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MasterChef Australia

Weds - Fri at 7.30pm TVNZ 1

Food Styling with Donna Hay

MasterChef Australia guest judge and best selling cookbook author, Donna Hay is the expert when it comes to making food look delectable.

She shared her tips for perfect food presentation with the contestants.

Donna's three essentials for food styling are:

Form and Shape

Try something new. Don't just use the tried and true methods for dicing vegetables or fruit. Think about what will make your dish pop.


Don't add just colour for colours sake. Focus on the fresh ingredients that give the dish flavour.


Make sure to balance the dish vertically and horizontally when plating.

Donna shared some of her recipes and tricks for creating delicious looking food.

To make your pasta dish stand out:

Plate the spaghetti or pasta  with tongs, spin the plate slowly as you lower the pasta onto the plate to give you a lovely mound of pasta

Sprinkle over the meat/flavouring.

Very lightly spritz with water to give it an attractive sheen.

Icing the perfect cake

Refrigerate your cakes. For perfect icing, the cake needs to be cold and the icing needs to be warm. Use boiling water in your icing.

Trim the cake of any uneven bits and use a pastry brush to clear away crumbs.

Drizzle the icing into the centre and work it gently from the inside out using a spatula.

For tasty looking icing droplets, work the icing right to the edge so it starts to drip. The cold cake should set the icing as it drips down the side of the cake.

The perfect layer cake

Get out a ruler and measure the cake to work out the exact middle point.

Score the midpoint with a knife and rotate cake and ruler along to give you a guideline.

Start cutting the cake following your guideline. As you cut into the cake, slowly rotate the cake around until you line up with where you started. Gently seperate the layers.

For even layers of icing, measure the exactly same amount of icing for each layer. Eg, half a cup of icing.

Start with the icing in the middle of the cake, work it slowly in the middle of the cake and work outwards. Leave a gap around the edges of the cake as the icing will flatten out when you add the next cake layer. 

Follow the same steps with each layer of cake and icing but remember with the more layers you have, the softer you need to be when flattening out the icing.  Too much pressure will squash down the previous layers ruining the look.

Fresh-looking salads

Donna demonstrated her techniques for making common recipes fresh and exciting and showed contestants how to make her version of a caesar salad.

She used unusal plating of a caesar salad to keep it looking modern and crisp.

Get the recipe for Donna's Caesar Salad here.

Watch Donna's MasterClass here.