12 Dishes That Demand to Be Instagrammed
Talented chefs across the country are whipping up dishes that look as good as they taste.
Photo By: Redfarm: Matthew Taylor-Gross
Photo By: Freeze Factory
Photo By: Craig Richards
Photo By: Cygnus 27
Photo By: Sullivan’s Steakhouse
Photo By: Lockbox Lexington
Photo By: The Pool Lounge: Matthew Taylor-Gross
Photo By: Del Frisco’s Grill
Photo By: Llama Inn, Eric Madsker
Photo By: John Neitzel
Photo By: King+Duke
Photo By: Santina: Noah Fecks
A sense of playfulness and the unexpected is always welcome in food presentation and this signature dish of Pac-Man inspired shrimp dumplings served at Redfarm in New York is a perfect example. If you are shooting in a restaurant, food photographer Matthew Taylor-Gross recommends that you "make sure you double check what’s in your frame" and that there are no distractions such as someone’s hand on the edge of the image or an unnecessary background detail. "Everything in the frame helps tell a story and strengthens your shot."
Creative Snow Cone
When it comes to designing or creating any dish, you don’t have to be a chef. In fact, at the Freeze Factory in Fort Worth, Texas, customers can create snow cones with a variety of imaginative toppings like this dessert decorated with sour gummy worms, peach rings and licorice, and served in a watermelon. Having a good sense of color contrasts and placement goes a long way toward making this snow cone creation a work of art.
Attack of the Killer Tomato Dish
Colorful heirloom tomatoes are an inspired addition to any salad and St. Cecilia in Atlanta makes toms the star of a dish that combines Georgia peaches, basil and feta-burrata whey froth. For the perfect Instagram photo, St. Cecilia Executive Chef Craig Richards suggest varying "the angle in which you shoot the dish. My wife makes fun of my 'God shots,' photos taken looking straight down so I’ve tried to switch up the angle while capturing the colors and textures of the dish."
Shaved Cucumber Salad
Elegance and simplicity come together in this eye-pleasing combination of colors and textures that is the shaved cucumber salad served at Cygnus 27 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. To best capture the unique combination of salad sweet peppers, coconut cheese, radish, watercress, salsa verde and shaved cucumbers, an overhead shot is your best option.
Filet Wellington Bites
Is there any reason why an appetizer, salad, main course or dessert can’t be a work of art? With the right combination of ingredients, setting, lighting and staging, a chef's creation can become a visual masterpiece - beautiful to the eye but also delicious. Take, for example, this composition which finds a tantalizing balance between a handcrafted cocktail and succulent bites of Filet Wellington served on a block of pink Himalayan salt from Sullivan’s Steakhouse.
Chicken Fried Pork Cheeks
One of the most popular dishes at Lockbox, located in the 21c Museum Hotel in Lexington, Kentucky, is the chicken fried pork cheeks which are drizzled with a spicy-sweet Korean chile glaze and served on a base of sweet pea yogurt. The only way to do this dish justice for Instagram is to compose an overhead shot with the plate perfectly centered. Note the striking contrast between the ingredients on the white plate against the black and white marble table.
Foie Gras Ribbons With Orange Chips
Frozen ribbons of foie gras with a paper-thin texture and served with orange chips is one of the signature dishes at the Pool Lounge in New York City and it could pass as a new sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For this composition, Matthew Taylor-Gross found the ideal framing. "Too many plates the same size can make an image boring. Try to use different sizes and props that complement each other."
Roasted Baby Beets
Del Frisco’s Grille is well known for creating new takes on American classics like this colorful appetizer starring roasted baby red and golden beets tossed in a light sherry vinaigrette and served on a bed of hand-whipped feta cheese with fresh mint and orange zest garnishes. To set off the colors of this dish in a photo, think about the color and shape of the serving dish as well as the background color to achieve a striking balance.
Whole Roasted Branzino
In Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, the Llama Inn is considered the cutting edge of modern Peruvian cuisine as represented by their whole Bronzino Patarashca. The fish is served on banana leaves and accompanied by Aji Amarillo coconut curry and other condiments such as julienned red onion. When trying to capture an image featuring several dishes, food photographer Eric Medsker encourages the picture taker to "take risks and be curious. There should always be an element of play and serendipity because that’s when the magic happens."
Lobster Cobb Salad
An innovative twist on the classic Cobb salad, this specialty dish from Grain & Cane in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey combines fresh lobster meat with romaine, watercress, avocado, bacon, grilled corn, chives and green goddess dressing for a memorable taste sensation and the ultimate photo op. Finding the ideal focal point and lighting brings out the shimmering textures of both the food and the serving plate.
Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Tart
Atlanta’s King + Duke restaurant, named after characters in Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, has been winning rave reviews for their locally sourced dishes and open-fire cooking but one of their gems is on the desert menu - the dark chocolate ice cream tart, which is served with hot fudge and chocolate pearls. A slightly off-center angle and reflected lighting bring out the rich dark colors and textures of this stunning dessert.
Santina, which is below the High Line at 820 Washington St. in New York City, is an award-winning coastal Italian restaurant which focuses on fish and vegetable cuisine such as this lighter variation on the traditional eggplant parmesan. Their Neapolitan style version features marinated and flash-fried eggplant coins crowned with a broiled layer of torn burrata and pecorino romano cheeses and a raw marinara sauce of cherry tomatoes, basil and Sicilian olive oil. Food photographer Noah Fecks says the secret to capturing the beauty of a dish like this is "to always shoot with the light in front of you, or behind the dish that you’re shooting. Backlighting always flatters food and cocktails."