We were living in Korea and I was going to an American school.
I can’t remember my teacher’s name.
But I can remember the day when my teacher, whose name might have started with a G, was writing on the blackboard and explaining that a desert only has one “s.”
But a dessert has two, because you always want more dessert than desert.
She was right. I have always wanted more dessert than desert… or anything else really.
But today I learned that after spending all day photographing just five desserts, for the Town Hall cook book, eventually, even I did not want more dessert… well at least for a few hours. Knowing that I wasn’t permanently cured of my insatiable sweet tooth, I boxed up the leftovers and took them home, so I would be prepared when the cravings for more dessert returned.
Huge thanks to my very stylish and talented friend, Bridget, for making the day and process so much sweeter.
When I pick up a book or a magazine with lots of photos, I usually open it up at the end and flip the pages backwards until I end up at the beginning of the book. While not conducive for reading novels, this dyslexic behavior is a handy tool to have because that is how my blog posts may be shared from now on.
This summer, work exploded for me.
I have seen and done so many fun things, but I haven’t had time to share any of it because I can barely keep up with the editing.
I am not complaining. Instead I feel very lucky and very grateful to be so busy.
But because I am so far behind, I don’t know where to start with my blog posting…. so I will resort to my backwards book flipping habit and start at the end of the book, which means tonight’s photo shoot, and we’ll see how far I can get.
Tonight Arann and I went to San Francisco on a working date.
I have finally started photographing for the Town Hall cook book, which is actually a cook book about all three of their restaurants, and it is actually a cook book about cooking with platters, pots and pans, but they want to include some photos of the restaurants as well.
And because I had never been to the other two restaurants, tonight we went to Anchor and Hope and to the Salt House to get a feel for the restaurants.
My goal for tonight was simply to try and capture the feeling of these two very different restaurants for the book.
So that was it… it was just a start, but it was a fun start. And the perks of photographing in restaurants for cook books… the food, drinks and service are so amazing. I had the best salad of my life tonight at the Salt House. I highly recommend both restaurants for any kind of date.
I am excited for my friend Rebecca, because this week she got pigs at the garden she runs in Sonoma.
Thinking about her pigs stirs up all my pig memories, and gives me an excuse to post an assortment of random photos in an attempt to stay true to my Rolleiflex Advent Calender.
It makes me think about the most incredible pigs I have ever met, who lived at Parducci Winery. They would chase each other just like dogs, play king of the castle on their deck, roll over to have their bellies scratched, and run in and out of the water as their caretaker sprayed them with a hose to keep them cool. They changed my perception about pigs forever.
And it reminds me of the amazing stories Novella Carpenter tells in her awesome book, that you should read if you haven’t yet, about her crazy adventures raising pigs in Oakland, and then coming to terms with butchering them, and ultimately her complete joy while eating the meat she worked so hard to raise.
Which makes me think about the photos that I took at Town Hall last summer and how beautiful ham can look, let alone taste.
And finally it reminds me about my best friend, since 5th grade, Betsy, who has given me an assortment of pig gadgets and gizmos for the last 20 years. It all started when we met a girl at basketball camp. After we introduced ourselves to her, she said, “Betsy, I have a pig named Betsy. I go out in the yard and call, ‘Suuuu-weeee,’ and she comes running.” You can imagine the joy that gave me then, and still gives me now, every time I tell that story.
I could keep going with the pig memories, but that is enough about pigs for now.
Congratulations, Rebecca. I can’t wait to meet them soon.
In my interview for a book proposal with the guys responsible for Town Hall, a restaurant in San Francisco, one of them asked me, “So, are you a food photographer, is that what you do?’
I said, “No, I photograph people.”
Maybe that isn’t the best response when you are interviewing to take photos for a cookbook… but I am a horrible liar.
I explained that I photograph people, but because I lived on a farm for a year and a half, I have taken photos of food, but usually, that food is still on the farm and being held by the farmer. I showed them what food photos I have and they agreed to give me a chance, because they like “messy.”
I was not offended. I would say my photos are pretty messy. I don’t do much fussing or arranging; I just take the photos.
That being said, on the day of the shoot, I suddenly got nervous when Mitch asked, “So what do you want to do?” I didn’t have any preconceived ideas. All I knew was, I was supposed to show comfort food in a comfortable and urban setting… which was the restaurant. I started thinking that I needed a stylist, I couldn’t do this alone… and I needed lights… but I didn’t have either of those.
So, I took a deep breath and gave myself a pep talk and started looking for good spots of light throughout the restaurant. All we needed for the proposal were eight photos… I could do eight photos.
After I relaxed, and the food started coming, and the fog started burning… it all came together. I had lots of fun and I felt really good about what we accomplished. But the best part of it all was I got to eat that bowl of yumminess at the bottom. Toffee, chocolate and butterscotch equals pure comfort in my book.
On June 16th, I was in San Francisco hanging out in the kitchen of the restaurant Town Hall, so I could have a better understanding of the food and space for our upcoming photo shoot for their book proposal. When, Mitch, one of the owners and chefs, suggested that I come down and take a photo of him and his brother Steven, with their former employer, Wolfgang Puck, at the restaurant Postrio, in Union Square.
I didn’t know much about Postrio, I had never been there before, and I am not the most knowledgeable when it comes to celebrities. I had heard of Wolfgang Puck, but I couldn’t really tell you much about him either… so I didn’t really know what to expect. I only knew what I was told, which was: this was a restaurant that had been open for some time and they were having two closing dinners… tickets for the occasion sold out in 30 minutes… and there were very long waiting lists to get in.
So I showed up and took a few photos of the chefs prepping for the night and then decided to head home for the day.
As I got my things ready to leave, Steven informed me that Wolfgang said they would pay me to stay for the rest of the night and the next night too, if I would take photos of this important occasion. Mentally, logistically and physically I was not prepared for this assignment. I did not have enough memory cards or a flash, and I was wearing jeans in a very formal restaurant… but I could sense this was an important occasion that needed to be documented… and that I had a very unique opportunity… so of course I said yes.
And my sense was right… it was a pretty incredible bittersweet reunion filled with very hard work, lots of white chef coats, old friends and colleagues, dedicated patrons, sweat, conversation, tears, hugs, laughter, celebrities, lots of wine and good food.
My favorite part of the night was meeting the different generations of amazing chefs who worked at the restaurant over the years and who now live all over the country and run their own restaurants. These chefs returned to Postrio for the finals nights and worked for free, just to be a part of this occasion.
I also met customers who had been coming every Saturday night since the restaurant opened and waiters who had been working there for the same amount of years. I met my first celebrity, a very nice and humble man, who has not been affected by his popularity, and who made so many people smile as he walked around and talked to every person in the room. And I got a glimpse of other local celebrities, including the former SF Mayor Willie Brown, with his entourage, and the William of William and Sonoma.
It was a real community… built around good food and wine. The room was filled with people who knew and loved each other.
I have worked in quite a few restaurants, but there is not a single one that I would ever want to return to, even if it were closing down forever. I was told it was the end of an era for San Francisco, and after my two nights at Postrio, I certainly believe it.
This is Sandra Gowan, the town clerk, and Mayor Gene Snow. And in Reidville, the fight is on and they are begrudgingly leading the fight because the fight involves the “Z” word…..zoning.
Reidville as it has been known for over 200 years is on the brink of being swallowed by subdivisions. Countryside lost. People are upset. No one wants change but no one wants zoning laws. In this county people want to be left alone. Do not try and tell someone what to do with their land…..but don’t put a subdivision next to my house either…..we want to keep the cows……but we want the right to claim the money that we can get for selling our land. The nation is in a housing crisis, but not in Spartanburg County. Developments are popping up on every corner. The old people are dying and the kids are selling.
It is a common story but in Reidville, the fight is on.