My girlfriend recently enrolled in a food photography class at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. She just finished her dual masters, and she felt like it was time to pick up some extra skills in subject that she actually enjoyed. Both of us already have a love of food, and the idea of learning how to capture the beautiful imagery from our magazines was very appealing.
Her class’s most recent homework was to find images of food photography that they liked (tear sheets) and then do their best to recreate those pictures. Most beginners would probably choose pictures of an uncooked fruits or vegetables with a simple background, but not my girlfriend. She rummaged through a few of our old Saveur and Bon Appétit magazines and found dishes that differed in photography styles and lighting. It then became a fun project for both of us; I helped her make the food, and she styled and shot it.
I’m pretty sure she was hungry when looking through the magazines, because she originally chose about 20 different pictures. In the end, she had to narrow it down to three. She chose one from Bon Appétit, one from Saveur, and one from a local publication highlighting a new restaurant at the Venetian. I’m pretty sure the only reason the Venetian photo came into play was because of her love of Uni (sadly the dish came up short in taste when they decided to add a sweet BBQ sauce to a Uni Avocado Toast. That was just sacrilegious of them adding BBQ to Uni… just saying).
Who doesn’t love an ooey gooey grilled cheese sandwich? The first dish we replicated was a perfectly seared grilled cheese with the cheese stretching from one half to the other in the pages of Saveur magazine. The ingredients for this recipe were pretty simple, thankfully not much to search for. We used a cheese blend of grated Swiss and Gruyere cheese. Shredded cheese tends to give the sandwich a better melt and elastic look. I seared the grilled cheese on both sides using a cast iron flat top on our stove; you can use a cast iron pan or a normal frying pan. I sear the sandwich heavily on both sides, while pressing it with another pan on top to give it an even sear, before throwing it into a 350 degree F oven to finishing cooking the inside.
This was the original picture from the magazine
This was our interpretation of the image
The second picture was the uni and avocado toast that we anticipated with so much excitement, until the actual product fell short with their addition of the BBQ sauce. We debated on making the dish ourselves, but the cost of the raw materials and ingredient search from store to store didn’t make sense for a $17 dish. It’s surprisingly hard to find micro greens and edible flowers on a Saturday in Las Vegas.
Here is the original picture from the Las Vegas Weekly magazine
Here is our interpretation of the photo with the actual product. I guess they had a hard time finding decent edible flowers as well, or they just gave us the crappy looking ones.
The final dish was the most detailed one. The selected image from Bon Appétit magazine was a challenge, but one that was so much fun to take. Here we have Seared Steak with roasted Cipollini Onions and wilted Radicchio, and Fried Potatoes with Tomato-Chipotle Sauce and Aioli. The secret to the potatoes was to blanch them, cool them, fry them, and then fry them a second time before serving. As for the steak, I gave it a hard sear on the outside, and then finished it in the oven to a rare, medium rare. The original recipe calls for the steak to be seared and then basted with butter to finish cooking and to give it a glossy look. For time’s sake, I had to sear it and leave it for her to throw in the oven to finish cooking.
Here is the original Bon Appetite picture
Here is our interpretation
I’m so proud of the work my girlfriend has done in this class thus far- even her teacher was surprised that she barely had any camera knowledge before this. Can’t wait to see what we can continue to make together!