Posts Tagged ‘Bareface’

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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Last week we celebrated 10 years of Bareface. A huge congratulations to Venetia and Justine who founded it all those years ago. And congratulations to all the beautiful people in the office who keep it running and to all the stylists, photographers, producers and models who make it happen on the ground even during the sweltering summer months. Bareface is still the largest model agency in the Middle East and remains at the forefront of stills production in the region. What’s more is that we all care about each other, we are a team.

To celebrate we had a party at Media One M Deck which is white, breezy and oh-so Miami! The office, exclusive photographers, stylists, models and suppliers were invited to attend. A huge thanks to Ralph Younes, the outlet manager, www.mediaonehotel.com for all his help.

Now all good parties need a decent welcome drink to kick start things! I  therefore decided it was necessary to create our own welcome drink, The B-FAB. One evening a few of us got together, head booker-Elisa Galbraith, stylist-Angie Savage, locations manager-Johnny White (who was actually more interested in the rugby scores!) photographer- Mike McKelvie, myself and special guest, photographer Adam Browning-Hill who happens to be a cocktail expert! Well after a few flirtinis, blue lagoons, screwdrivers, salty dogs and ectoplasms Adam came up with the winning recipe! The B-Fab was born! It is a refreshing and punchy shot! The beauty of deciding on a shot meant that we could serve all guests another round at 10pm to tie in with the 10 years!

Some of the ingredients;

by Mike McKelvie

The tasting;


The B-fab is made with Vodka, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, sugar and a hint of Grenadine. Served chilled of course!


by Mike McKelvie

The Party;

A good time was had by all and most of us managed to struggle through the next day! well done everybody!!

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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 was kindly invited by a team at the UAE Food Explorers for a food tasting at Global Village. It was the first time i had ever been to Global Village out on the Emirates road and i could not believe how busy it was! There are stalls from several different countries, mostly Arabic but Indian and African and Asian too, selling ornaments, clothes, jewellery, knick-knacks, and food. The idea was for me to taste a few chosen dishes from different countries and to comment on them on video. The dishes were chosen by the team and they included nuts and baked sweet potato from Egypt, tamahindi – a tamarind juice from Syria, Roti from Sri Lanka and halwa, a desert from Oman.

First i tried an array of different nuts from Egypt, almonds, cashews and peanuts coated in honey and sesame. My favourites were the praline almonds! Next it was onto the sweet potato snack…

The sweet potato was baked and was served with a white bean dish called Tirmas which was a crunchy bean with dash of lemon juice and pepper. This is a particularly great snack in the winter as it is healthy, warming and comforting! Strangely it is also a winter snack in Japan and can be bought from street vendors! I particularly liked the tirmas, i don’t think i have ever tried anything similar and it is always exciting to find something new. All so simple but delicious! Next it was onto the tamahindi!

This talented young man did an elaborate show of throwing and catching the little glass before he poured the juice into it from the silver caddy he is carrying on his back! He could easily qualify as a cocktail barman anywhere! The tamarind juice was interesting! It was brown in colour and at first it seemed refreshing until the sweetness kicked in! Unfortunately it was way too sweet for me but there were some definate takers amongst the group! Next we were off to Sri Lanka….

There were several types of roti and we tried them all. I always find it fascinating watching experts make food like this,I think its the speed and the skill, its great entertainment! The dish i tried was a mixture of vegetables, carrots, cabbage, onions ginger, garlic with chicken and an egg to bind it all. It had a slight kick from the chilis which i loved. again so simple, quick, healthy and delicious. Infact, totally forgetting about desert I ate a little too much of this! Next off to Oman…

This is Omani halwa, which of course means sweet in Arabic and yes, it is indeed very sweet! This is a very traditional dish served on all occasions, happy and sad, religious and festive. It’s main ingredients are starch, sugar, eggs, water, saffron, cardamom and nuts. Well, this was certainly something new! I was asked to give it points out of 10, 10 being the highest score and i really wanted to give it a 5 as its a dish probably very special in many families with unique recipes handed down from generations but unfortunately i could only manage a 3. My teeth and my tongue were actually giving it a 1 but that’s just rude!

It was a great evening out and i would like to say a huge thank you to the team at UAE Food Explorers, check out their great website with all sorts of restaurant critiques, www.uaefoodexplorer.com and to Bruce from Standard Chartered Bank for sponsoring it. Global Village is open till the end of Feb and if you are looking for something different to do one evening its well worth a visit, entrance fee only 10 dhs, bargain!!!!

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Well it’s that time of year again where that very special fruit, the pumpkin, gets centre stage! The pumpkin is heart-warming, tasty, healthy and versatile! After all what other fruit or veg lends itself so readily to becoming a household decoration? Maybe the melon, and that is where the name originates. The word ‘pumpkin’ derives from the Greek word ‘pepon’ which means large melon (sorry i couldn’t do the squiggly thing over the o)! There are records showing the word ‘pumpion’ or ‘pompion’ in English and French as early as 1547. This later became  our present word ‘pumpkin’.

Pumpkins are synonymous with Halloween on the 31st of October where they are carved into scary Jack-o-Lanterns. This was a tradition brought over to America by Irish and Scottish immigrants who used to carve turnips or potatoes into faces for festivals. ( Apparently the English used to carve beetroot but I’m not sure about this fact, sounds a bit messy to me!!) Anyway the immigrants realized that in the new land of America, pumpkins were more plentiful and the tradition crossed over to this new fruit.

Pumpkins are good for you! They are low in calories, low in sodium but high in fiber. They are also high in beta-carotene which is an antioxidant. Researchers believe that beta-carotene can reduce the risk of cancer, heart-disease and slow down the aging process!

I came across a fantastic website from some true pumpkin lovers… www.allaboutpumpkins.com. Check it out to learn more amazing facts.

I was brought up in Japan with a particular type of pumpkin called the Kabocha. This is available in supermarkets here now. The kabocha is usually quite small with a very tough dark green skin and is often steamed with the skin on in Japanese dishes. When living in Japan I made up my own very simple and quick kabocha soup recipe which I will share with you today…

Japanese Pumpkin Soup

225g pumpkin flesh

1/3 litre of water

1 tsp Hondashi granules ( Japanese fish stock)

3 cloves of roasted garlic

Salt and Pepper to taste

1. First roast the garlic cloves on a baking tray with a little olive oil.

2. Put the pumpkin flesh and water in a pan and let it simmer. Add the Hondashi and let the soup simmer for about half an hour, when the soup has thickened add the the roasted garlic which should be soft. Give the mixture a quick mash with a potato masher to get rid of any large lumps or a whizz with a hand blender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finally add a dollop of creme fraiche before serving. (I am a big fan of creme fraiche I’m afraid!!)

Now, Hondashi is used in most Japanese cooking but it is a slightly acquired taste so if it doesn’t suit your palette this recipe works equally well with chicken stock.

Hondashi is available at any Japanese food stores and at Spinneys and Choithrams for those of you in Dubai!

Happy Halloween and pumpkin enjoying!!!!

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Last week we were in Damascus, Syria for a lifestyle shoot for the Chams Palace hotel with photographer Katarina Premfors. It was the first time I had visited this intriguing city and the thing that strikes you more than anything is the history of the place! Beautiful, historical buildings, hammams, art exhibitions in old schools, the souk and of course Umayyad Mosque where we were invited in as special guests.

The driving was a little crazy, and i loved the little yellow taxis! There were some other nippy ways to get around town too…….

In  Chams Palace Hotel they have a cafe Called Cafe Brazil. It has open windows onto the street and has a charming Parisian feel to it! At the far end there was this loud methodical thumping noise. I asked the hotel manager what was going on and he took me over to meet two men, they were making ice cream!!! they explained the process to me: first they put the cream into freezing containers and then pounded it with a large wooden pestle. When the consistency was right it was rolled up and rolled in pistachios. They then slice this when serving to customers. I was given some to taste and it was rich and creamy with a delicious crunch!

Cafe Brazil Ice Cream!

I had a great few days there but would love to have had more time to explore and look around. The people were so friendly and even with limited communication I realised that everyone we met had such a sense of humour, like make you laugh out loud, funny!!! There are some lovely boutique hotels in the old city which definitely deserve a re-visit! Here are a couple we visited and I look forward to my next stay at one of them and tasting some more local dishes as I have been told that the Syrians are known for being the best cooks in the Middle East!

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