Food as Art

By Susan E L Lake


One of the things I find myself photographing on my travels (even brief trips to a local restaurant) is food that is served to me. Some folks ask “How come?”. I’m always taken aback because it seems so obvious to me, but then upon reflection, I realize it is not. But I do have very good reasons to carry my phone to dinner with me each night and even at breakfast. It’s because beautifully plated food is art in its own right. The chef or even an ordinary cook has taken the time to carefully place food in such a way that it is not only beautiful to eat but lovely to behold. For me it’s one of the delights of cruising. 

Oh my. Even the carrots and celery look appealing here. And I still remember the stuffed grape leaves.

One of the things I often photograph are flowers in my yard. Yes, they are pretty, but they are also temporal. That bloom will never appear again in the same way. By taking a picture of it, I capture that ephemeral moment. Food plating is exactly that. Within moments, the plate too beautiful to eat is disturbed with my first “bite” of fork. No longer is the perfect symmetry apparent. No longer are the complementary colors separated just enough to create impact. If I don’t record that event, it will be lost forever.

If only I could make my nachos look this good. 

Often real effort is made to make food look as good as it tastes. When that doesn’t happen, I have to admit to being disappointed. On a recent cruise that was brought home to me far clearer than I expected. The food I was served was good (often very good), but I found myself dissatisfied.  I couldn’t figure out why. I was not going hungry that’s for sure. The food was hot and tasty. But it wasn’t pretty. 

This was actually a tasty pasta dish, but the image surely doesn’t make one believe it.
Once again, this tasted good but it lost so much “in translation.” It makes one believe someone just tossed the cucumbers onto the plate.

A secondary reason to record “food art” is that it also gives  me a record of “ideas” to try at home. I’m not a good “plater” so I need all the help I can get. Reviewing what others have done gives me ideas to try at home. They act as great models and I think I’m actually getting better at it.

I know not everyone is “into” vegetarian breakfasts, but this could be the reason to convert.

 Meanwhile, I’ll continue to capture food for the eye as well as taste buds.

I so didn’t want to put a fork into this delicious to behold crab cake.


  1. I totally agree with you. And, I know great chefs do too. You hear them talk about “plating” and how important it is. I was never good at it. Probably because back in the day of feeding a household of six, our everyday meals were buffet-style. Holiday meals were always “family style”. No plating.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s