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Archive for the ‘Shoots’ Category

Recently I was asked to style a feature for BBC Good Food Magazine, ‘A Day in the Life of a Kitchen’. The venue chosen was the new Sapori Di Bice on Citywalk, Jumeirah. It is a large, bright, airy restaurant, with a welcoming atmosphere. The latest venture of the Bice group, Sapori Di Bice is more family friendly offering all day dining from breakfasts to lunch, tea and cakes, gelato and of course dinner. They do kids parties where kids can go up to the large pizza counter and make their own pizzas! They are even introducing gluten free pastas and organic mozzarella but what was so special about our day was that every member of staff helped and looked after us in the kindest way. Even when I accidentally broke one of their display boxes, the very good looking Head Waiter was more than happy to hammer it together with some kitchen utensil the Head Chef handed to him!!! Amazing!!!

 

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I had the Ravioli alla Massala for lunch which is a homemade ravioli stuffed with veal and spinach in wild mushroom cream sauce.  It was excellent! Of course all this hospitality just meant our photoshoot, shot by Avi Chatterjee, went extremely smoothly and the results can be seen in this months issue of BBC Good Food.

 

 

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A massive thank you to Sudeshna Ghosh and Nicola Monteath from BBC Good Food, Avi Chatterjee, photographer and Gianpiero Ciceri ,Restaurant Manager and Chef Luca from Sapori Di Bice.

 

 

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The world seems to divide into two, those who like the smell of petrol and those who prefer the smell of chlorine, those who like wet food and those who prefer dry food. I definitely prefer wet food! Soups, stews, pies, tagines etc (the thought of nibbling on a dry ryvita makes me recoil in horror). Last week I was at Taste of Dubai as all self respecting foodies would have been and met up with some colleagues from work. I got chatting to Suzanne, our Bareface Entertainment Booker and realised that she has taken wet food to another level! Suzanne explained to me that she will not actually eat something unless it has an accompanying sauce, gravy, dip or relish to go with it. Her main gripe is that the proportion of sauce to main dish is often very inadequate and so she ends up leaving half the food on her plate uneaten. I have to agree with her, when I cook a roast I make buckets of gravy to go with it.

”A sauce is a liquid, creaming or semi-solid food served on or used in preparing other foods. Sauces are not normally consumed by themselves; they add flavour, moisture and visual appeal to another dish. Sauce is a French word taken from the Latin salsa meaning salted.

Sauces may be used for savoury dishes or deserts. they can be prepared cold and served cold like mayonnaise, prepared cold and served luke  warm like pesto, or can be cooked and served warm like béchamel or cooked and served cold like apple sauce.

A cook who specialises in making sauces is a saucier.” (wikipedia)

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I recently did a sauce shoot with photographer Hikmat W and W Studio for Delicio which is an Omani based company specialising in dressings and pasta sauces.

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Now the problem with many sauces are that they can be calorific so here is a delicious healthy recipe for ketchup which is known for its high sugar content (and so often a favourite of children, my god daughter eats it off her plate with hand!!!). Check out more low cal recipes on Spark People.

Minutes to Prepare: 5   Minutes to Cook: 15   Number of Servings: 100
Ingredients
Tomato Paste, 1 can (6 oz) (remove)
*Splenda No Calorie Sweetener, 3 tsp (remove)
Cider Vinegar, .75 cup (remove)
Garlic powder, 1 tsp (remove)
*Onion powder, 1 tsp (remove)
Salt, 4 tsp (remove)
Directions
In medium sauce pan place tomato paste and stir until smooth. Slowly add in splenda, water, and vinegar, continuing to stir until smooth. Place over low heat, add all other ingredients and bring to simmer while stirring. Refrigerate after cooling. Makes about 100 tablespoon servings.
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Saucy Suzanne eating sauce!!!!
1. Donna Hay, 2. Bill Granger, 3. http://www.preparedpantry.com, 4. http://www.simplyrecipes.com, 5.www.mixgreensblog.com, 6.www.femail.com.au

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I have just returned from a great new experience! I was working on a tv cookery program with Emirati Chef, Chef Khulood Atiq for Abu Dhabi TV. As I work mainly on stills and tv comercials it was great to see how a tv program is put together. Our set was modern and clean, white and turquoise with accents of red props including red Kenwood machines which I was of course pleased to see.

I was in charge of setting the themed table on set as each episode has a different them and styling the dishes for the close up shots.

The control room was upstairs where the director David Coyle from the UK would switch from camera 2 to camera 3, back to close ups on camera 1 etc. I however spent most of my time in either the props room or in the back kitchen which got fairly chaotic on a daily basis!

This is where we prepped all the ingredients and made some of the dishes ahead of time. ”Here’s one I made earlier!!”

I have been trying to get more knowledge of Emirati food and it is surprisingly hard to find this information so I was grateful to Chef Khulood who works as a Emirati Food Consultant for TDIC (Tourism Development & Investment Company) who taught me so much. She cooked everything from Semach Al Hasho, stuffed fish to Sagaw, sago. We also diversified into Emirati sushi made with rocca and spiced hammour and Emirati pizza. I have learned that saffron, cardamom powder, sugar, flour and ghee are key ingredients in Emirati cuisine.

Chef Khulood

I have to say a huge thank you to Executive Producer-Charbel who did everything from buying props to washing the dead goat in the shower! Script Writer and ingredients coordinator Susie who taught me Arabic everyday and Assistant Executive Producer-Jaad who spent most of his time in the supermarket but kept us all entertained, all from Firehorse in Lebanon.

And yes, the last episode was cooking a whole goat in true Emirati style! It was the first time I had seen one being prepared for cooking and now I can definitely say I have styled a baby goat. Always a winner on the CV!!!!

Watch Sarareed with Chef Khulood on Abu Dhabi Emirates channel everyday throughout Ramadan at 3pm.

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Last week I was lucky enough to attend a food photography and styling course here in Dubai. It was held by Meeta K Wolff who is the author of the very successful ‘Whats for lunch Honey?’ blog. It was organized by Sally Prosser of My Custard Pie  blog fame and was held at Nasimi Beach at Atlantis where I have to say we were totally spoilt! We had cocktail demonstrations and cooking demonstrations from their talented chefs as well as a full on Arabian banquet in the evening where all course attendees got to know each other better after our first day of learning. It was great to talk and share with other bloggers and foodies.

It was very inspirational to hear how Meeta has developed her skills of photography and food styling over the years driven by her love of food and to learn of the success she is now experiencing. I personally learnt  a lot about my camera, what I want from my camera and how to use it as a proper tool.

Lunch!

Cocktails and Chefs

On day two we all met at Lafayette Gourmet at Galleries Lafayette for a guided tour by Chef Russell and for more photography challenges!

Meeta showing us how its done!!

A huge thank you to Meeta, Sally and Alison from Nasimi for all the effort and organization that went into this inspiring course!

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Recently  I was asked to style an Arabian Lifestyle stock shoot for Arabian Eye. This involved two very talented photographers, Katarina Premfors and Rich Facun and the equally talented cameramen Nick Davidson and Andrew Clemson both from Alchemy. Now, all stock shoots are pretty hectic as the aim is to get as many quality shots as possible but when you have two photographers and film rolling you have to make sure that scenes work from all angles and everyone has a set-up to shoot!!!

I was responsible for the props, wardrobe and food. Luckily I was given two fabulous assistants, Simona and Sandiya to make this all possible. Here is the thing, you cannot do an Arabian Lifestyle shoot without dates and Arabian coffee served from a dalla (Arabian coffee pot). And to convey the Arab culture of hospitality I usually have to buy quite a lot of dates!

The Date, some facts……..
1. The English name as well as the Latin species name comes from the Greek word, daktulos,  which means finger because of it’s elongated shape.
2. Egypt produces the most dates at 1,350,000 metric tonnes and the UAE are 5th at 795,000 metric tonnes per year.
3. Dates are used in savoury dishes such as the Moroccan tagine, sweets such as Ka’ak, the Arabic cookie and in various date desserts popular in the West.
4. Dates are fed to camels, horses and dogs in the Sahara.
5. Traditionally, it is believed that dates can counteract alcoholic intoxication!!!(mmm, not sure about this one!)
6. Dates are a natural laxative so good for preventing constipation!
Well, as I mentioned earlier I am always left with rather a large amount of dates at the end of one of these shoots so I just choose one of the numorous recipes on the internet or from cookbooks for date cakes, date cookies, date squares etc but here is a tasty one called date drop cookies….
Ingredients:
1/2 cup , 4 ounces, of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Date filling:
1 pack, 8 ounces, dates, cut up
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup warm water
Preparation:
1. Bring dates, sugar and water to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until dates are thickened. About 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. Cream butter and sugar, stir in egg, water, flour, vanilla, baking soda and salt.
3. Drop cookie dough by the teaspoonful onto a lightly greased cooking sheet.
4. Place  half a teaspoonful of date mixture on top of the cookie dough.
5. Bake at 350 degrees or 180 degrees for 10 to 15 mins.

Before

After

 

Share with friends, family and hardworking Bookers in the office. Enjoy your date!

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Its done! We have completed the new kitchen in The Studio, Al Quoz. With bespoke kitchen units, a new fridge, 5-hob gas cooker with electric fan oven, a new extractor fan, a new hot water tank and even a moveable centre unit with a gas hob insert! This has been designed to be a functioning kitchen for all food stylists as well as ideal for shooting cookery webisodes. The colours are neutral greys which can be propped with numerous complimentary colours to achieve different looks. It is also equipped with chopping boards, pots, pans and knives to help food stylists lug a little less. And thanks to Rehana from Kenwood we can also boast top of the range cooking machines, blenders, coffee machines and more which are on their way as we speak!

To book this space go to The Studio. Thank you to Nick Davidson, Selva, Jumeirah Carpentry, Rehana, Elisa and Candice for making this happen.

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Last week I met Fadi Younes who is the proud owner of The Frozen Yogurt Factory in Dubai Mall. As you can imagine shooting anything frozen is tricky, with ice cream it is preferable to use fake as it can be controlled and therefore quicker in the long run. These yoghurts however had to look like Mr Whippy straight out of the machines. Sometimes these are made in resin by very talented props makers, but this is very expensive, takes time and once the model arrives there is only so much you can do with it!

I went down to the store earlier in the week to select some of the 50 toppings for our shoot, these range from fresh fruit, gummy bears, mini choc chips and grated oreos (one of the top sellers I was told!) I also had a little practice on the machines and as I suspected it was hard to get that perfect pyramid swirl! We also timed the yoghurts and worked out we had 3 to 4 mins to shoot each one! Scary!!

Fadi had three machines and the yoghurt mix, strawberry, mango and coconut delivered to The Studio the night before the shoot. Once the machine is turned on this mix is frozen in a matter of minutes ready to be dispensed, amazing! Luckily Fadi is excellent at making these yoghurt swirls so I concentrated on working on the composition and balancing the colours of the toppings. We worked out that freezing the yoghurt once a perfect swirl had been created gave us a valuable few more minutes on set!

Just after lunch, Fadi, whose background is in graphic design came up with an idea he wanted to try. We had earlier discussed that we like the yoghurt clean and I had placed the strawberries around it as opposed to on it. Fadi wanted to go step further and do circles in the flavoured syrups around the yoghurt and place the toppings in this. It made for a much more exciting image as there was movement as well as texture. I loved Fadi’s enthusiasm once we got going with this idea!

Frozen yoghurt is a much healthier treat than ice cream as it has a lot less calories. The Frozen Yogurt Factory has positive feedback in Time Out and when I visited the store there were people constantly popping in. One of the great things is that you pay by weight and it is self service so you can decide exactly how much of each topping you want.

Comment from Time Out reader

You will find the store by the cinema, opposite Sega Republic, Dubai Mall. If you are off shopping this weekend why not pop in for a guilt-free treat!

Thank you to Roger Payling, photographer and his assistant Selva and to The Studio and of course to Fadi for being such a creative and enthusiastic client!

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