When it comes to cooking, dining and just enjoying food, we sometimes forget that it all starts outside. Great produce is what makes a great dish and it’s something that I keep being reminded of.
There are two things that I love and its food and being outside. The connection between the two is often forgotten or overlooked but when you remember, your appreciation for what you eat is so much more.
To me, there is nothing as great as stepping outside into the sunshine, fresh air and wide open spaces. As a photographer I look at the light but I also make it a point to step outside every day for pure joy. It helps me to feel more grounded and remember the simple things in life. My friends joke about it because my delight on a sunny day has me even jollier than normal. We call it a ‘Suasti Kind of Day’.
There have been so many times that I have gone to eat in a great restaurant to be amazed at the food but the moment that I think about how long it took to actually grow a certain tomato, raise a piece of kobe or mature a beautiful cheese my appreciation sky rockets. It takes so long! The people who create these products for restaurants to use and put on our plates, go through so much trouble to nurture and take care of their produce. In a world which is about fast consumption, the slow and time honoured way that these producers work makes me think twice about how it ALL starts outside – in nature.
In doing this photoshoot for Odette, we decided to take Chef Julien Royer, outside, to where it all starts with food. We are so used to seeing chefs in the kitchen that we thought the often unspoken symmetry between nature and the kitchen would be a good way to remember exactly where a great dish starts.
With Chef Julien growing up in the country in France we had to shoot this series outside in Singapore, for his restaurant, Odette, named for his grandmother who first taught him to cook. I imagine growing up in France, he spent countless hours outside on the farm, growing vegetables and harvesting them from season to season and perhaps even sitting under a tree and day dreaming about being a great chef one day. This he has most certainly achieved.