If you are already at the CIA, you should look into a class offered by continuing education which, I believe, is called "Food Communications." It's taught by Delores Custer, an internationally known food stylist, teacher and who is also good friend of mine. She also teaches several other related classes and workshops there.
I've been working as a food stylist and recipe developer for the past 15 years after leaving my former vocation of executive chef in the world of restaurants, hotels and specialty foods.
Food styling is very different from food service and the approach comes strictly from a marketing and visual point of view. That is why chefs tend to have such a hard time working with us, as Mr./Ms. Hughes' comment so plainly illustrates. There are quite a few food stylists out there who have little or no formal training in food service, but are very good cooks and excellent stylists none the less.
There is a lot of benefit to be gained by getting your culinary degree and then working in the food service industry for several years before embarking on the world of food communications. The chief ones being gaining a facility with working quickly and efficiently, learning the basics of food science, and practice at preparing all kinds of foods-especially baking and pastry. To be an effective food stylist it is essential not to specialize in one style of cuisine, but to know the styles, traditions and disciplines of many.
I can probably answer many, if not most, of your questions about this vocation, and would be happy too. So ask away......, but I won't bore you (or other CTers) with info that you don't need or aren't interested in.
One thing you should know right now is that work for food stylists is extremely competitive and the current economy is hurting all of us. When the economy is unstable, Madison Ave. scales back and does not produce a lot of new advertising and packaging. Therefore, the magazines, due to loss of ad revenue, scales back the pages devoted to all subjects, but especially food. Thus, they reduce the availability of work to freelance food stylists, developers and testers.