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!
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.
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.
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.
It was so exciting to get the call for a new push Aramark was doing for their annual report and other advertising outlets. They wanted something fresh and to really "raise the bar" on their offerings to potiental clients. They are the 2nd largest in the food business in North America and have clients all over in different capacities. We had a day of shooting food items on different surfaces creating unique environments. Debbie Wahl handled the food styling and Lisa Russell did props. The agency creative flew in from California and Aramark came to the shoot. We had a lot of fun and came out with really exciting work! You can see a little B.T.S. below.
What an exciting end of the year. It’s certainly not slowing down! I had a great shoot with a favorite past client of mine, Alouette Cheese between Christmas and the New Year. They have been putting out some great new lines of cheese and also creating some nice recipes with their products. We shot 2 days in studio photographing some fun and refreshing recipes using various cheeses of theirs.
A personal favorite I think was their brie wheel. It was wrapped and baked in a Pillsbury dough and came out like a pull-apart bread. The brie inside was warm and gooey. If you really wanted to take it up a notch dip it in the cranberry sauce paired with it. It really was tasty and a perfect choice for a holiday appetizer. Another recipe idea was using one of their cheese dips to fill the bottom of glasses then pair on top with some cut vegetables. It’s a cute and fun way to serve it at your next party.
Check out some B.T.S. having fun with cheese! :)
Happy New Year and looking forward to 2017 projects!
A lot of my work takes me to the studio photographing recipes, and advertising work. Sometimes however I get to work on location! There was a new restaurant opening; really the first of it’s kind I’ve seen in the U.S. specializing in poutine. This new concept was in need of some professional photography. The buzz about this restaurant opening was growing quickly and they needed photography for their menu, website, and PR releases. Their current images were snap shots from their phone and were not of great quality. The graphic designer of the restaurant found me and thought I would be a good fit. How could I say no to a fun place like this.
Not everyone is familiar with this amazing treat but poutine originates from Canada, actually where the owners found the idea in the first place. The basic recipe consists of fries topped with cheese curds and brown gravy. This restaurant has taken it to another level with several other combinations any late night go-er would want or even a lunch rush option. We used to day of shooting to capture their different varieties of poutine as well as a couple slider options they were offering. The franchisee that was there mentioned sliders weren’t as popular and were hoping to create a new need for them. They were simple but delicious and not your normal thing you could order. Also another unique and tasty item they offered were milkshakes! You cannot go wrong with a “Tommy Like Wingy” poutine with a Little Baby’s Ice Cream milkshake; heaven!
While we were there and with brown paper still on the facade people were still asking if we were open yet?? I think they will be very successful in their poutine business.
Conceptual projects for me come together through daily experiences and things I see that inspire. I really want to develop some unique “mini” series of conceptual shoots that show another side of my capabilities to clients and potential clients. My latest series Condiments really came together nicely. My vision and what I wanted to accomplish with colors, lighting, and camera angle happened exactly the way I envisioned. Constantly practicing the craft can really pay off.
The list of condiments was an ongoing discussion of just using the weirdest condiments in the world, to unique condiments, then to iconic condiments. I have others on the list and if you see any I should photograph I would love to hear your thoughts!
For this particular series I really want to put together a special promotional piece at the end of the year showcasing these images and include a little leave behind that represents the idea.
What a great crew to work with. This past shoot working with Cheese Connoisseur and Grana Padano from Italy was such a blast. These type of projects remind me how fun my job is! We created various recipes using Grana Padano cheese product for the next issue of Cheese Connoisseur and for use directly with Grana Padano. These recipes showed how versatile a savory cheese can be. Some of the recipes we photographed were quesadillas, farrow salad, and apple galette. The mixture of the melted cheese with these acidic foods really worked well. The cheese itself was good on its own and created beautiful toppings to the dishes. For the photo shoot these Grana Padano cheese wheels and cuts were hand picked from Italy and delivered to the states for this shoot. They take their product very seriously and are proud of what it is all about. That type of passion for food really speaks levels and made the day all that much better. The beautiful cheese rinds were apparent in every photo, so you know to use the best when making these recipes. To finish out the day we did a gorgeous stack of cheeses with a rich slate as the background and a huge rustic chopping block as the base. This translated to authentic Italian.
I was able to try and practice my Italian at the end of the shoot, and sure enough I still need practice.
It’s summer so why not steam some crabs. Old Bay seasoning is the only way to go when making these. Seafood can be intimidating to make but these are actually easy to cook.
Here’s a basic recipe for making steamed crabs:
Add 1 1/2 cups water, lager, apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons Old Bay to the bottom of the pot. Whisk to combine and bring to a simmer. Layer the crabs in the steamer insert, generously sprinkling with Old Bay on each layer of crabs. Cover the pot and steam the crabs for 30 minutes.
I also added corn on the cobs cut in half and fingerling potatoes at the top!
Just wanted to share a quick recap from a recent shoot for New Jersey Monthly! They asked me to shoot this charming restaurant near Asbury Park, New Jersey called Cave, A Paleo Eatery. I’m always interested in different diet plans people choose to live by and Paleo is certainly one many people know! It was great chatting with Chef Doug Stehle; chef and owner of the restaurant who eats a Paleo diet and runs his restaurant as one. The staff was super friendly and excited to see me there taking photos. The restaurant itself used to be owned by a antique dealer and when it was sold to Doug the previous owner still had some items there for sale. It gave the restaurant a unique feel. Also Doug is a surfer and being near the ocean there was appropriately placed surf boards he owned decorating the restaurant! All the items on his menu were dairy and gluten free. I tasted a couple things from the menu and I have to say their desserts were nothing like I had before. Their brownie was so rich and packed with chocolate it was the best thing I’ve ever had. There was also bacon on top! It probably took me 2 or 3 sittings to actually finish it. Also the chocolate chip cookies were stuffed with chocolate chips and the cookie itself was soft just like a homemade cookie. If you make a trip this way I would certainly stop in for lunch or dinner.
How was your Memorial Day weekend? What type of grilling did you tackle? For us we did a nice dry rub spare rib recipe. Color is always important and using the right amount of paprika really makes a difference. These were also on the spicy side, a nice change up from the usual BBQ sauce rub.
-1/2 cup turbino sugar
-1/4 cup normal paprika
-1/4 cup smoked paprika
-1 tablespoon salt
-1 tablespoon pepper
-1 tablespoon onion powder
-1 tablespoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-1/2 teaspoon ground thyme heaping
-1/2 teaspoon ground bay leaves sparingly
-yellow mustard rubbed on base of meat (makes the seasoning stick!)
*Let it soak overnight in fridge
-Baked 300 degrees 3 hours cover in foil
- Uncover and cook an additional 15 minutes
Pesto is a great addition to any pasta dish. Pesto can be high in fat with the oils and pine nuts mixed into it so you have to take it in small amounts. To help lighten your meal use a whole grain pasta instead of a white pasta. In addition to pasta you can use pesto on chicken, crusty bread, or a spread for a sandwich. If you want to have pasta but a sauce that’s a healthier option it’s best to stick with a tomato sauce.
What goes into a basic pesto sauce?
Find a great recipe at Food Network.
If anyone knows me, they know I have an appreciation for good beer. Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, NY has a variety of some of the best beers in the country. I knew of their brews before they became famous with the Game of Thrones specialty beer they put together. HBO came to them with the idea to create beer for the show! I’ve been in contact with the brewery before about working together, and finally the timing was right. Ommegang had recently redesigned their labels and needed updating for their brochure. There are about 8-9 beers that were re-done that needed to be photographed and paired with a food entree that spoke to the beer as well as their restaurant at the brewery. We planned the shoot around half of that because some were more of a priority than others. It was great working with these guys because of the creative freedom in the food styling and final recipes as well as the general prop direction. The shots had to have a rustic feel and clean background if they needed to run text over them. The main purpose for these shots was to update their brochure so vertical shots were needed. Working with my team and the designer from the brewery was a lot of fun and the day went smooth. In the video I included just a couple of my favorite final shots.
*That cheese and meat spread was something! :)
This year has had such a great start. One of my new endeavors has been reconnecting with an old and very talented friend who has developed an extensive business in the video production world.
The photography industry has been evolving so much so quickly taking a back seat would not be the best move. I need to continue to grow my team and work I produce while adding value to what I offer in the end. Motion work seemed like a natural next step. It’s still in the works and plenty of ideas to be story-boarded but were getting there! This is our first full feature video on pasta making. Not a quirky “how to” but more about the romantic view of making pasta by hand. Sourcing the right food stylist, color, and sound really brought this idea to life. I’m excited to continue this and see what myself and the production company come up with.
Video Production: Savvy Video
Food Styling: Harry McMann