Food Lifeline is a great organization that is fighting to end hunger in Western Washington. “Working with the food industry and its surpluses, we come up with creative solutions to stopping hunger, including redirecting good food from manufacturers, farmers, grocery stores and restaurants that might otherwise go to waste.” – Food Lifeline website
There are some pretty staggering numbers on food waste in America, so it was especially gratifying to work on a project like this that I know is going to have a positive impact. For example, did you know nearly 40% or 170 billion pounds of the available food supply at the retail and consumer levels in America will go to waste? – via Food Lifeline website
I worked on this ad campaign with the folks at Green Rubino, who I also shot The Recommendeuer with last year. Big shout out to my friends Joe Quatrone and Dennis Budell who I love collaborating with!
Here is a fun little post production fact I thought you might enjoy. I photographed each of the subjects bare arms and legs, and those assets were used to make the arms and legs on the apple and carrot. Gigantic Squid did a fantastic job retouching these, and you can’t help but feel happy that the apple and carrot found good homes.
For many people, Ferran Adria needs no introduction, but for those of you who are not familiar with Ferran, he is one of the most innovative chefs and people in recent history. He has been on Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people list multiple times. His restaurant El Bulli was the best restaurant in the world until he shut it down in 2011 at the peak of it’s success, with the idea of reinventing it. Not many people have the vision and willingness to take great risks the way Ferran does, and that is a big part of what this feature is about.
This assignment came up very quickly, and within 3 days of getting the call, I was off to Barcelona. Aside from creating some awesome images, my secondary goal was food. Get food. Just a piece of cheese or a scrap of bread would suffice. To be able to say I was handed food from Ferran Adria, that would be pretty cool.
Right off the bat, I want to thank and acknowledge the creative team at Wired UK. The Photo Editors, Dalia Nassimi and Steve Peck, Art Director Andrew Diprose, and Executive Editor Greg Williams. Greg and Andrew also traveled to Barcelona for this shoot, and we first met up with Ferran at El Bulli Workshop not far from our hotel in Barcelona. It was a busy morning between meetings, the interview and photo shoot, but we worked with Ferran in small chunks of time throughout the day. Ferran is one of the most meticulous and driven people I have ever met. As you can see from some of these images, his attention to detail and planning is second to none. Every room in his workshop as well as his kitchens are lined with whiteboards covered in notes, diagrams, and plans. His spice rack at El Bulli Workshop is so thought out, he probably knows how many grains of salt are in the salt jar. Perhaps most impressive was the play dough portion size and design templates for each meal he has created. Nothing is left to chance. His passion for his work and innovation also seem to be very contagious, because everyone he works with seems to completely buy in. I was able to learn some of this before the shoot through my research, but it is never as fun as the real deal. It was really amazing to pull some of the intensity and passion out of him, as you can see in these images.
Ferran now has a new tapas bar with his brother, Albert, in Barcelona called Tickets. From what we had gathered, it is quite an experience in it’s own right, with an impressive menu, including several famous dishes from El Bulli. It’s also next to impossible to get in to. Greg brought up the idea of getting a table during the photo shoot, but we were told it just wasn’t possible. While Ticket’s would have been the ultimate dining experience, we were in Barcelona after all, and Ferran recommended some of his favorite tapas bars and restaurants to us, which were all amazing. Later that evening, we caught up with Ferran at a local museum which has a wonderful exhibit on the history of El Bulli. They closed the museum down, and we got a private tour from Ferran.
We had 2 days of shooting scheduled with Ferran, and after a long and eventful day one, we got up early the next morning and drove a couple of hours outside Barcelona to El Bulli. It is still closed as a restaurant, but currently is filled with computer programmers and large white boards of plans and code. Big changes are coming to El Bulli before it re-opens in 2014. Going out there, we knew the kitchen was closed, so we were not expecting food, but we were also not expecting the surprise Ferran had instore for us. Ferran pulled Greg, Andrew, and myself over to a corner of the outdoor patio and brought us into a tight circle. He held out 3 fingers, looked at us in the eyes, and said, “9:00 tonight, Tickets for the 3 of you.” Kids at Christmas! We were through the roof. More on that below.
This issue has only been out about a week now, and we are already seeing this cover being recognized as one of the best covers of 2012. Pretty exciting to be a part of that, and an honor to work with AD Andrew Diprose, who is one of the best in the industry.
Ferran at El Bulli Workshop talking with two of his computer programmers, who are working on some exciting new developments for the El Bulli brand.
Working with Ferran on the how best to hold the E, and balancing it with the proper way to hold a knife and cut. Pictured with Ferran’s interpreter, Andrew Diprose and myself.
El Bulli kitchen during the remodel / reinvention of El Bulli.
Portion sizes and shapes of all ingredients served at El Bulli made out of Play-dough.
Two dishes served at El Bulli made from Play-dough, next to a photograph of the actual dish.
Below are pictures I took of our meal at Tickets. In all of the excitement and euphoria, there were several dishes I forgot to photograph. That being said, here are quite a few images of many of the amazing things I got to eat that night. Our server’s name was Claudia, and she added so much to the experience. We didn’t feel qualified to order, so we told her to bring whatever she wanted to serve us. She talked to us quite a bit throughout the night, and brought the dishes in an order that flowed and paired flavors. Ferran even came in to say hi and introduce us to his brother Albert. It was by far the most amazing food experience I have ever had. We asked the concierge at our hotel for walking directions to Tickets before we left, and he told us he could make several other restaurant recommendations because we would not be able to get in. Greg tried to explain that we had reservations, but he just laughed at us. Silly tourists.
Confit potatoes with pork rib jus and boiled iberian ham
Liquid ravioli of Payoyo cheese
Warm lava cake of “turron de Jijona” with raspberry sorbet. We ordered 2 of these. 🙂
This short video about Tickets gives you an awesome behind the scenes look at the food they create and what the dining experience is like. Eating at one of Ferran’s restaurants really is about the whole experience and using all of your senses.
Wired UK AD Andrew Diprose, Ferran Adria, John Keatley, and Wired UK Executive Editor Greg Williams
I would encourage you to pick up a copy of the October issue of Wired UK which is currently on stands. You can also see a great documentary on Netflix called El Bulli: Cooking In Progres. There are also hundreds of fascinating videos online of Ferran and El Bulli. I can tell you I have already invested countless hours watching many of them.
I would like to thank everyone who worked with me on this assignment. Dalia, Andrew, Greg, and Steve at Wired UK. Awesome people. Thanks to my rep Julia at Redux Pictures for all her support and hard work on the backend to make this all happen. Thanks to Gigantic Squid for the awesome retouching. Thanks for stopping by and enjoying my work.
Some might find it ironic and nostalgic (our favorite hipster description as of late around here), others might simply call it a way of life — call it what you like, the artisan food movement is BIG, and if you don’t keep on your toes, you might fall behind. One week mushroom foraging is the trendiest of trendy, the next week it’s goat farming and cheesemaking. We got a real kick out of this lately when John shot the Seattle Weekly cover story highlighting (and kind of poking fun) at the whole phenomenon.
Apparently my ‘hipster-esque’ kitchen fit the bill location-wise, and the next thing you know we were all jammed in there dumping large cans of Safeway peaches into Mason jars prepping for the shoot – slightly ironic, slightly nostalgic, and downright hilarious. The photos of this began as outtakes, and actually turned out being what they ran with. The model in her kitsch Anthropology apron, can in hand, and the rest of us just out of the frame in stitches. Don’t get me wrong, I think the whole slow and local food movement is awesome, and to prove it, here is the pickle recipe I can’t wait to take a stab at (courtesy of a childhood friend who has recently made some great waves in the food world with her super legit food blog). Thanks Anna, and especially thanks to Seattle Weekly Art Director Jane Sherman and all of the great folks over at Seattle Weekly! We can’t wait to do it again soon. As always, gigantic thanks to Gigantic Squid for retouching.