Good people. A couple of our recent photo gigs have reminded me of why I diverged off of the University path to follow a life in food. I really like the type of people which gravitate to this industry. They are good people.
One of these recent jobs was for the Terranea resort, shooting the chefs, interiors, and food of their signature restaurant mar’sel. In general, chefs don’t like have their photos taken. They are blue collar, 16 hour day working dudes. Or chicks. The day of the shoot, about half of mar’sel’s kitchen staff were chicks. Not ladies, women, or gals. These femme fatales were definitely “chicks.” Rock n roll and sharp knives filled their mojo.
Mar’sel’s Executive Chef was true to norm. The strappingly handsome Chef Fiorelli was exceptionally polite and gracious, but spending time in front of the lens probably doesn’t make his Daily Top 10. However, he knows it comes with the job, and he seems the type of man who does any job to the best of his ability, and with great diligence.
Dirty jokes, taunts of “pictures for mom” or “a second girlfriend” brought out smiles and relaxed expressions, but it was really when the talk turned to food that we felt we were accepted. After the “pin-ups and portraits” were done, we set to shooting the food. Chef and his sous started turning out dish after luscious dish. We swooned over pickles and pate. Talked about the qualities of a great English muffin.
We struck that common love with the chefs and were able to get a glimpse past the polite, reserved demeanor normally given to outsiders. We were able to see some of their inner charm.
Chef kept bringing out members of his crew to see the photos. “Do you mind showing him the last shot? He’s my fish guy,” he’d apologetically ask.
“Can she see the chocolate shot?!”
Their eyes giggled and glowing at images of their food. They were proud of their food, and to see our perspective capturing their dishes in gorgeous light meant something to them.
Maybe it is because we love and respect their craft. Maybe just the recognition of their labors. I don’t know if they would be able to put it into words, but they didn’t need to. It was evident on their faces.
It is kind of weird to me, but I’ve recently just started to make this connection in my life: chefs and cattle ranchers seem to be cut from the same cloth. They’ll both often have a stoic ruggedness, but underneath lies a sort of boyish integrity and pride. Maybe that is why I’m drawn to the food industry now that home is the Metropolis of southern California instead of the hills and valleys of our cattle ranch I grew up on.
Both chefs and cattle ranchers are a special breed. Not saying there aren’t egomaniacs and assholes amongst them. But as a whole, I find them to be my type of people.