Vanilla Table

Vanilla Lacquer Duck Leg with Shanghai Dim Sum & Lychee Lime Relish, recipe by Paul Jobin, food styling by Natasha MacAller Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs, by Natasha MacAller, published by Bateman NZ © 2013Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs, by Natasha MacAller, published by Bateman NZ © 2013 Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs, by Natasha MacAller, published by Bateman NZ © 2013Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs, by Natasha MacAller, published by Bateman NZ © 2013 Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs, by Natasha MacAller, published by Bateman NZ © 2013

Following Wednesdays book launch of Natasha MacAller’s  Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the worlds best chefs, the book we spent most of last year working on, and talking about, is finally out in the shops. Today I spotted it front forward at Queen Street, Auckland’s Whitcoull’s right next to Donna Hay’s new book, so that couldn’t be better placement really! Hopefully Donna will help us with the sales!

Natasha and I met when I was shooting Peter Gordon’s Everyday book, back in October 2011. Peter & Natasha has been great friends for years, so I was very honoured to firstly have Peter recommend me, even before his own book was finished, and secondly to have Natasha actually pick me, to shoot her fabulous book project. We started early 2012, where I went to stunning Bay of Islands, to shoot the first 3rd of the book with Natasha. We had a marathon of a week, up to our necks in delicious food and treats, and vanilla coming out of our ears- in fact I’m pretty sure I was sweating vanilla by the end of it. And Natasha got her first taste of what she signed up for, when shooting a book. It’s bloody hard work!

Later, midway through the year, I went to London to shoot the 2nd batch of recipes, and while it’s fabulous to travel around the world, doing what I love to do: Shoot food, I didn’t really get to see much of London that week. Finally back in Auckland, I got a beautiful delivery from Heilala Vanilla’s green house in Tauranga, the stunning vanilla orchid plant and fresh beens pictured inside the cover, and we finished off with the 3rd batch of recipes in November, while I just managed to stay sane, before my wedding in early December.

Finally the long wait is over, and we can enjoy the labour of our work. It’s so rewarding finally to have a heavy copy in your hand, flicking through the pages, and seeing all the ideas we had for look and layout come to life. We wanted to focus entirely on the styling of the food, so decided to pull back completely on the proping, and rely on beautiful textures, subtle tones of white, sand & blue and organic, modern shapes. I think the texture of the fabric really comes to life this way, and especially the feel of the cover. I could’t be more pleased, and am looking forward to trying out all the recipes again.

Unfortunately the recipes are copyrighted, and we don’t want to give away too much, so head down to your local bookstore this labour weekend, and pick up Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the world’s best chefs, by Natasha MacAller. Published by Bateman.

Recipes pictured:

Vanilla Lacquer Duck Leg, recipe by Paul Jobin, food styling by Natasha MacAller, props: black slate tile borrowed from John Lewis at Kauri Cliffs, blue napkin by Fog Linen Work

The Pork Chop, recipe and food styling by Natasha MacAller, props: gray slate photographers own, steak knife food stylists own, Alessi jar and bowl from Simon James Concept Store

Rum & Vanilla Cured Salmon, recipe by Douglas Rodriguez, food styling by Natasha MacAller, props: vintage stilton plate from Flotsam & Jetsam, bowl from Wonki Ware, porcelain spoon from The Conran Shop

The Lobster Roll, recipe and food styling by Natasha MacAller, props: platter by Wonki Ware, napkin by Fog Linen Work

Peach, Cardamom & Vanilla Sable Breton, recipe by Jim Dodge, food styling by Natasha MacAller, props: platter from Freedom Furniture

Scottish Shortbread Sundae with Blueberry Ice Cream, recipe by Duff Goldman, food styling by Natasha MacAller, props: vintage stilton plate and antique chiffon from Flotsam & Jetsam, porcelain for from The Conran Shop

Black and White

Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce Foccacia with RosemaryBaked Brie Peanut Stuffed Rolled Pork BellyHot Chocolate with Whipped Cream Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes

Welcome to the online launch of my new blog, the food photographers favourites. This opening entry is a personal project I’ve been working on for some years now, but as a busy food photographer, trying to set up a business in beautiful New Zealand, there’s not always time to get those projects finished. However, I have decided that it must begin, and end, somewhere, and what initially started as an idea, a concept for a portfolio project, has now developed into this blog.

So, here it begins with a black and white project, something that stems back to my early days in the dark room back in the early 90ties. I have always been fascinated with the contrasts of B/W photographs, and at times I really miss working with the lack of colours. Inspired by Irving Penn and fashion magazine after fashion magazine, I decided to try and translate some of that into my passion and speciality: Food photography. Keeping in mind, that most food does look the best in colours, as these are what makes us recognise whatever the subject, and appeal to our tastebuds. Paying attention to the textures and shape of the food, I decided to pick a selection of my favourite recipes I’ve photographed over time, and named the project “the food photographers favourites”.  Naturally not every dish was going to work well, but regardless, working with food styling in black and white is a fantastic exercise in studying how the light bounces of every subject, making sure that every important item in the dish shines. So by the end of this, it is really not so much about the recipe itself, but more about the basics of studying the light, as any great photographer would.

I send my respects to the queen of food styling Donna Hay, for picking this particular theme for her August/September 2013 issue of Donna Hay Magazine. From a photographic point of view, I think the idea is brilliant and beautiful, and I will certainly continue to explore the contrasts of food photography not only in black and white but definitely also in full colour, sharing some of my favourite recipes, shoots, recipes and other foodie related ventures. I declare the food photographers favourites blog for open!

Thanks to the wonderful people who helped make these images:

Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce, recipe by Jo Wilcox, food styling by Laura Faire • Foccacia with Rosemary, food styling by Laura Faire • Baked Brie, recipe by Penny Oliver, food styling by Laura Faire • Peanut stuffed Rolled Pork Belly, recipe by Peter Gordon, food styling by Laura Faire • Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream, recipe and food styling by Carsten Kyster • Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes, food styling by Laura Faire