A Day In The Life

I was recently reading one of my favorite blogs called Kitchen Corners from the lovely Damaris Santos Palmer, and yes, she’s as equally wonderful in person as you’d expect from reading her blog. Her recent A Day In The Life post captivated me and I wholeheartedly enjoyed seeing what her day was like.

When I give talks or have students at my workshop there are a few questions that always surface, and a very common one is “What is a typical day for you like?” My immediate response is “Depends on which day you’re talking about. Pick one: Blogger, Photographer, Troublemaker, Traveler.” Of course I know they want to know what being a photographer is like so I thought I’d take Demaris’ lead and create A Day In The Life for myself. To share with you. Because it’s remarkably normal. I mean, as normal as it can be.

4:17am
Everyone freaks the fudge out when they find out I’m an early riser. As if something is wrong with me. Ok, now that I think about it they’re probably right, but then again you’re probably not the one dozing off at 8:48pm, are you? This is important to share because it has been a tenet of my career. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to be awake and yes, early in life. It just is. Now fix me some coffee.

P.S. I don’t use an alarm clock.

4:18am
It’s a sad day at the Pearson-Armendariz household if coffee isn’t made within 60 seconds of Wakey Wakey Times. After becoming addicted to the convenience of these machines while traveling through Europe, we’ve opted for Nespresso and DeLonghi machines both at home and at the studio. FULL DISCLAIMER: I am at about 84% adoration with these machines but they cannot ever replace actual beans and fresh grinding and brewing, whichever method you prefer. I realize this. No hate mail, please.

4:40am
I do believe friends in New York and other parts of the world appreciate the fact that I’m up early answering emails and tending to my correspondence. I’ll spend an hour or so reading the news, responding to emails, and trudging through my RSS feeder which is packed to the gills with fashion, food, design, magazine, and photography sites. Afterwards I’ll head over to catch up on the news.

6am
See that red sign? I like to pretend it says “Ice Cream Recipe By David Lebovitz.” Or “Extra Servings Of Korean Scallion Pancake” or “Assorted Donut Sampling”. Folks, the only way I can make myself exercise is by thinking of the dangling carrot (cooked in duck fat, natch) at the other end of the stick. It’s the only way I can stay in this business and not be 300 lbs. If I want to indulge I must burn. It’s that simple. There’s no other way around it. And for the record, all the fat fried deliciousness in the world is a treat, not a staple. That’s what fresh food and fruits and vegetables are for. Don’t get it twisted.

 

6:02am
My dear friend Aida Mollenkamp appears on the television which is all the inspiration I need to exercise longer and harder. One day I can be a gorgeous thin white woman, too. I hope.

6:53am
Nope, I’m still brown.

7:01am
You would think a gaggle of clients at your studio hovering and nitpicking over their product would be the most stressful part of my day. You’d think wrong. Ladies and gentleman, you ain’t seen NOTHING YET…

I give you MOXIE THE ALWAYS HUNGRY CHIHUAHUA!

Without fail, this chunky ball of lovin’ fur rises from her den, plops herself next to me and gives me a gaze that still chills me when I think about it. It’s all-encompassing, the weight of it alone can crush a human if not dealt with promptly. This is no exaggeration, either, you can feel her staring you down to your insides, ripping pieces of your flesh away until her painful stare causes you to stop what you’re doing and feed her, damnit!

And she won’t stop until you do. Nothing can stop her. Nothing.

Well, except a bowl of dog food.

Peace is restored in the home after she eats, and she’s back to being My Sweet Little Girl. We take a few minutes to cuddle because nothing makes me happier than animals.

7:30am
Breakfast is always something quick and easy. Some almond butter, ricecakes and a few tangerines and I’m all set. Around this time the other animals eat too, clearly not as demanding as Moxie.

7:50am
And it’s off to work! I absolutely adore my Pelican case and it goes everywhere with me. I’ve done the soft camera bag thing before but this hard case is much easier to deal with. Plus it’s doubled as a seat or desktop in crowded airports.

7:56am
More coffee.

8:15am
Today’s special guest, the California Avocado Commission, is one of my oldest and most favoritestistist clients. No, really. I love them. And over the years it’s allowed me to meet some amazing local growers, too. I love working with them because a) I love California and b) I love avocados. It’s a perfect fit. Anyway, these are props for the shoot that have been selected during a pre-production meeting a few days before the shoot. We are ready to hit the ground running!

8:30am
I actually iron my clothes at the studio before anyone arrives.That’s right, I look a hot wrinkled mess as I leave but I come home pressed-n-perfect.

9:15am
Today I’m working with the lovely Cindie Flannigan of Food Fanatics. They are my go-to stylists when it comes to avocados. And that other Food Stylist I happen to be married to? He becomes my brilliant and talented Prop Stylist. Everyone works together and I couldn’t be a happier man.

10:16am
Today I’m running two sets: one natural light and the other strobed for product shots. I really do believe food looks best naturally lit, and when you’re working with a product like California avocados it’s best to let them do their thang. I don’t need a million snoots and mirrors to bring out their best features. But when it comes time for single shots that will be clipped out and placed somewhere else, I’ll use a strobe to control the light as much as possible, giving the product a crisp, sharp outline. Oh, that’s Adam in the foreground snapping a shot of props for reference.

11am
WHAT? There was a little hat on the prop table? How? When? Why? And more importantly, WHY AM I NOT WEARING IT? Whew. Much better now. Cue the Tin Pan Alley classics, please! Show at noon.

1:56pm
Adam prepares another set. And Rowenta, I just can’t be subtle about this any longer. I just can’t. WE LOVE YOUR IRONS AND OWN FOUR DG5030s AND WOULD YOU PLEASE CALL ME SO I CAN TELL YOU HOW MUCH I LOVE THEM AND MAYBE GET A T-SHIRT OR PREFERRED CUSTOMER STATUS? WHAT DOES A MAN HAVE TO DO TO GET YOUR DAMN ATTENTION???

2:04pm
As per my contract (and etiquette, of course) I can’t share any final images until the client says so and they have appeared on the street. You’ll have to use your imagination here but let’s just say it was a beautiful, perfectly ripe, creamy California avocado.

2:22pm
Now on the other set, I’m focusing and composing.

2:45pm
When you photograph real food you get to “taste” it after you’ve got the shot. And what’s more delicious than mashed avocados on toast? My coat is going to be so shiny!

3:15pm
Cindie styles and I point! Then Cindie puts food on my head. Just another day.

3:22pm
While the clients regroup, my team and I take an RGB. No, that’s not RGB as in “Red Green-Blue” but Ryan Gosling Break. I believe every person should take these breaks because no man can ever look as excellent as he does at the airport. You bettah recognize.

3:40pm
Contrary to popular belief I do not drink while working. The prop stylist called for a glass of white wine in the background, I’m only helping out. But just you wait.

4:00pm
I make copies of the job several times a day, on several different drives, too. I believe redundant backups are important. One stays at the studio, one comes home, and 2 are shipped off-site. One even goes into outer space. Just kidding. I mean, about outer space.

4:15pm
Every client gets personalized attention. And what else does each client get? A dance from yours truly. Here I re-enact “I Don’t Want My Pizza Burning” dance from what is quite possibly the strangest clip on Youtube.

4:45pm
We’re still on the short end of daylight, and when you use natural light your options are cut short. But that doesn’t mean you can stop working, not at all! The last few shots required some additional light. I didn’t want to move my strobe set and decided on using an LED video light to illuminate my set. You can use any light source you want as long as you understand its properties and how to harness it the way you want. In this case the soft light was bounced off of foamcore onto my set, giving me soft light just like daylight. It wasn’t as bright as I wanted so I re-adjusted my ISO, filled in some shadows with more foamcore and kept shooting.

6:05pm
We’re done shooting for the day and make our way back home. “Someone” has a shopping and prop problem, no? In all fairness these are all things for the next shoot. It’s not unusual to schedule jobs back to back and getting stuff online really does save time.

6:12pm
It’s time to feed the wild beasts again. This is Cholula, named after the hotsauce, ready to attack my face. (I’m kidding, she’s one of the sweetest and most sensitive dogs I’ve ever met and if you know her you’ll agree.)

6:30pm
Dogs are fed, now it’s our turn. We head over to a local restaurant for sushi, edamame, and a glass of wine. However, our server says “We’re running low on wine glasses, can I bring it to you in a rocks glass?” I answer yes because I thought I didn’t care and I always try to be a nice patron. But then the more I thought about it I realized “WAIT: if you’re running low get more, and why must I be your rationed guest?” Oh, me and my first world problems, I tell you.

7:30pm
I usually edit images after a shoot, but the client needs to review all the images and make their selections before I begin to finalize the project. That means I get to curl up with the ipad (that sounds so wrong) and read the latest Donna Hay magazine and finish Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States by Andrew Coe. I loved this book.

8:45pm
I’m in bed now, watching a bit of TV before getting some end-of-day licks from one very hyper dog named Bindi. I’ve tried to resist her aggressive displays of affection, but with this dog it’s next to impossible. I just let her do her thing before falling asleep but really, I can’t think of anything better, can you?

9:40pm
I’m asleep and deep in Dreamland. I’d like to tell you it’s a space where dreams come true and wacky stuff happens, but you’ve just spent a day with me and probably think it can’t get any sillier. I agree.

P.S. I want to thank my clients for being open to letting me share. I shoot a variety of projects with big clients that you will never hear about because I believe in discretion. I do not need to share every single thing I do!

P.S.S. I love you, Aida.



“Street Food”

Regular physical activities, such as walking and jogging, undertaken in my “colorful” neighborhood yield interesting vistas, moments and scenes. Case in point: A jar of Sandwich Spread carrying a double-ply bologna sandwich resting on the sidewalk.  Waiting. And for whom? Why abandon a sandwich? Was a packet of spread or mayo insufficient? I suppose I shall never know. Luckily my iphone is never far.

Yes, “colorful” can mean hood.

Apologies to Best Foods. Or not.

Bloggers Without Borders and helping Jennie

Earlier this month, food writer and blogger Jennifer Perillo of In Jennie’s Kitchen lost her husband suddenly from a heart attack. Many of you may already know that the food blogging community came together for Jennifer and her daughters by sharing Peanut Butter Pie through a series of blog posts. It was one of her husband Mikey’s favorite things. Now I hope we can all come together again and support Jennifer and her daughters in this very difficult time, both emotionally and financially.

A fund has been started so that we may all easily donate directly to Jennifer. Called #afundforjennie, it’s being organized, maintained and facilitated by Shauna James Ahern of Gluten Free Girl and Maggy Keet of Three Many Cooks. Maggy has been working tirelessly to launch Bloggers Without Borders, a non-profit organization of bloggers for bloggers. Bloggers Without Borders is now collecting money for Jennie’s family and have made it super easy to donate.

 

Donate to Bloggers Without Borders

There will also be various auctions held by bloggers to raise money, check back for details on that. I speak for Shauna and the entire blogging community when I say your generosity, thoughts and prayers are appreciated more than anyone could ever say. Now let’s help out Jennie’s family and please tell someone you love how important they are to you.

Good Bite’s Weeknight Meals: The Cook Book

We photographed a book last year for Good Bite as well as contributed a few recipes along with some of our dearest friends. Now that the book is almost here I wanted to share a wonderful ‘lil video about the project.Please excuse the fact that my head looks ginormous.

http://youtu.be/Xx48cMOSwFM

 

I’m lucky enough to have an early copy (Thanks Justin!) and it’s a very beautiful book. It’s available for pre-order at Amazon. Thanks to Adam and Emily for the amazing food and prop styling as well as agreeing to work with me. I hope you still like me.

Kitchen Wisdom, Volume 1

Over the past few weeks as I’ve been doing media and press for my book, On A Stick!, there’s one question that sometimes gets asked after the usual “why sticks?” People ask if I have any culinary or cooking background, to which I say “Are you kidding me? You think I’m masochistic enough to work in a kitchen?!?” Ok, I don’t really say that. I just answer that all my knowledge of cooking comes from a lifetime in the kitchen with family. My grandmother, my mother, my father, my chef friends, my farmer friends, you name it – if I can glean something from them I will.

Many lessons have been learned through trial and error which I suppose is a good way to learn. I’ve made many mistakes and continue to make many mistakes (you should have seen my Korean song pyeon I tried to make the other day, I don’t even wanna talk about it). I thought I’d begin a series of things I’ve learned along the way and subject you to some bad illustrations I painted. Sometimes you just have to step away from the camera and change things up a bit. Ladies and gentleman, I give you MattBites Kitchen Wisdom Volume 1.

Kitchen Thermometers Are Your Friends.

There was a time when I tried to wing everything. The result? Soggy fried foods, destroyed melted sugar gloop, burnt butter (which isn’t a bad thing exactly but you know what I’m saying). And since deep frying plays a big part of On A Stick!, it’s important to know your temperatures and know when you’re where you want to be. Kitchen thermometers help with this. And they also help with roasting and baking so that you know when things like turkey and chicken are ready. We keep a variety of them in the drawer next to the oven and I’m not picky. Yes, some work better than others but I wouldn’t dream of being without a few in our kitchen.

 

Don’t Cook In The Nude. Don’t Fry In The Nude, More Importantly.

My handlers and the team of mattbites advisors have advised that I remain silent on the experiences that led to #2 in this entry. Suffice it to say that frying and cooking in the nude is not recommended, no matter how tall or short you are.  Trust me on this one.

One Good Sharp Knife Helps Tremendously.

When I visit friends who don’t cook or fess up that they don’t enjoy cooking I always ask them about their knives. Inevitably they’ll pull out a cheap $6.99 knife or something from the dollar store and say it’s their main prep knife. I’ll then do one of two things: buy them a very nice knife as a gift or tell them where to get one. You need the proper tools to be successful in the kitchen and a very good knife is the perfect place to start. You can skimp on other things in my opinion but you must begin with a good knife. It’s even more important than #1.

A Sandwich Made By Someone Else Will Always Taste Better Than One You Make For Yourself. Accept This.

You know what I’m talking about here. And I can’t figure out why and trust me, I’ve spent many sleepless nights thinking about it. But that doesn’t mean I won’t make a sandwich for myself when I’m home alone. In fact, ever since shooting The Encyclopedia Of Sandwiches I’ve learned to appreciate making them for myself. But it still doesn’t come close to having someone else do it. It just doesn’t.

Never Buy Premade Salad Dressings. There Are No Exceptions To This Rule.

You must pay taxes, death is certain, and bottled salad dressings are a waste of time and money. These are the absolutes of life. And at the risk of offending my fine friends in the food industry I really mean it when I say that there’s just no reason to ever buy a bottled salad dressing. EVER. Nope, convenience and lack of know-of is not an excuse. Because nothing comes close to putting a few simple ingredients in a jar, emulsifying them and seasoning it to your liking. And when you think about the costs involved you can’t help but skip the dressings aisle next time you’re at the supermarket. Keep a good olive oil on hand (not too strong), a few great mustards, some vinegars and herbs and spices and you’ll have salad dressing in about 45 seconds.

 

Okay folks, what about you? What have you learned to be your culinary truths in the kitchen? I would really love to know!

 

 



Updates and Fun Things!

Has it really been 2 weeks since I posted last? Here I was gonna keep this fun momentum going because there are so many exciting things happening! And you know what? I didn’t. Please forgive me? I’m going to jump right into all this because there are so many things to say!

Photo by Nikki from Pennies On A Platter. Thank you, Nikki!

Food Blogger Bakesale

The LA branch of the Food Blogger Bakesale, organized by Gaby Dalkin, was a huge sugary success! Benefitting Share Our Strength, Saturday’s bakesale was crowded, fun, energetic, and raised over $2000.00 to help end childhood hunger. It was great seeing so many friends (some twice in 1 week, for me that is RARE, heck, for anyone who lives in Los Angeles that’s rare) and participating in such a worthwhile event. The biggest gesture of gratitude goes to Gaby for tirelessly organizing the event and also to BLD for hosting it.

Photos by Rick Motzkus

 

On A Stick! Book Party

Fifty of our closest friends and family joined us at Border Grill for a celebration of the release of On A Stick! For those of you who made it amid all the craziness of a busy spring season, I truly thank you and I love you and your support means the world to me. Thank you for being there. And a special thanks to Border Grill for such delicious nibbles all served on a stick, naturally! I love Mary Sue and Susan, I love Leah and Peter, I love Border Grill and typing this at 6am makes me want some guacamole and sangria!

Sidenote: Yes, I realize that I get to hang out with the World’s Most Gorgeous Women and this photo proves it. Hotness times a million billion trillion. And each of these amazing women are as equally beautiful on the inside. I am so lucky!

Speaking of the book…there are book winners!

Ok, over 700 people left comments for the On A Stick! book giveaway. I AM COMPLETELY SPEECHLESS! SEVEN HUNDRED PLUS. And while I wish I had cases of cases of books to giveaway (I really wish I did, seriously!) I only have a few to share. To the winners: Nisrine, Katie, Allison, Ellie, Stacy and Lisa, your books will go out soon!

I also did a book giveaway on Design*Sponge, thank you Grace and Kristina! Winners will be announced shortly there as well!

A review

Speaking of the book again, here’s a lovely review of On A Stick! by the LA Weekly‘s food blog Squid Ink.. It’s an honor to even have it reviewed by LA Weekly and the one and only Jenn Garbee.

 

I’ve had friends send me snapshots of On A Stick! on display (thank you Powell’s in Portland, thank you Joe!) And now it’s not only at Barnes & Noble but also Urban Outfitters. Which makes me wanna grab a lomo and some Ray Bans and get all hip on your ass. Oops, sorry about that. Thank you, Urban Outfitters!

Powell's in Portland. Thank you Joe! We love you!

Savannah Bound

We are heading to Savannah tomorrow for a bit of fun and some running around. I fully plan on taking the Paula Deen tour and heck, maybe I’ll even show up at her doorstep and beg and annoy her into letting take a tour personally. I wanna see where the buttery magic happens. If you have any Savannah recommendations please do let me know! And yes, I’ll be missing BlogHer Food this year, I hope everyone enjoys the conference!

 

Speaking of running around…

Here’s a little video we made of a smoothly-operated photo shoot at our studio. Everything came together and there were no freakouts, no set collapses, no plate breakages, nada! Since everyone always asks me what happens on the set of a food shoot, well, now you can check it out for yourself!

 



Hey Food Friends! Want a review copy of my new book?

Well it seems just like yesterday that I was sticking stuff on sticks and making photos of them! It sure does! But now that it’s here — well, almost here — I’d like to extend a very special offer to you, my food blogging friends. Would you like a review copy of On A Stick!, my new cookbook? What? Stuff on a stick? Yes, you say? Please say yes. Because I would really love you to have a copy,  it’d make me really really really really really happy.

So, this book. Well, it makes me smile. It’s all about food on a stick and I had the best time working with Adam, Jenny and an assorted cast of characters in bringing you a book filled with some of my favorite things as well as state fair staples, some deep-fried goodies as well as some quick and easy things for everyone. It’s not all fried stuff (even though I would have been happy making a book called Fried Stuff On A Stick a/k/a Watch Matt Work Suspenders Like Nobody’s Business a/k/a The Ever Expanding Matt or just plain Hi, My Name Is Fat).

The day my advance copy of the book arrived made me muy muy muy happy.

While I’m on the subject of words, remind me to hug the copywriter at my publisher Quirk for saying “gleefully lowbrow treats”.  No, really, you make it sound respectable and I love you for that. I really do.

So, what’s inside On A Stick!? 80 recipes for party food, street-cart food, some real personal favorites of mine like Vietnamese Bo La Lot as well as moments where I really tested the limits of what could be put on sticks. And you know what I discovered? Things seem to taste better on a stick, and like I say in my book, you’ve got a built-in fun factor. You gotta love that.

And of course there’s the photography, something I hold quite dear. I wasn’t going to create a book unless it offered a visual bang and I hope that’s what I accomplished. Of course I can’t take credit for the photos, I had two amazing food stylists making beautiful food, all the while yelling “QUIT TWEETING, THERE IS FOOD ON SET” and “WE ARE NOT GOING TO REMAKE IT IF YOU MISS YOUR SHOT. TURN OFF STACEY Q AND QUIT DANCING AROUND THE STUDIO AND PAY ATTENTION.”

Anyway, I’d love you to be one of the first to have your own copy of On A Stick! My mother hasn’t even seen the book yet. That’s heavy.

Of course I have one copy at home sent to me hot off the presses (see exclusive pre-TMZ photo above) , but you wouldn’t believe who decided to have their own reading just last week.

 

That’s Moxie, Cho and Bindi, our dogs. I totally missed their Tuesday Yoga For Beginners Class followed by an On A Stick! book reading, I do hope they forgive me. And return my yoga mat free of Chihuahua hair.

So to get your own review copy, here’s what you can do:

  1. Email Eric Smith at: eric AT quirkbooks DOT COM. Send him your blog name, the URL and your name. He’s nice. Very nice. You’ll like him, I promise.
  2. Post a review of the book on your blog anytime during the months of April and May.
  3. Please link to the On A Stick! Amazon page, to Quirk Book’s website and to me, yours truly at mattbites.com.

 

That’s it! I do hope you like the book and I do hope you don’t blame me for eating too many Page 142’s*. Lord knows I sure did.

Please note that there are a limited number of books available for review so make sure you email Mr. Eric as soon as you can!

* Well you’ll just have to get a copy of the book now, won’t you?



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little sumthin’ from Adam on the CB2 Blog!

Well if this doesn’t make me smile from ear to ear then nothing will! Today my extraordinary husband and food stylist Adam Pearson makes an appearance on the CB2 Blog and it’s a fantastic interview!

When Adam mentioned that he’d be working with CB2 in January I was thrilled. As a fan of their stores and decor (that’s me on top of a few of their tables at home which I got in trouble for, thanks Adam), I knew the Adam + CB2 pairing would be a match made in heaven. Modern and affordable furniture, beautiful photography, brighty happy stores…I do love all things CB2. His contribution as food stylist was an outdoor Mexican fiesta for 12 guests and his recipes will be featured on their blog over the next few weeks.

Make sure to visit their blog and read the interview with Adam! Thank you, CB2!

Follow CB2 and Adam on twitter if you’d like!

Giveaways, Updates, Fun Stuff!

I went to Avery Island, Louisiana. More on that shortly!

Well it just feels as if I haven’t blogged a darn thing lately! Please excuse my tardiness. There have been many things to do, places to go, and photos to snap that have all kept me away. But with things like Twitter and Facebook I suppose I’m never really away, am I? At any rate, this is one of those posts that lump a bunch of stuff together and I guarantee by the end of it you’ll be sick of me.

But please pay attention. Please. There are some nifty things happening in this here post and you might be able to win stuff. Keep reading.

So long, farewell…

Folks, can I just tell you how wonderful it’s been being a Spice Islands Flavor Explorer? My stint is almost up (rumor has it that a pretty fantastic guy is taking over the reins) but I just wanted to take a moment to say how I’ve had so much fun in the kitchen with Spice Islands over the past 3 months. It’s been a pleasure dreaming up recipes using their high quality spices but perhaps my favorite moments have been using their all natural Vanilla Extract. While many other brands add corn syrup, Spice Islands vanilla beans from Madagascar are carefully processed, resulting in an extract that doesn’t need anything but vanilla. Seriously though, try it and taste it for yourself.

But just as important as the flavor are the people at Spice Islands. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and it’s been an honor to meet such dedicated people behind the brand. Sometimes I wish everyone could get to know them!

As a quick farewell, I’ll be giving away five Spice Islands samplers, filled with a few of my favorite spices in a beautiful lil Trunk. Check out all this spicy goodness:

Spice Islands pure vanilla extract
Spice Islands ground cardamom
Spice Islands Chinese five spice
Spice Islands smoked paprika
Spice Islands Telicherry black peppercorn
Spice Islands sea salt

From the Martha Stewart show. How cute is that?

 

I really want you to get in your kitchen and try these spices (if you haven’t already!) so leave a comment below to win. I’ll randomly select 5 folks from the comments section and while you’re always free to leave comments please note that a) I’ll be picking a winner on Friday, March 11th and b) you must live in the United States. There you have it!

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I’m on Food(ography) with Mo Rocca, March 20th on the Cooking Channel at 9pm EST.

You might remember a post I wrote about taping a segment for an upcoming show. I can now tell you the show was Cooking Channel’s own Food(ography) and it will air Sunday, March 20th at 9pm EST. Some of you may now that I’m a regular contributor to Cooking Channel’s Devour The Blog but this segment was all about blogging, photographing and styling food. I’ve been told it’s a good segment but I have no idea how fat my head and giant cheeks will look on camera or how I’ll sound like Minnie Mouse when I speak. I’m a bit scared to see it.

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Speaking at SXSW

Will you be in Austin next week for South By Southwest? I hope so. I’ll be speaking on a panel this Monday, March 14th titled “The Moguls Of Food Porn”. I’ll be joining a few others discussing food and photos and it promises to be thrilling. The darling Addie Broyles has written a great round-up of food things happening during SXSW and if you want to read more about my panel please check it out here. I hope by the time you click this my photo will have been added. I’ve been a very very very bad panelist and only uploaded my photo recently, shame on me.

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Appetites for the Ipad

I wanted to update this section about the app that I worked on called Appetites because I wanted to share with you all that it was named App of the Week by Apple! How’s that? I happen to think it’s pretty damn phenomenal.

Let me tell you a little bit more about Appetites. Some of my favorite food bloggers, myself included, are in this app, Gaby (What’s Gaby Cooking), Nick & Blake (The Paupered Chef), Stephanie Hau (Like My Spoon), Adrianna and Caroline (A Cozy Kitchen) and Gabi (BrokeAss Gourmet). We all shared some of our favorite recipes with you!

What’s great about this app is that I believe that Appetites is about learning to cook and taking away the intimidation from getting in the kitchen. What also got me excited about the project was that I would get to teach some of my most loved dishes in a brand new format. And trust me, you can make them too.

In January, Appetites was the only app to win a Best of Show award at Macworld.

Appetites is filmed from the chef’s perspective so you can cook right along with us in the kitchen! Each recipe is broken down step-by-step which makes it easy to follow.

Here’s my video:

And here are some of my recipes you’ll find in Appetites:

Spicy Black Bean Chipotle Dip – http://vimeo.com/20313985

Tortilla Soup – http://vimeo.com/20313911

Vegetable Crumble – http://vimeo.com/20313814

Fromage Fort – http://vimeo.com/20313697

Agua Fresca – http://vimeo.com/20313311

Cemita – http://vimeo.com/20313192

Appetites is now available on iPad and coming soon for the iPhone. I hope you’ll check it out – http://appetitesapp.com and on the App Store at http://bit.ly/appetites_appstore

Enjoy it!


Food Blog Camp 2011 in Mexico


Well hello there! We just got back from a week at Grand Velas Riviera Maya in Mexico where we we attended and instructed at the 2nd Annual Food Blog Camp. To say it was a marvelous experience would be an understatement; it was heavenly! We enjoyed the company of our blogging family and met many new wonderful people, all immensely talented. In fact, I think the greatest thing about teaching is that I learn so much and I always come home energized, challenged and satisfied.

So what was this whole Food Blog Camp about? It’s a series of workshops, hands-on demonstrations and plenty of quality one-on-one time with some leaders and legends of the blogging world. And no, I don’t consider myself either, I’m just lucky enough to be invited so I can usually do something that will embarrass myself!

The camp was held at the luxurious Grand Velas in Riviera Maya. Astonishing architecture, lavish accommodations and stunning views of mangroves and ocean became the backdrop to our daily activities. I’m actually a bit hesitant to even call it a “camp”: there were no cots, no bunks and definitely no need to rough it over a campfire in the mountains. This was first class all the way.

During the day we all shuffled into Grand Velas’ beautiful conference hall for classroom style lectures and presentations. Plenty of information, questions, and insight with tons of valuable nuggets to take home and implement. I always enjoy these brain-flexing sessions.

Ah, the beautiful and gracious team known as White On Rice Couple. They are our dear friends, and any time spent with Todd and Diane are moments for learning what true dedication, professionalism and talent look like. They are the real deal and I knew attendees would have an amazing time learning from them. They spoke on the technical aspects of food photography from camera angles to aperture and shutter speeds, providing real world examples that really cement their ideas home. I love learning from these two, it’s exhilarating.

After the first part of their presentation we all headed into the grand hall to put many of these practices into motion. We also had an opportunity to work with various breakfast items and Kerrygold Butter, one of the Camp’s gracious sponsors.

Sally and Kent Cameron discuss camera settings. I adore those two.

Smooth, slick and thoroughly entertaining. That's Michael Procopio for you.

The second part of Todd & Diane’s workshop involved a hands-on, breakout session that literally had my jaw dragging on the floor. The entire camp took over one of the resort’s phenomenal restaurants for an afternoon of photography. But this wasn’t just about snapping photos of our food; we were there with the entire restaurant staff, closed to the public, with cooking demonstrations and tables set so that every student could experience the restaurant environment.

If you’ve ever had a photo assignment in a restaurant you know it’s a tough job. You never get to indulge your photographic desires because chefs are simply too busy, you don’t want to interrupt the diners’ experience and — this is the worst — there’s never great light! However, this opportunity simply blew me away and I kept running around telling people how lucky we were to be able to do this. I also told them that this type of thing will probably never happen again, it was such a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Restaurant staff, chefs and servers were our models while wine and appetizers were passed around to enjoy. Wait, was I supposed to photograph them too?

Michael snaps Lucy and Gaby while balancing a glass of wine. He must have taken my previous photo class.

Here’s the lovely Jaden of Steamy Kitchen leading a discussion on brands, blogging and her best practices. I’m loving the stacked chairs.

Another wonderful session included David Lebovitz. He spoke about finding your unique niche and voice as well as the history of hand puppets and shadows which I found completely fascinating! This one is called La Paloma.

Speaking of David, I think he really enjoyed this year’s camp. When you are a successful author and blogger you are always working and I’m glad he managed to find a productive spot at the resort from which to work.

This is a food blogging event so you better believe everyone is wired to the gills! Because my mama didn’t raise no fool I always manage to sit with the beautiful women. Always. Jealous?

Jaden, Diana, Carrie, Gaby and Brooke. I love them all so very much.

After all the workshops were completed (and my apologies to Elise as I cannot find my images of her as I write this, damnit!) it was time for sun and fun. And food. Plenty of food.

And beer. Icy glasses of beer. Enjoying one and staring at the beach or laughing with your friends makes life that much better.

Poolside con cerveza. Photo by Gaby Dalkin.

Not the most glamorous shot of food I know, but still. Tons of ceviche, pulpo, lobster, salsa, guacamole and jalapeños. Not in the photo are the piles of corn tortillas nearby. AMEN.

If there are two things that stand out for me this past week it’s definitely Cochinita Pibil as well as these Huitlacoche Quesadillas. This fungus is known as Corn Smut and while it’s name is less than glamorous it has a distinctive, earthy citrusy flavor that I absolutely love. And if you serve anything small and cute on a little plate I’m pretty much going to love it by default. There you have it.

Speaking of love, you all know one of my best friends Gaby of what’s gaby cooking, right? Not only is she my blogging buddy but my dear friend and I really think someone upstairs is watching out for me by allowing me to have such a special person in my life. She radiates love. And she’s the only person on the planet who can match my love of avocados and guacamole, spoonful by spoonful.

Gaby, Marla of Family Fresh Cooking and Carrie of Deliciously Organic. Powerhouses, all of ‘em. And Carrie just celebrated the release of her first book. Congrats, Carrie!

And there I am with my Adam, the man with those famous knuckles. We also taught a workshop on food styling and photography that was part presentation and part hands-on at Azul, one of the Grand Velas restaurants that overlooks the beach. For a wonderful summary of our session check out Jason and Shawnda’s post at Foodie Bride called The Greatest Job In The World.  Hey, I think I agree!

There were so many great moments from Food Blog Camp and it’s hard to cover them all. I think one of the best moments was captured on my iphone one afternoon as we swam and laughed by the pool. Thanks to everyone for indulging me with the Film Strip Hand Wave. Here’s a little movie I’ve put together.

A special thanks to Kate, Grand Velas and Kerrygold. We’re really looking forward to next year!

For more round-ups from Food Blogger Camp 2011 please sure to visit these peeps!