You might be great with lighting and shooting, but for most shots, without a food stylist or prop stylist, your work just isn’t going to look competitive with the big shooters. Add retouching to that, as genius Photoshop work is essential.
The steps involved with food/still life photography:
1) Plan a beautiful shot, based on original ideas and generate comps (never copy a magazine tear sheet and present it as your own.)
2) Hire a food or prop stylist.
3) Spare no expense on props and/or food.
4) On the day of the shoot, light the shot to the best of your ability. THINK like a retoucher: Shoot the scene without any food or props in it, as this can be the base layer for your retoucher. (Note: make sure if your background is not in focus in your final shot, that you take a shot of the background in-focus for the retoucher.) If there are multiple dishes or props in the shot, consider shooting each one individually to comp together to make your shot in post.
4.5) Shoot Variations: i.e. Glass of iced tea with the straw, without the straw, with the lemon, without the lemon, with a different glass etc., etc., etc.