Archive for the ‘Shoots’ Category

Last week we were at Palmonade, a kitchen showroom on the Beach Road for four days to shoot a Kenwood campaign. This time we were specifically shooting images for the Indian market which meant both the food and the wardrobe had a strong Indian influence. The photographer was Daryl Patni, the agency TMH and the crew and models from Bareface. Both Angie, the wardrobe stylist and I threw ourselves into it spending hours at a time down at Mina Bazaar, myself looking for pots, pans and rolling pins etc and Angie picking out the loveliest saris,(on one of the shoot days we actually counted her saying the word ”sari” 15 times in three minutes! Just a little obsessed!!!)

I had treated myself to two new cookbooks for this shoot, one for its incredible information on Indian spices, THE INDIAN KITCHEN by Monisha Bharadwaj and one on its fantastic propping, EAST INDIAN COOKBOOK by Manju Malhi mixing both Indian antique with modern western tableware. I was able to achieve something similar by buying props in Karama, Mina Bazaar, Zara Home  and Tavola.

We shot 4 to 5 machines a day over the three days with the last day concentrating on the the Kitchen Machine and the  Kitchen Chef with Chef Osama, who brought down lovely Arabic pastries from his own baker. The three new machines featured were the …..

HB 890 KMIX Triblade 5 in 1

This hand blender  comes with the the triblade, the soup XL and a durable metal balloon whisk as well as a chopping blade and shredding disk with the 1 litre food processor and is available in white, cream, black, silver and red. We shot the red model so we coupled it with a lovely green coriander chutney amongst other dishes.

The BL 480

This blender has three speeds and crushes ice, has a grating mill and a grinding mill. Ideal for those spices needed to make curries!

The BL718

This slick blender is a little more hardcore being more powerful with five variable speeds and metal body. It is the first Kenwood blender to have a thermal shock resistant glass jug which means both hot and cold liquids can be blended. I very much liked the weight of this machine!

Some styling tips when doing curries:

1. keep bowls small to make and curries more attractive by having a smaller mass of sauce as it is often brown in colour.

2. use ready made curry sauces (to save time but adjust colours if needed) and cook vegetables and meat separately and mix together  last minute to keep ingredients defined in the sauce.

3. think outside the box! I didn’t have any saffron to garnish my mango lassi so i cut very thin slithers of beetroot  to place on top. it worked a treat!

Here are some behind the scenes shots of this very fun shoot…..

A massive thank you to Rehana from Kenwood for being such a cool client, Zahra and Darine from TMH  and to Palmonade for letting us totally take over again! And a little special thank you to Ant for keeping my work space so tidy and functioning!!!


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This week we did a three day shoot for DeLonghi. DeLonghi are an Italian, family owned and run company in Traviso near Venice. Interestingly the company started out repairing and then making oil-filled radiators. Now they make everything from electric ovens to ice-cream makers. There are over 20 categories of coffee machines and we shot a selection of these. The images were clean, sleek and sophisticated, some shots were with models and some were straight forward still lifes but the heroes each time were the espresso, cappuccino and the caffe latte.

The espresso is a concentrated coffee brewed by hot water being forced at pressure through coffee grounds. Espresso often has a thicker consistency than coffee brewed using other methods. And the stronger the brew the more crema (foam) you get. It has been recorded that the espresso was invented as far back as 1884.

The cappuccino is a coffee made from espresso, hot milk and steamed milk froth. The name comes from the Capuchin friars, referring to the colour of their habits. It is a morning drink and rarely drunk after 11am.

The caffe latte is similar to a cappuccino but with more milk and less milk foam. It was actually invented in California and not in Europe although similar breakfast drinks did exist. If you ask for a latte in Italy you are likely to get a glass of milk.

A caffe latte differs from a latte macchiato in that in a latte macchiato, espresso is added to milk, rather than the reverse.

The location of the shoot took place at the Hacker showroom on Sheik Zayed Road. Hacker is another family owned company this time from Germany. They make beautiful high-end kitchens. Their kitchens range from 60,000 to 2 million dirhams and feature sensomatic drawers and magic cupboards where the inside shelves gently pop up and become extra work surfaces. Genius!

Behind the scenes:

Food styling tip:

To create longer lasting foam slowly heat some full fat milk in a sauce pan and add clear washing up liquid. Whisk the warm milk with an electric hand whisk. For close-up shots it is always better to use the real thing and a coffee machine is required for this.

A huge thanks to Rihana from Kenwood, Zahra and Darine from TMH, photographer Richard Allenby-Pratt, Samir and Scott from Hacker and the Bareface team, producers Neha and Wafa, wardrobe-Angie, hair and make up-Kat, booker-Leila and our lovely models.

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“Hi my name is Mary-Kei and I am a Ninjaholic!”

Last month my friend introduced me to Fruit Ninja, a game on his ipad. It is a ipad/iphone game by Australian developers Halbrick Studios. Well, of course he had no idea what an addictive personality I have but I was instantly hooked. Unfortunately he would only let me use his ipad for the occasional 30 mins here or 20 mins there which was a little frustrating but I then realized I could download it to my iphone. Yeay! This of course has now led to hours of wasted time! At one point I was setting my alarm early so I could play Fruit Ninja before going to a shoot! As if waking up at 5 isn’t early enough!!!

I don’t know what the attraction is, whether is the vibrant coloured apples, pears, watermelons etc, or the delicious splatting noise and mess they all make when you slice them with your finger, I particularly like the “phfffutt” noise you get when slicing the banana! It could be the changing of pace throughout the game or the constant encouragement and well-dones, who knows. I am not a huge computer game fan and to be honest have never really seen the attraction but something about Fruit Ninja has got to me..

I play the Classic version where my high score is 479, this version can get a little stressful as if you hit a bomb it is all over and you are blinded by the ridiculously bright light of the exploding bomb. It’s quite charming in that it gives you little fruit facts, “an apple tree is able to produce fruit for up to 100 years” or ” mangoes belong to the same family of plant as poison ivy”. Fascinating! I do prefer the Arcade version as it is quick and a little more fast-paced. My current high score is 769. I was told that the world top score is a crazy 17,000. I’m not sure I believe that, that person must really have no life!

I am pleased to say my addiction is a little more controlled now. I do still play a few games everyday but it’s not at the expense of not talking to a friend I haven’t seen for a week and I am certainly not setting my alarm early anymore. As I have wasted countless hours on this I decided I needed to do something constructive so I decided on a Fruit Ninja food shoot. This was shot by Mike McKelvie www.bareface.com and I love the results. Who would have thought all those wasted hours could lead to a beautiful food shoot! Please note the ”50 bonus point” dragon fruit, my favourite!

Styling tips: All fruit was cleaned and polished. A little oil was added to some of the fruit ie apples and pears but not bananas as they immediately start to go brown. The cut fruit was sprayed with oil to stop the oxygen from turning them brown. In these cases you have to work quite quickly as fruit does degenerated fast. Fruit was held in place with skewers and tooth picks which were then skillfully retouched out afterwards.

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Every now and again you get booked on a fabulous shoot. Last week was exactly that, as we shot a five day fashion influenced lifestyle shoot at the Burj Al Arab, Dubai’s 7 star hotel.  It is my favourite building (from the outside) in Dubai. Not only is it amazing to be able to walk freely around the entire hotel, but to get to see service elevators, kitchens and staff areas is always fascinating to me. There are 1540 staff employed at the Burj and over 300 chefs! They have 6 restaurants and 2 bars. We had to shoot in all of them!

I love shooting at the Burj (we have done several shoots for them ) because, dare I say it we get to enjoy a fantastic lunch! As any good producer knows, lunch is of utmost importance to a crew. And although I am always content with our sandwiches and salads you cannot compare it to a sit down lunch with smiling waiters and chefs. At Bab al Yam, the poolside restaurant where we were invited to eat, the sashimi is on tap and the choice of salads, cakes and cheese just make you feel spoilt. Also unlike some of the hotels we have long shoots in the main course changed daily, that deserves two extra stars any day! Lunch at Bab AL Yam…

The food…..

The team included photographer Martin Beck www.martinbeckphotography.com, our “on it” producer Neha, hair and make-up by Toni and photographer’s assistants Jay and Sharif as well as my lovely assistant Dina. These are a little peep into what we shot…

Of course all this cannot be done with the help of certain people so a huge thanks to Dana at Saks, Burjuman www.burjuman.com,  and Michael Cinco Couture, www.michaelcinco.com who were so helpful. Also to Emma and of course the wonderful Marco, marketing and communications manager at the Burj.

Can’t wait until the next one….

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Last week I had the opportunity to go to Florence for 2 days to help on a mini film being made for Ferrari World here in Abu Dhabi. They needed a stylist to help with the Arabic dressed models, the shayla can be a tricky thing!!! This was one of the locations we filmed at!







I was very excited as I had never been to Italy and have recently been looking at the possibility of buying a ruin somewhere in Umbria, next to Tuscany. (I assure you their annual chocolate festival has nothing to do with this choice!) Anyway, I was excited at the prospect of eating Italian pasta in Italy!

It was all a bit of a rush but I was able to spend a few hours on the Wednesday evening exploring the piazzas and trying to find the Ponte Vecchio, only to realise that if you’re on the bridge you can’t actually see the bridge! Duh!!! (I found the above beautiful photo on,”  florencefoodie.wordpress.com ” by Emily Wise Miller which is full of info on eating in Florence.) I then ventured to the Piazza Signoria and treated myself to a delicious glass of rose which came with complimentary nibbles, the olives were out of this world! It felt magical watching the twinkling merry-go-round and  listening to the group of buskers playing double base and saxophone as a young couple had a passionate argument in one corner of the square which of course, ended in an even more passionate kiss! So Italian!

The next morning I  had a few precious hours before I had to race back to the airport. I decided to go to the food market, Mercato Centrale before eating at Marios trattoria which seems to be both highly recommended by locals and travel books. The market was full of fresh pasta, beautiful balsamic vinegars, olive oils, porcini mushrooms, tantalizing truffles and trotters!!














Feeling my tummy rumbling I headed towards one stall which had a queue forming and asked the guy what they were selling. He said,” boiled beef sandwiches!” As I am always up for something new I decided to try one….. well,  it was thin slices of succulent beef topped with salsa verde and chilli salsa in freshly baked white rolls. Amazing!!








But it was so filling I couldn’t quite manage Marios so I wondered round the Duomo for a while to make room for the all important gelato experience which a kind old man offered to photograph…..








This rounded off my short visit nicely and I can’t wait for my next Italian adventure… ciao!

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This week I had the privilege of meeting Scott Crawley who together with Richard Lambert and Executive Chef, Andrew Burn run Yes Chef! We did a food shoot for their new website which will be up and running in the next few weeks.

Andrew created delicious meal after delicious meal. The shoot was fast with 10 shots per day so the food was being shot fresh from the kitchen without the need for all the usual food styling tricks. It is of course better to shoot food in this way and there is the added bonus of us being able to sample all these amazing dishes afterwards.

Yes Chef! having been going for about a year, successfully doing private parties, co-orporate functions, fine dining and even bbq’s. They will be expanding into restaurants, school meals, healthy eating and more!

I took some quick shots of behind the scenes…..

Nick the photographer

Andy in the kitchen

Arranging the food

And of the food…..

Mouth-watering bbq grill

Pan fried sultan ibrahim on a bed of grilled vegetables

Selection of bread from their own bakery

The photographer Nick England used a combination of day light with a little flash to achieve this look. The shots looked great. My own favorite dish was the Yes Chef! spiced pineapple with vanilla ice cream. The pineapple was gently simmered in sugar with an array of spices including chilli which gave it a little kick and looked amazing on the plate! See Nick’s shot of the dish below…..

The team from Yes Chef! are natural hosts and really funny too and i can’t wait to see their website when it is up and running!!!

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