Like you, I rarely use natural light for commercial food shoots. I prefer to own my light rather than depend on changeable light. Natural light for food can be great for bloggers but when you are being paid you need to be able to make tiny changes through an evolution of an image and know you will get the exact same light (except for the changes you dial in) every single time. Some commercial studios have professionally designed daylight studios with windows covered in diffusion material with the ability to add additional scrims if more diffusion is needed. With artificial light you can create your own perfect light every time. With good batteries, recycle times are less than a
I'm not sure why you say that it's hard to shape light with a flash but easy with a strobe. Light is light is light. Sure, there are a lot of modifiers available for studio strobes but you can buy (or make) virtually identical modifiers to fit your flashes, whether that is soft boxes, grids, snoots, scrims or strips. One challenge that is evident is the lack of a modelling light. That is the main reason I'm looking to upgrade to studio lights. Flashes does not equal poor equipment. The just get a bum rap due to poor use in many cases.
This was taken with a large softbox behind the pancakes and a smaller one to the front right to add fill and specular highlights. Additional reflectors and lights can be added as necessary to add any accents needed. Some foods need a great deal of tiny bits of lighting to really make them pop. Hamburgers are a great example and I'm still working on mastering them. With strong backlighting, the fillings often fall into deep shadow. Additional lights are needed to bring out the details in the front of the burger. Here is an example. IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/ywMRp9 wardc_150812_0230.jpg by Ward Cameron, on Flickr
I preferred a slightly more toned down front lighting but the client wanted it brighter. I think that makes it look a bit flat but the client gets what the client wants.
As for studio strobes. I'm oggling a few. It would help reduce the experimentation to get the light that I want by providing modelling. Off camera flashes though are light cheap and portable. I will definitely continue to mix flashes with strobes as I build my kit.
Here are some tasty wings: IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/zuFJZZ wardc_150812_0116.jpg by Ward Cameron, on Flickr
and just for fun an I heart wine pic. IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/qxMtNm wardc_150225_4850_edit by Ward Cameron, on Flickr