Here are some of photographs I produced for Happinez, for a story on how to boost your vitamin intake with certain foods, in the special edition called Happi Health that was published in The Netherlands a couple of months ago. It’s been years since I worked with food - I used to work regularly as a food stylist for magazines, catalogues and books around the world, sometimes styling the food myself, other times working with wonderful cooks & stylists like my dear friend Yvette van Boven, as well as Michele Cranston and Emma Knowles, and photographers Petrina Tinslay and Jeroen van der Spek were among my favourites.
I had forgotten how much I love working with food until this shoot. As I got creating, I was thinking, why haven’t I done this for so long? To be honest, I think it was because of the over-abundance of cookbooks, food magazines, food shows… it felt to me like there was enough already, and that it feeds that consumer energy, that need to fill up ‘the void’ in us with so. much. Also, there is so much incredible talent out there already, I felt like it was well and truly covered.
But I have a genuine love of eating well, sharing my love of nourishment with my daughter and her friends, and enjoying a beautiful meal with my friends and partner (we are often talking about food, as the French do!) I’m not an entertainer - I am not that friend who always has a fridge full of everything and can whip up something amazing any time of day or night. I’m not always in the kitchen. It’s more that it’s one of the mediums of creative expression for me - like painting is for some.
So having said all that, I do absolutely love shooting delicious food! Focusing on taste, texture, colour and nourishment. It’s why I am so looking forward to co-hosting the kids tasting workshop in a couple of weeks!
This shoot reignited that passion within me. With this story, it was the first time I’d photographed, cooked, and styled at the same time - I’ll just say this, it was bloody challenging to do all roles. A little bit nuts really, in hindsight. But the challenging aspects did not take away the joy! My studio was in full swing- every part of it was in use, the kitchen was abuzz - the oven on, the blender going, chopping boards and utensils in action. The walls were lined with canvas backdrops and wooden tabletops. There was music. There was mess. It was beautiful chaotic order - just the way I love to work.
I thought you might like to see the shots in their entirety, and to share with you some of the recipes I created to be able to get the full benefits of each vitamin I was asked to represent…
Here are the recipes for the roasted sweet potato dish and the red quinoa. Everything else is pretty self-explanatory (if not let me know and I’ll happily answer questions in comments)…
Roasted purple-skinned sweet potato with Japanese natto beans…
Cut a purple-skinned sweet potato in half lengthways and roast in the oven with an oil of your choosing (olive, coconut, whatever you like!), with a little salt. Top with warmed baby spinach leaves and natto beans which you can get in asian grocery stores. The texture is a little unusual - its very sticky, but don’t be put off, as with the combination of the sweet potato and the spinach, it’s delicious and so very good for you! Garnish with micro herbs (which are also full of nutrients).
Coconut & Red Quinoa porridge with nuts, seeds & edible flowers…
1 cup rinsed red quinoa
1 cup coconut milk (or milk of choice)
1 cup filtered water
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
maple syrup (depending on your sweetness needs, but for me it was about 2 tablespoons)
pistachios, pecans, whatever nuts you have on hand, activated and if desired, slightly roasted or warmed.
edible flowers if you have them
shredded coconut for garnish
In a saucepan, bring quinoa, milk, water, salt, and cinnamon to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for around 15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed,
Turn off heat and let stand covered 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Transfer to serving bowls. Top with the nuts, petals and shredded or toasted coconut.