Despite the crazy snow we had the shoot must go on! Reynard; a great restaurant in Brooklyn below the Wythe Hotel, and steps from The Brooklyn Brewery. I got to work with the new chef Christina Lecki who worked under April Bloomfield in the past. The kitchen has an amazing wood-fired hearth perfect for photo backdrops. Chef Lecki is really experimenting with simple, meaningful dishes packed with honest flavors. Keeping it simple I feel is always best and not going crazy with 100 ingredients for a dish. We were there capturing all her new dishes which are seasonal. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so there was quite the array of food. My personal favorite was the Socca dish. Runner up was the bone broth soup poured table side. Delicious! Especially with the snow falling outside. The plates were made by Jono Pandolfi which had some weight and earthiness to them, tying in great with the food palate. If you haven’t been here in the past make sure to stop by soon!
I’m not a crazy drinking girl; at least since I turned 21… A Dry January has been a thing for a little while and I’m sure people were doing it before the internet came around. Dry January is essentially putting down the alcoholic drinks for 1 month. January seems to be the best time to do it, after the holidays, it’s a new year and a new you! Why not start it off healthy. That’s exactly how I feel and being a health nut anyway it made sense.
There are plenty of articles out there that explain it’s roots and benefits, one being here: https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2017/alcohol-dry-january-fd.html
My personal goals and journey though January have been positive and I do feel I see a difference. One thing that stands out for me is my skin/face isn’t so red, and dry. Alcohol actually dehydrates your skin! I don’t feel bloated in the morning. Sometimes I would after drinking with dinner. Sleep is a big plus for me! I do like my sleep and being healthy a good night sleep is a must. Not drinking improves it even more for me. I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night if I had a drink and be impossible to fall back asleep. Overall the month of dry is something I don’t mind and enjoy. I don’t drink a lot in the first place but this yearly routine centers me and gets me ready for the rest of 2018. After doing this in the past I’ve really curbed my drinking and stick to it with just a couple drinks on the weekends.
Are you ready? Pick any month and just keep note of how you feel and interact with people.
I know we all love hummus but do you want to kick it up a notch? Use beets! Especially in the cold months where are body needs immune-boosting nutrients, beets are high in vitamin C, and potassium. We had a much earlier recipe posted using the greens of the beets which also are very healthy. So all around it’s a great vegetable to cook with.
This recipe is super easy and not much different than your average hummus recipe with chickpeas. What’s great about hummus is you can really cater it to your specific taste so have fun.
• 2 small roasted beets (peeled)
• 1 15-oz. can (1 3/4 cup) cooked chickpeas, mostly drained
• zest of 1 lemon
• juice of 1/2 a large lemon
• healthy pinch salt and black pepper
• 2 large cloves garlic, minced
• 2 heaping Tbsp tahini
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Roasted beets:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. loosely wrap beets in foil tossed with oil. Cook through for about 45-50 minutes. Let cool then peel and cube.
2. Once your beet is cooled and peeled place it in your food processor. Blend until only small bits remain.
3. Add remaining ingredients except for olive oil and blend until smooth.
4. Drizzle in olive oil as the hummus is mixing.
5. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt, lemon juice, or olive oil if needed. If it’s too thick, add a bit of water.
6. Will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
I try not to geek out when it comes to celebrity chefs, especially now when everyone is on some type of food show BUT to meet and work with chef Michael Symon was awesome. I was hired for a magazine to capture the new Italian restaurant by Michael Symon called Angeline at the Borgata Casino. The Borgata is probably one of the most well known and visited casinos in Atlantic City with great stores and restaurants within. This new restaurant the locals have been waiting and raving about to open! Whenever Michael would come by the restaurant to talk with front and back of house staff, fans of his would line the windows looking in trying to grab a picture of him.
When I visited they had already been open and had quite the momentum of customers. We stuck around that day for when they did open for dinner to grab photos and literally there was a line down the hall waiting to get in! I’ve never seen that before. I don’t blame them, the Italian fare I photographed and tried was top notch. The lasagna was perfect with its layers of meat and sauce, the artichoke heart appetizer was so tasty, the mozzarella was the freshest, the list can go on. Working with Michael was great, he was down to earth and a good honest cook. We captured some lifestyle shots of him slicing meat, and some environmental portraits of him in one of the dining rooms.
The staff of Borgata that helped with the shoot were very welcoming and clearly took hospitality seriously. I highly recommend checking out the Borgata casino if you’ve never been. Even if you don’t gamble go for the stores and stay for the food.
Chestnuts roasting on a open fire might work for some but the oven works just as good. I’ll get into that in a minute but first want to talk about these unique treats. Weeks leading up to Thanksgiving the holidays start filling our heads and seasonal dishes filling our stomachs. A favorite past time treat are roasted chestnuts. To some this seems like a foreign food and only know of it by the famous Nat King Cole melody but chestnuts and the trees they come from date back to the 1900’s in the United States. The American Chestnut Foundation in the early 1980’s wanted to revive the nut in all its glory especially since a terrible fungus earlier destroyed a large amount of the forests containing these trees.
Around the holidays in the US you can find street vendors roasting the chestnuts and selling by the bag. This method of using chestnuts is also vastly popular in Europe!
How I roast chestnuts is I start with the flat side down on a cutting board and make an “X” slit through the skin of the nut. Then I briefly soak the nuts in hot water then drain and dry. Once they are dried I toss the nuts with melted butter, salt, pepper, and sage. I lay them out on a foil lined cookie sheet gathering the edges to create a large opening around the chestnuts. I roast in the oven at 425 degrees for 35 minutes. The skin where you made the “X” should be peeling back. Once removed from the oven let rest till you can touch them and peel back the skin. You want to eat the meaty, buttery inside of the nut.
These nuts can go bad so when shopping for them make sure the skin doesn’t have blemishes. An ideal nut is a vibrant chestnut color, and smooth.
This was such a fun day and everything went smoothly. I can’t stress enough how important pre production to a photo shoot really is. The more planning, communicating with agency, client, and team the better the day will go. We finished our shoot on time if not a little early! Also it’s really nice when you have two amazing assistants on hand. This shoot for Stevia In The Raw was highlighting their newly designed packaging for print ads across many popular food magazines in addition some very tasty recipes using the product. The hero shot was really cool because we worked with Hinge; a 2D/3D animation studio in Portland that created a really cute gingerbread man character that they placed in my photograph for the final!
For the recipes they were all amazing, but I think my personal favorite was the chocolate espresso pizzelles. The expresso buttercream sandwiched between the two pizzelles was so good! Luckily Lisa my stylist made extras, haha! Lisa did a fantastic job creating the other recipes as well. She made the gingerbread butterscotch trifle cups that created these beautiful layers. The grand finale recipe was the chocolate peppermint truffle tart. She had sourced spearmint leaves fresh from a garden that topped the tart so perfectly. It made it picture perfect! Make sure to keep an eye out for my Stevia In The Raw shots and take a minute to see our B.T.S. video.
It’s amazing what you can learn right in your own backyard. I had an amazing experience learning about wild foraging and the “weeds” we see everyday are the beginning of a culinary journey. Cherry Grove Farm had an afternoon excursion on their land with a group walking the grounds, discussing the natural plants, what we can and can’t eat, and what we can do with these plants! It was a beautiful September day outside; the grasses were high so harvesting was easy and plentiful. Some of the plants we discussed were dandelions, elderberries, walnuts, pineapple weed, and thistle. After our walk we took what we harvested back to the farm house and cooked some of the greens we picked. We had ourselves a variety of greens, and worked with Chef Tamara who had some things prepped ahead then paired with. It was a great experience and very useful knowledge if you find yourself in the wild.
It was great to be back at Le Bus Bakery! A long time favorite client of mine needed some new photography for new brochures AND they have grown so much since I’ve seen them. Their facilities have amazing new oven equipment expanding their capabilities on creating fresh bread. They have always had a variety of artisan breads from loaves to macaroons, and burger buns. The talent in their bakery is unreal! No wonder they have such a large spread of clients to the restaurant industry and right to consumers. If you make it out to the King of Prussia area make sure to stop at their outlet store. Yum!
It was a fun day packed with shooting their fresh bread working with their marketing department seeing their newly designed brochure and taking shots to help fill their needs. After we finished with shooting their products we got to visit the updated bakery where they have all their new bakery equipment, updated loading dock, and packaging area which overall makes production smoother, quicker, and easier for the bakery employees. Still putting out that quality hand rolled dough. It’s really great to see.
This is new, this is fun, this is my latest personal project! I wanted to really have fun with this project and challenge myself by going with my gut instinct. In the process of adding motion work into my portfolio I always found the stop motion pieces interesting. Taking a series of still images and sandwiching them together to make a 15-30 second piece was bringing the stills to life!
Going to the dollar store as a kid there are always the memories of the novelty toy section; you know the really quirky toys you could pull pranks on your friends or siblings with. Maybe these would be stocking stuffers. One really fond memory I have is getting silly putty and squishing it on top of newspaper comics and seeing the print go onto the putty. That was magic to me as a kid. How was I going to bring this back to food but still have fun with it?
If you have ever gone into the dollar store you should also be aware of the off the wall food brands and item combinations you have come across. For example: Larry The Cable Guy; he has his own food line, some of which is frozen biscuits and gravy. You may have seen Twinkies flavored ice cream. Another one is those widely toxic colored drinks that come in the gallons. There are some weird brands of food out there and you could probably find them at the dollar store.
The combination of novelty toys and weird branded and flavored foods brought me to my latest project on Dollar Store Dining. The stop motion piece of these really helps capture the life in the novelty toys but gives me the opportunity to take the setup farther and show more humor and relation between the toys and the food. I hope you enjoy; this is about having fun with food!
Some of you may know I was engaged and what felt like a lifetime I finally married the love of my life on July 29th, 2017! My now husband Joe Kitchen and I were surrounded by family and friends at the beautiful venue Power Plant Productions in Old City Philadelphia under the Ben Franklin Bridge. We had an amazing wedding photographer and friend, Jeff Wojtaszek capture the day and I can’t wait to share more photos!! Catering was provided by family friends and where I had my first job in High School George’s Market. The food spread they provided was amazing. We had chicken saltimbocca, grilled vegetables, summer shrimp medley, and penne alla vodka. Cocktail hour had a amazing spread as well with cheese, meats, figs, and bruschetta. We kept drinks easy with a variety of beer and wine. For dessert Joe and I had planned a special spread and something we both love. We had Milk Bar in New York bake up some of their signature treats such as crack pie, compost cookies, truffles (omg their truffles!!!) and for cake cutting we had their amazing birthday cake. SOOO good!
As long as it took to plan this celebratory event the night flew by in the blink of an eye. I’m so glad we had as many photographers on hand as we did. Now it’s memories and stories for a lifetime ahead.
Some of the best chocolate in the world comes from a few places but a top choice for me is Belgium. A chocolate company in the heart of Brussels came across our blog and it was a great connection we had to try their chocolate. They were also testing having it shipped to the states so it was delivered (perfectly) to our NY office. Once opening the package we were greeted with a beautiful rich brown velvet bag slipped inside the box and greeting card. The presentation certainly had a wow factor.
The chocolate we decided to try was their Romeo and Juliet Praline Selection. The molding of the chocolate represented the faces of Romeo and Juliet each with their own story card and flavors. The ganache inside was very rich and packed with flavor. What a special treat for the weekend or just because. The passion and talent in Planete Chocolat’s chocolatiers is very prominent especially after having this chocolate. What is great about this company is they do so much more than just make chocolate. They provide tours, workshops, and chocolate demonstrations! If Joe and I are ever in Belgium we would certainly be stopping by.
Of course if your not in Belgium they deliver their chocolates worldwide!
Below are some helpful links to check out:
Another year has come and gone for the Fancy Food Show in New York City. Every year there is so much buzz and energy going through the aisles showing new foods, trends, making connections, and seeing old faces. It’s such a well organized and well attended event I always look forward to writing my follow up posts.
The show comes at a unique time with the huge shake up of Amazon with Whole Foods. Some say it’s a double edged sword with this deal and the show did feel an impact. The idea of efficiency at the supermarket could disrupt the shelf space for potential food suppliers making competition more fierce. On the other hand this could open opportunities for brick and mortar as well as online retail space. Still early so we will see how things unfold!
My time at the Fancy Food show was a long and exciting Monday and into Tuesday afternoon catching up on aisles I may have missed. The layout of the show this year was a little different but in a good way because it was bigger. I always keep an open mind when looking into new products and seeing how innovative people are. One item I came across that really impressed me was The Matzo Project. I have some jewish food clients and I’ve had my fair share of matzo, but when I tried their version is was amazing. None of the dried out taste you get in traditional matzo. This was much more like a cracker and a very tasty one at that. Please check these guys out, amazing! https://www.matzoproject.com/
A poppy brand and nostalgic taste it was exciting to run into Megpie’s Booth. They are New York based but have made the leap in expanding. I know I’ve seen their colorful treats at my local Starbucks but was great to see them at the show too. I tried their blueberry tart which was oh so good. Immediately I felt like a kid again. Really if your looking to enjoy poptarts as an adult this is your breakfast or snack on the go choice. https://www.megpies.com/
Another local find was actually a friend and food stylist I know Olivia Marjoram. She has her very own hand made oatmeal cookies and sweets. The cookies have a great crunch to them and not too heavy. I could have one with ice-cream or even my morning coffee; yum! You can buy them direct from her site or find a some local shops here: http://olivias-kitchen.com/
Miyoko’s Kitchen was a stellar product I came across down stairs. I had a couple booths upstairs raving about it! All the products are vegan but you wouldn’t know it by looking at it. Miyoko Schinner set out to make the best vegan products possible to help that craving of butter and cheese. She had her first success with her book Artisan Vegan Cheese back in 2012. From that point she has produced and sold her product across the country. It was great to have her in NY showing off her amazing products. http://miyokoskitchen.com/
Now I did not get to try this product because the line was really long probably because they had an eye-catching booth and packaging. Also a ton of energy from the staff at the booth. Checking out their produce online it really looks like a all in one stop and shop quality hot dog. I really enjoy the packaging and simple approach to the concept. If you did get to try the hot dog I would love to hear about it. If you want to check it out here is where you can purchase it today: https://denshotdogs.com/#@wheretobuy
Can’t wait till next year; let me know if you will be in attendance and will try to stop by your booth.
Get the latest issue of Imbibe magazine and see the exciting story on Dr. Patrick McGovern; U Penn’s director of bimolecular archaeology project. Using his knowledge and experience in extracting various ingredients used in drink residues all the way to King Tut’s Tomb! Patrick and Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery got to work together on the amazing project and had created the beer we love today Midas Touch. Since the creation of this beer it has won various awards in tasting competitions nationwide. PICKUP A COPY TODAY. Article written by Joshua M. Bernstein.
This year has been an exciting transition to adding motion work to my portfolio. Building a motion section takes time, practice, and the right team to make the story come to life. Working with past clients like the few farms I’ve consistently been with over the years have been a great stepping stone to gathering footage and putting together in a cohesive story. The equipment we have been working with is the Canon C300, Canon 5D Mark 4, additional microphones, as well as various lighting and grip gear. Being on location is a challenge in itself but capturing moving imagery is another. The current piece we are working on has beautiful landscape pans of the farm as well as stationary shots interviewing the real farmers, not hired talent. I know the final cut will pair well with the still imagery I have captured over the years. DP STILLS BELOW.
Here’s a re-cap from my recent shoot at The Standard in the East Village. This bar was gorgeous and just steps from The Cooper Union, another site to see. It’s always great when working with The Village Voice because they really let you be creative with the subject matter for their stories. This was a fun shoot with bartender Natasha Sofia mixing the drink “No Problem” from the menu. I’m not a huge mixed cocktail drinker but if you can mask the taste of the alcohol i’m good to go! Also what I loved about this drink was the garnish. The vibrant slice of orange dipped in a red salt really completed this drink. Read the whole story here: http://www.villagevoice.com/2017/05/17/mezcals-moment/
This idea between myself and fiance Joe has been tossed around for awhile; In what capacity can we work together? We are both commercial photographers specializing in different fields people automatically would assume, "You guys should combine forces and work together!" That is not something we wanted to do. I run my business and have my clients and so does Joe. Ignoring the fact though that we are together and in the same business wasn't going to work forever. We have been able to meet on this idea of working on a blog together! We both have passions for food, drink, and travel and both of us touch on this personally and professionally so it seemed to be a good platform to get started!
After a long couple days of brainstorming we were able to come up with the very creative and catchy blog The Pictured Kitchen
This has been live for about a week and we have a supporting Instagram handle @thepicturedkitchen which we are excited to populate with our personal journeys, recipes, drink tips and tricks! If you have anything you would like to contribute or comment on we would love to hear from you.
Working with a group of creative, energetic, and talented people is what making a successful video is about. The time put into planning, executing, and producing makes that final piece all worth it. These are just some of first thoughts that come to mind working with ad agency Weber Shandwick, my food stylist Lisa Homa, props Kristine Trevino, hair and makeup Ananda Khan, camera crew of Good Boy Media, and talent Amy Castle. We produced beautiful recipe videos of the Alli brand highlighting their healthy lifestyle. The lighting throughout the pieces was bright with a natural daylight feel. We were able to produce this look for the whole day. Amy Castle’s personality shined through in these pieces running through the script with her. In the recipes we shared how easy it is to eat healthy and enjoy cooking! Check out the videos here. ALSO on my MOTION section of my website. BTS Stills by Kelvin Williams
Right after Easter weekend I was on a flight to sunny Tampa, Florida for a week shoot at the new Features Gastropub inside the Riverview movie theater apart of Goodrich Quality Theaters out of the midwest. I was recommend for this job by friend and celebrity chef Brian Duffy. I was so excited for this job, not just because it was in Florida but the concept of the restaurant by Brian had some delicious entrees and beers on tap to try. Something I’ve rarely seen before is they had wine on tap! What?!! I got to work with the local and talented Marlene Forand for the week on executing the dishes and really bringing the ingredients to life. We had fun incorporating the wall signage in the background and making the dishes feel heroic. One of the coolest offerings they had was their Feature Fry Tower. This was stacked high of fries, shaved ham, provolone cheese, bacon, mozzarella and side sauces, yum!! I hope to go back soon and catch a movie in the theater. If you find yourself in the area for vacation make sure and stop by.
This past photo shoot we were doing some new advertising work for Don Julio; a true tequila brand. Having the client there and explain the true authenticity and story behind the brand was really great. The images we captured were really introducing the use of Don Julio tequila with a very popular Mexican drink; the Paloma. It’s a great mix of the Reposado and grapefruit juice. A very refreshing drink on a hot summer day. What was important to the client was getting across the grapefruit in the drink. We tried grapefruit peels and wedges. My food stylist was able to source really pretty grapefruit that weren’t too overbearing in the shot. I was able to enhance the pinkness in the fruit so it didn’t look like an orange. They really like the authenticity in the environment so we added water, condensation, and loose salt.
Food Stylist: Lisa Homa
Prop Stylist: Deb Donahue
With beverage work comes pours and splashes. I’ve found I was lacking some of that in my portfolio and have lost out on projects because I didn’t have that aspect. Getting this integrated into my work was no easy task and there is a lot of trial and error in getting that perfect pour or splash. There are ways to accomplish this type of photography with sound and laser triggers getting it exactly where you want it when you throw your liquid into the air. For my first time I was concentrating on using the right strobe equipment and keeping my setups simple but conceptual that still showcased my creativity but showed an understanding how to get that shot. If you want your pours midair with little to know ghosting on your shots using the Broncolor Scoro’s were the way to go. I used 2-3 heads per shot giving a nice fill light without washing out the clear liquids. Water was the most efficient way to practice and get neat shots midair. I really enjoyed how the final image came out after post processing. The other great thing with Broncolor was I was able to use the Profoto modifiers (personally are better than Broncolors) on Broncolor heads. They had speed rings that could adapt to Profoto softboxes. If you plan to try and capture pours or splashes I’d advise buying tarps from Home Depot and having extra towels because you will make a mess.