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On the other hand, if the patty
hasn’t browned enough on the grill, a little soy sauce can be spritzed on — a
cosmetic touch deemed acceptable even if they don’t do that at A&W.
Once the perfect bun is selected, it
is perfectly engineered. An electric knife is used to trim away any ragged
edges. A hollow might be cut out of the top half — known as the crown — to
better accommodate the lettuce, washed and arranged just so, then spritzed with
water to portray freshness.
The tomato slice is carefully cut
from the “equator” of the tomato so the sides of the slice are perfectly
perpendicular. The cheese slice? Use a blow dryer or heat gun to melt it.
If the “build”, as it’s called,
becomes precarious, just use a thick gelatin mixture to hold it all together
until it gets into the actor’s mouth.
The joy of still shoots with no “bite
and smiles” is that you can coat the bun with paraffin to keep the juices from
soaking into it, or place a bun-coloured piece of round cardboard under the
patty for support.
If the shoot is for editorial purposes,
such as a food spread in a glossy magazine, then things get a little easier.
Real food is still used, but you can pull tricks like using a mixture of
shortening, icing sugar and corn syrup to make fake vanilla ice cream that will
stand up under hot lights all day.
It’s a rarified world, this food
styling, but one that doesn’t seem to harm the appetite. After years of doing
it, Nathan says he still loves his work, and his food, cooking up a storm at
home, although it’s more likely a veggie stir-fry after a long day building
Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning
freelance writer who is going to pay more attention to her “build”.