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You just knew that those food-porn pics in cookbooks and newspapers were too good to be true. Maybe you assumed that the gorgeous plates were merely the product of good lighting or a great photographer. Well, turns out there’s another paid professional working to make you feel small about your own in-home cooking skills: a food stylist.

In our new Food Issue, Jule Banville and Darrow Montgomery take you behind the scenes as local stylist Lisa Cherkasky, a former cook and a smart sandwich blogger, prepares a plate of shrimp pasta for its moment in front of the camera. Read it. You’ll realize you need a paintbrush and Scotch Guard to make your own food look so good.