Marlene Forand makes a living cooking food for the camera. The Tampa Bay food stylist combines art, science and culinary skills to prepare dishes for television and print advertisements.
The work requires tools you may not always find in a chef's kitchen.
"We use big needles and pins," said Forand, who has been styling food for 20 years. "Sometimes we have superglued food together. I would call myself the makeup artist for food."
Unlike food prepared in a restaurant, styled food must sometimes last for hours or days. Sometimes it takes an entire day to execute one or two dishes for the camera.
"You've heard the saying we eat with our eyes? It is my job to make sure that food looks so enticing, so delicious that it will drive the customer to order it," continued Forand.
The USDA reported food manufactures spent $7-billion on advertising in 1997. The largest percentage of those dollars paid for television ads. This accounted for more than 95 percent of fast food restaurant ad budgets.
"It's usually really nice, almost airbrushed," said consumer Avery Moseley of sandwiches seen on television commercials.
Forand said her number-one styling ingredient is water. We watched as a blow torch, pins, and lettuce transformed a raw burger into art.
While Forand's work help get you in the door, most consumers agree taste is what keeps them coming back.
"These are just some of the many, many tricks of the trade that we incorporate to make the picture look beautiful," Forand added.