I’m taking you behind the scenes of FOOD magazine’s Christmas issue shoot.
Going to ABS-CBN is like coming home for me. It was here that I had my first job right out of college as a newscaster for Studio 23, and a mere four years later, it was also here that I began my career as a food writer at FOOD magazine. Though I’ve written for almost all the local food magazines, I’ve always contributed in some way to FOOD for the past 10 years – as a writer, recipe developer and tester, and stylist. When Foodie magazine was still around, I was the Copy Editor and resident columnist.
The November and December issue of FOOD is devoted to all things Christmas, the most popular section of which is called Presents Perfect, an illustrated guide to all things food for the foodies on one’s gift list. In 2004, I was given the gargantuan task of styling what looked to me like 50 different desserts as well as writing the text and captioning the photos while squinting at the negatives – the NEGATIVES! I forget now why the photographer then didn’t just email me the jpegs.
This year, FOOD holds its Presents Perfect shoot at Restaurant 9501, ABS-CBN’s Executive Dining Room. Heading the shoot is my friend and mentor, professional photographer Mark Floro, and the entire FOOD team working with stylists and an Art Director. Come with me as I take you through the vigor and verve of a food shoot.
“I wish my studio was this big,” Mark tells me while we wait for the completion of a set-up. “There’s space to move around.” Indeed, with this many props, pastries, and people, most premium of all is space. FOOD Art Director, Lito Uyan, conferring with Mark. The success of the shoot rests on these two along with the stylists, of course. This is one of the set-ups. You can see the codigo and pen of Associate Editor Tintin Samson at left. She checks off all the items to aid in captioning the photo later on. With the terrific team that turns out FOOD every month (L-R): Associate Editor Tintin Samson, Editorial Assistant Gel de Rivera, me, and Managing Editor Troy Barrios. Once the dessert/food item has been shot, it’s placed on the center table to be mauled. At foreground are the various cake boxes and bottles to be used in the shoot. This shot doesn’t even begin to illustrate the enormous amount of sweets available today. Seriously demented (and looking it, too) after two hours of drooling over dessert, I attempt to swipe a cupcake but stylist Nini Falcon swats my hand away. Dang, busted! As a stylist and interior decorator, Nini weaves color and magic into a visual masterpiece. Here are some –just some!– of her props. “Wow, I bet you own a truck to move around all this stuff!” I marvel. With FOOD Editor-in-Chief Nana Ozaeta. Nana was the former head of F&B World, a magazine I also used to write for. With Troy and Nana, looking over some of Mark’s shots. We see ’em as Mark shoots ’em. No negatives here, thank god. “Could you give me something here, please? There’s an empty space.” Mark tells one of the stylists. This is the Oriental set-up. There’s so much texture and contrasting color here that catches my eye. (Not to mention those matcha tea cupcakes on the lower right!) Mark’s assistant, Paeng, adjusting the reflector slightly to the left. When I arrive at the shoot, I start gleefully calling out the desserts I’m familiar with and the names of their bakers. Tintin and Gel are amazed that I can do this just by sight. But they present me with some new desserts that have me stumped, like the Giant Cookie Cake from Costa Brava and the Banana Chocolate Cake (on elevated cake stand) from Tina Diaz. Yay, new bakers to discover and feature on DCF!
This post is titled “Paralyzed By Pastry” because I leave the shoot and belatedly realize that I haven’t had one bite – not a one – of any of the desserts. What a fool I am. But I get like that sometimes; when presented with a plethora of choice, my system shuts down and pastry paralysis sets in. So what do I do? See photo below.
Here I am, caught in my daily daydreaming of dessert.
Presents Perfect can be seen in FOOD’s November 2011 issue available at all leading bookstores, retail outlets, and supermarkets.