Food is a metaphor for life. What you eat and how you eat it, what you cook and how you cook it, tells more about you than any biography on an “about” page. Like most people, we grew up with a mixed relationship with food. Favorite dishes from restaurants were juxtaposed with bad cooking, fights over the dinner table and a complete lack of understanding of how the things we ate affected our health and happiness. For much of our lives, food was a mixed metaphor at best.
After years working as a food writer and a food photographer, this relationship slowly evolved into something much more complex. This blog is an exploration of the past, the present, and the future of that relationship. It is an opportunity to take childhood favorites and reinvent them, to explore new flavors, and generally poke fun at the pomposity and arrogance that food seems to evoke in magazines and on TV.
We have watched from afar and been shoulder deep in the food world for years. We understand that there isn’t much new under the sun and that no matter how many pictures you take of a single dish, it is just a plate of sustenance. Restaurants are not always to be enjoyed, and sometimes analyzed for missed ingredients, poorly executed techniques, or just bad execution. We prefer to eat at home, though given a time machine we would travel back to the meals of years past, before food service companies standardize every Mom and Pop restaurant into a tasteless chains.
For us, food is a metaphor for our relationship. We work amazingly well together, anticipating each other’s actions in an easy and fluid pattern. Cynical and intrinsically snarky, this blog is our way of recording our exploits in the kitchen, and how we have and will continue to explore food as a metaphor for love and life.
Sabrina S. Baksh
In the kitchen, Sabrina is driven, focused, and usually incomprehensible. For her, food is a creative palate of flavors, colors, and photo opportunities. In the midst of these creative burst it is best to stay out of the way, but close at hand and to keep washing dishes. Sabrina’s studies in the dark side of history have given her an appreciation of the hardship and joy that food has represented. It is more than just sustenance; it is the continuity of culture.
Forced to take up food photography to compensate for Derrick’s complete lack of an eye for plating and presentation, Sabrina found the outlet of her dormant artistic abilities. She also had to compensate for a grillmaster’s inability to correctly use pots and pans. Naturally talented and well versed in a wide range of cooking traditions and methods, Sabrina is the inspiration of many of these methods and a supertaster who can pull apart any sauce into an ingredient list in seconds.
Filling out all these plates has let Sabrina explore the freshest ingredients, the subtlest spices, and dig through obscure antique shops for the rarest of platters. She has watched the evolution of food photography from the brightest and whitest of table settings to an endless array of dirty trays and manually distressed tables.
Twenty years ago Derrick accidentally became the Barbecue & Grilling Expert at About.com. It has been a long road of learning, traveling, putting on way too much weight, and growing that site into the largest and most popular of its topic in the world with millions of readers gathered from virtually every country. The opportunities that this position has afforded Derrick are innumerable. He as eaten the best of the best, but after letting success go straight to his head, Derrick suffered a massive and near debilitating midlife crisis which dropped him to a weight not seen since Junior High and to develop and understanding that it is more important to teach the inexperienced the simplest techniques than it is to help the proficient master perfection.
The advantage of having a very popular website (not a blog) is that marketers and PR people, seeking to put cheeks in seats, have invited Derrick on a wide range of press junkets where he learned wine tasting, ate his way across South Korea and dined in the tents of the world’s foremost barbecue champions. It’s a great way to live, but often a rather lonely way to travel. Derrick can select for you a fantastic wine, but will probably stick with gin. He can debate smoking methods and then get a salad.
Derrick and Sabrina
In our second decade as a couple, we have created a working relationship around the kitchen table. Hours, even days, spent preparing for a single photograph, developing a single recipe, tend to end with us exhausted on the couch with a couple of forks talking about the next project. Food and cooking have become, for us, an emotional connection and release that is both challenging and fun. Hopefully that translates into this blog as we explore the things we actually want to eat and not just the list of needed pictures.
We eat what we photograph. There are not tricks used in any of our images. Great food photography must start with a love of the food itself and not out of a need for the perfect image. Wasting food just to get the shot is a crime committed against the people who work so hard to produce what goes on to our tables.