember, you don't need expensive equipment or professional training to create stunning food photos. Focus on these foundational aspects, and you'll be well on your way to crafting Instagram-worthy food content.




Visit Surabhi’s website at https://www.supaintsonplates.com/ to see her works and recipes.

Food wields immense influence. It serves as a language of connection, sustenance, and self-discovery. Recognizing its significance, we are committed to reshaping the global perception of food. Surabhi Sehgal, an esteemed food stylist collaborating with us to ignite a transformative shift in how individuals perceive, discuss, and portray food.



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