Camera eats first: Exploring food aesthetics portrayed on social media using deep learning

Alessandro Gambetti, Qiwei Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


The purpose of this paper is to explore and examine discrepancies of food aesthetics portrayed on social media across different types of restaurants using a large-scale data set of food images.

A neural food aesthetic assessment model using computer vision and deep learning techniques is proposed, applied and evaluated on the food images data set. In addition, a set of photographic attributes drawn from food services and cognitive science research, including color, composition and figure–ground relationship attributes is implemented and compared with aesthetic scores for each food image.

This study finds that restaurants with different rating levels, cuisine types and chain status have different aesthetic scores. Moreover, the authors study the difference in the aesthetic scores between two groups of image posters: customers and restaurant owners, showing that the latter group tends to post more aesthetically appealing food images about the restaurant on social media than the former.

Practical implications
Restaurant owners may consider performing more proactive social media marketing strategies by posting high-quality food images. Likewise, social media platforms should incentivize their users to share high-quality food images.

The main contribution of this paper is to provide a novel methodological framework to assess the aesthetics of food images. Instead of relying on a multitude of standard attributes stemming from food photography, this method yields a unique one-take-all score, which is more straightforward to understand and more accessible to correlate with other target variables.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3300-3331
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2022


  • Food aesthetics
  • Gastronomic experience
  • Social media
  • Computer version
  • Deep learning


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