As I See It
16th Edition January 2012
Our first days after birth are often captured by the camera. No matter how contorted or radiant our young faces are, the 'snap shots' are declared by all to be adorable. The camera will follow us through most of our lives. It will capture trivial or momentous events. It never passes judgment. It always records the essence of the moment.
As chefs we will have used the camera to instruct. We take photographs of menu items to ensure correct plating and to familiarize the wait staff with those menu items.
I would argue that each chef reading this editorial owns at least one dozen cookbooks and in many cases the number could be closer to one hundred. We purchase these books for a variety of reasons. Perhaps we wish to impress. Perhaps we lend them to our staff (bad idea). Maybe we do study the recipes. But it is the photograph that grabs the attention. It is the photograph that triggers ideas. The photograph inspires.
With each edition of Champchefs we introduce a new Featured Country. Our format has been to invite a chef and he then offers a selection of his food plates. There are certainly many stunning creations that we are proud to display: “But what about the Camera?” What about the photographer? What about his contribution to these stunning creations.
When a picture matches the creative vision of the Chef the photograph can be considered Fine Art.
To recognize and pay tribute to the photographer in this our 16th Edition we have reversed the process and invited the photographer and asked him to bring some of his favorite images from chefs that he has worked with over the years.
Kees Hageman is a versatile photographer who operates throughout the world. His career progressed from Fashion to Interiors and Architecture. His art has embraced Nature and sometimes the Abstract. Now he is acknowledge as one of Europe's finest Food Photographers. He embraces and contributes to the beauty of culinary dishes.
Kees understands that the senses must each inspire the other. What you see should create an expectation of how it will taste. He gives guidance telling us that it is important that everything in the presentation is visible. The plate should not be crowded. Use light judiciously.
Kees moves easily in the world of the famous. Each of the three chefs whose plates are featured on our Home page has gained at least one Michelin Star. Certainly he enjoys life yet he has a focus and intensity that enables him to work comfortably with the chefs. He is a Master in capturing beauty.
There is a flip side to every coin so perhaps you will forgive me for moving from the sublime to the ridiculous: A camera in the wrong hands!
Firstly I mostly abhor Food Sections in local and national newspapers. Why don't they stick to reporting on Restaurants with objective stories or report on local news such as Farmers Markets or dietary issues? Why do they have to print black & white photographs of food plates? These photographs are always a nightmare. When trying to work out just exactly what this 'stuff' on the plate is meant to be, I confess that I am often bewildered: "Is that a meatball or is it a brussel sprout?" Probably neither. What can we do about it? Nothing.
Now please give me just one further opportunity to vent. This time not only at the newspapers but at chefs also. How many times have you seen a photograph in your newspaper that displays a group of chefs brandishing a variety of kitchen utensils? From a butcher's cleaver to a 10 oz soup ladle or perhaps the whisk or tongs. I have even seen one poor soul playing a drum with a stock-pot & spatula.
This occurs when 'a staff reporter' along with a photographer drawn from the newspapers 'city pool' are assigned to cover an event. This pair really thinks that they are being creative and the naive cooks willingly go along with this clownish pantomime This would never occur in the presence of a seasoned food columnist or an experienced chef. But it does happen. So my friends be aware and caution your brigade. When they get older they will squirm at the photograph.
THAT'S HOW I SEE IT.