Friday, September 21, 2012

Feastival 2012

Photos From The Night!

The 2012 Feastival was my first. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about the event and I knew this was something for me. It brought the best restaurants and chefs together to showcase their best dishes while raising money for the art scene. The Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe have been apart of the city for nearly 16 years. I know the Feastival will become a staple event in the city to continue support for the arts.

Pulling up to the event there were silver painted performers dancing on the top of the Feastival banner and Audi cars lined the front entrance for show. In the entryway of the Pier 9 venue was a huge flashy disco ball... This was going to be a good time.

The venue was packed to capacity with performing artists, food, drinks, and music. Having the list of restaurants before hand helped me navigate to the tables I was looking most forward too. First up was Nick Emli from Rittenhouse Tavern. I’ve had some of his dishes before, but there always really good. He made Rabbit and Fois Gras Croustillant with Concord Grape and Cocoa. Rich, sweet, delicious!

I tried close to 30 tables but I’m not going to write about them all, just the highlights of the night! I was really looking forward to Michael Klein’s daughter’s table; Miss Rachel’s Pantry which is a vegan cafe that does breakfast and lunch. Her dish was a lobster mushroom Mac N Cheese. The choice of macaroni was a big plus because it wasn’t a skimpy little thing. It was just a bite but would definitely be a hearty meal. R2L was always a restaurant I admired. It was probably the art deco of the restaurant and view but the food is very modern and Chef Stern does a nice job at it. Of course his choice of dish that night was a house made pretzel, smoked salmon, shaved red onion with mustard cream cheese. It wasn’t too salty and had a nice balance with the cream cheese. Probably the one dish I had that night that I keep talking about was Eric Ripert 10 Arts table. They served an amazing roasted pork belly, cream grits, with dashi sauce.  I wouldn’t expect anything less. I was getting thirsty by this point and wanted a glass of wine but I wanted to see what Franklin Mortgage was making. I was there once before and love the atmosphere and the sculpting of the drinks but I’m just too girly to handle them. The bartender at the event sold me on their Moko Collins which was actually very refreshing and served large.

Throughout the night performances were taking place and the music was keeping the crowd moving. My fellow friend photographer JJ was there photographing guests and chefs and producing a live feed of photos on a big screen. There were auctions happening and announcements by some local celebs like Ed Rendell. Also Amstel Light one of the large sponsors had a couple photo booths set up for people to have their photo taken.

Other than the food that night the dinnerware it was presented on was so unique and pretty. Verterra who is a new company, specially to the Philadelphia food scene is a compostable dinnerware that is created from only fallen leaves. There are no concerns about plastics, glues, lacquers, veneers or any toxins to leach into foods. I was speaking with the marketing director after the event and he was very impressed and excited about the Philadelphia Feastival and the food scene as a whole. Being located in New York it’s hard to get to Philly but there is a lot of potential here for them, and can bridge the two cities together.

The event as a whole had a lot of great perks beyond the food. I’m already looking forward to next year and the attendees.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Food Stylist: Harry McMann

Photo Credit: Jim Noble

Harry McMann

1. How did you get into food styling?
                I was recruited out of culinary school by a photographer, who had an ongoing project with a supermarket chain. They were fairly simple shots, but high volume. It was a great way for me to get my foot in the door. I liked the work, and discovered a niche that wasn't being filled at the time.

2. Where do you look for inspiration?

                    I subscribe to the usual magazines, Saveur and Donna Hay are a couple of my favorites. But food photography is everywhere. I can't look at a package shot or a TV spot without trying to figure out what they did.

3. You seem to have a lot of hot/prepared food in your portfolio. How much of that is actually hot? How do you make it look hot?

                It's usually not hot. Room temperature works best for most products. You need to keep it looking moist and shiny, that gives the impression that it's fresh and hot. Also steam if it's appropriate.    

4. What is a trick you use to keep the glasses chilled?

            My usual method is to use Rain-X on the glass and then spritz it with a 50-50 mix of glycerine and water. It works best if the glass is brand new.

5. For your ice cream shot, how long did that stay “fresh” on set?

            The ice cream was fake so it will last indefinitely, I use Cool-Whip which is pretty stable. As long as nobody bumps anything, the photographer should have 30-40 minutes to work with it. Of course if you're using real product, it's a different story.
6. What has been the most challenging thing to style?
            People are usually surprised to hear me say that the simplest things are often the most challenging. Things like peanut butter, or oatmeal are difficult to style with and aren't very photogenic to begin with. When you're working with something like that it could be a long day! I've seen more than one photographer pull  their hair out trying to get a good image of a single strawberry.

7. Do you work with an assistant or is it solely you?

    Both. It depends on the size and scope of the project. For film and TV, I usually have assistants because the day moves a lot faster, and I don't want everyone waiting on me. A good assistant is worth their weight in gold.

8. Who is your dream client?   
    My dream client was one that got away. I was approached once about working on a project with Julia Child, but nothing ever became of it. For me, that would have been the ultimate.

9. For your restaurant clients have they been in studio or at a location?

        Both, but it seems that lately I'm working on location more. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. I can work either way.

10. Favorite thing to style?
                I hesitate to pick a favorite. I like drinks because when they're shot right, you can get some really cool images. Clients seem to like my burgers and sandwiches, also my ice cream. I live in Maryland so I get a lot of seafood shoots. But It's all good, there aren't many foods that intimidate me.

Friday, September 7, 2012

What Is Zabaglione

One of Italy's great gifts to the rest of the world, zabaglione is an ethereal dessert made by whisking together egg yolks, wine (traditionally MARSALA) and sugar. This beating is done over simmering water so that the egg yolks cook as they thicken into a light, foamy custard. Traditional zabaglione must be made just before serving. (There is also a frozen version.) The warm froth can be served either as a dessert by itself or as a sauce over cake, fruit, ice cream or pastry. In France it's called sabayon  or sabayon sauce.  

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.