As some of you might know through my Flickr photostream or my Twitter, I was hired by Le Fooding to be their official photographer. (The tearsheet above links to French article in France-Amérique with a few of my photos and their official website.)
I was astounded and awfully flattered by the fact they wanted to hire me and this experience was overall, fun and the most unique of the food events I’ve been to. Yes, I’ve been their first party last year but the feel is different. A lot more energy and of course, a lot of people.
Day 1′s shoot was as crazy as what everyone says. Yes, I’ve managed to get some good photos but wow, it was madness from running everywhere and getting acclimated to the set up and the vast number of people. I have spoken to the three Mario Torrisis (the chef and co-owner, Mario’s dad, and his cousin) of Torrisi Italian Specialties in NYC and a few people who know me either in person or a fellow reader of my blog. Great to see and/or meet you all!
I had a chance to try several dishes of what I’ve photographed and liked the majority them. My favorite of what I tried was Chef April Bloomfield’s (of The Spotted Pig and The Breslin) beef steak pie with Bleu d’Auvergne cheese (I enjoyed the cheesy, funk in the meaty, beef pie) and Seersucker‘s Tennessee Fried Chicken (hot, juicy, meaty fried chicken with a spicy kick). Despite the fact I can’t completely enjoy it as the average eater since I have to run around to take photos of a certain people and things.
Most of Day 2′s “team” photos (starting from top left to right, and repeat on other rows): DB Bistro Moderne (NYC), Pizzaiolo (Oakland), Aziza (SF), PDT (NYC), Pulino’s (NYC), Rickhouse (SF), Vinegar Hill House (Brooklyn, NY), Blue Hill (NY), Frances (SF)
Day 2 was more in control for me, at least. Getting a chance to talk to everyone an hour before it’s opened to the VIPs, I managed to get “team” photos (think school/class photos when you’re a kid) of almost everyone except for Daniel Patterson of Coi’s team (they were busy prepping and couldn’t spare a minute, which I understood. When you look at their food later on, you’d agree). Most of the NYC kitchens, everyone is serious but willing to oblige to my (boss’s) request. Californians are very laid back and nicer. My personal favorite ones are outtakes like this one and this; as it shows their personalities a lot more.
For the PDT team (one of the cocktail/mixologist gods, Jim Meehan’s crew), they were fun to shoot with as they asked out loud amongst themselves, “How should we arrange ourselves? Bow, tie, bow, tie? Tie, tie, bow?” Meehan interjected saying, tallest ones goes on the end. Then one of the other guys asked, “How should we position our hands?” Meehan stated, “Hands in the front.” All followed and finally ready to for the camera. It’s another memorable moment.
Chef Patterson of Coi was pretty damn ambitious to serve, generally, five snacks or bites of food and they’re all vegetarian. Vegetable leathers with almond crisps, potato puffs that tries to mimic the texture of pork cracklings, popcorn, and three varieties of vegetables set in its own soup spoon (recalling beet, potato and carrots with different seasonings for each). I enjoyed it and the staff, as you look at them the entire time, was trying their hardest to plate faster since a lot of people were lining up, eating their way along the table.
Blue Hill went for the beet sausage with September vegetables. It’s a juicy sausage that is interactive with the pickled vegetables and condiments as you choose to combine whatever you want on your meat. Chef Barber’s crew was probably the most with numbers as he has culinary school students to work along with his staff. Very professional and arguably the most efficient with getting the line moving quickly.
Aziza‘s beautifully poached quail leg (later on they went with breast as they ran out of legs) with ras el hanout, cherries, and quinoa was delicious. Savory, barely gamy, touch of sour/sweet from the cherries and has some al dente and chewiness from the quinoa and cherries.
Vinegar Hill House‘s dish of octopus, charred lemon yogurt, dehydrated Taggiasca olives was one of my other favorite dishes. It’s very Mediterranean with the flavor combination but some people I’ve spoken to argued that it’s a bit too salty.
Arguably my favorite dish of the night was from Frances: suckling pig confit with summer fruit mostarda. Besides the fact it’s pork (which is one of my favorite meats), it’s succulent and rich but contrasted so well with the tart, zingy mostarda and the touch of bitter bite from the arugula.
Those are my general highlights for the event. All the food served on both evenings were generally good to very good. The men from Rickhouse and PDT were hard at work shaking their arms out for the past two nights serving up their drinks and keeping up with the demand. Of all the photos that weekend, this was my favorite. Something about the chefs’ camaraderie (for the West Coast, at least) extending out and willing to let me have two restaurants staff and photograph them. And I didn’t have to ask.
For the rest of my photos of Le Fooding, please scroll through the slideshow below: