Food styling is one of those trades that most people don't hear about. I graduated from culinary school and worked with food professionally for a lot of years, and still had no idea it existed. Its a job that is as much in the advertising industry as it is in the food industry.
Adios cooking for the taste buds, when its an advertising shoot...I'm cooking for the camera. That one element dictates everything about the cooking process. All of the little decisions made along the way are no longer being based off of how it will effect the final taste; the ultimate reference point is now the eye.
Some food stylists don't have a real extensive culinary background but they are still excellent stylists. And thats because in the end it has zero to do with how the food tastes, it's absolutely about how well it photographs. A chef looks at ingredients and needs to see food, a food stylist looks at ingredients and needs to see art supplies.
Everything a chef learns from day one leads to consumption. The way the ingredients are handled, the way they are prepped, its all about it being eaten. Gorgeous presentation can be a big part of that but it is not number one. When push comes to shove, its secondary to someone not dying from food poisoning...not the case on an advertising shoot. We have used chicken on set that was so rotten it would scare the paint off a wall; the camera couldn't smell it and it looked delicious! And in the end, we had to stop several people from eating it once the shot was over. It's amazing how powerful visual appeal can be, that and a deep fryer of course. If something still smells bad after you deep-fry it...run.