Thanks to my work on Seven magazine I met senior sous chef at the Headland hotel Sanjay Kumar when I photographed him at the harbour and in the Headland. Wanting to develop the food photography side of my portfolio, and liking Sanjay’s style, I suggested we get together for a shoot and here are the results.
Sanjay’s a cool guy, with a lust for life and some highly creative food ideas. He has worked as chef to the King of Saudi Arabia, a job he landed after cooking a meal for the Saudi ambassador in the hotel he was working in at home in India. The ambassador liked the food so much he came to Sanjay and offered him the job. “I had a passport at the time,” Sanjay told me casually, “So I thought, why not.” However, it also meant being apart from his wife who was finishing her post-doctoral studies in the US. I’m not quite sure how they ended up in Cornwall, but luckily for us here they are. Sanjay is passionate about fresh Cornish produce, especially seafood and is heavily involved in the Newquay harbour fish festival, and is planning on starting a social enterprise helping kids get involved in cooking.
The photography was all carried out at my home in Newquay using natural light and various backgrounds which I had prepared the week before, one of which is an old pallet. I was amazed how fast Sanjay worked and how many different beautifully-presented dishes he could get out of just a few ingredients. The “Still life on a Newquay beach” dish was quite a challenge to photograph: so may things happening, with langoustines surfing fish fillets onto to a couscous sand with a tomato and mozzarella lighthouse behind and mussels for rocks. Amazing.
One of the great things about food photography is that you get to eat the subject at the end of the shoot. Sanjay modestly said that there would be something for the cat, but can I tell you that the cat didn’t see much of this grub!
Incidentally, I learnt one things from this project, and that’s why food photographers often use dulled-down cutlery. Check the spoon in the apricot and clotted cream rice pudding dish, there’s a very prominent reflection of myself taking the shot!