This month, we're getting up close and personal with Ben Sassani, photographer extraordinaire and author of the blog Shoot My Chef. Read below to learn more about what it's like to work intimately with some of the greatest chefs around!
What is the name and address your blog, and what inspired you to create it?
www.shootmychef.com. The project came from an idea a friend pitched to me back in 2009. Sadly he passed away at the end of 2009, and we didn’t get to start the project together. So at the end of 2011 I picked the project back up, added a few more ideas, and started Shoot My Chef.
What is one of your most memorable experiences you’ve had while shooting a chef?
There’s honestly too many to choose from… but one of my favorites is from one of the very early shoots I had with chef Randy Evans of (then) Haven. He cooks breakfast with his family on Sunday mornings with his 2 girls and wife helping. After the shoot, as I was sitting at the table with their family and eating, I remember thinking to myself how not many people get to see this side of chefs with their families, and barely anyone gets to do what I’m doing at this exact moment.
You’ve mentioned wanting to expand your project to other cities – What are some of your other upcoming plans?
The biggest thing I would like to do with the blog is to expand it to other cities inside and outside of Texas, and hopefully beyond at some point. For now, I’m working on a book of the first 30 chefs I’ve shot and posted on the website. I'm working on a video aspect to the project that I hopefully will be able to talk about very soon!
Who are some chefs you have yet to work with, who you would love to shoot?
At the moment… Chris Shepherd would be a great and interesting subject. I’ve done shoots with many of his current and former employees, and he has expressed indirectly about his interest in participating. But he’s so busy with his business ventures that it makes it hard to set up a day. Maybe soon though!
What’s the most valuable cooking hack you’ve learned from your behind-the-scenes experiences with chefs?
Use butter. It makes everything taste so much better!
What are some of your favorite [food and non-food] blogs and websites to read?
For those who don't know, I do weddings as a full-time gig (www.sassaniphotography.com). Some of my favorite blogs are by photographers from all aspects
of photography. Here’s a list of some of my favorites:
My friend Clint Davis - http://blog.clintdavis.com
Zack Arias – www.dedpxl.com
Penny De Los Santos - www.pennydelossantos.com
Jody Horton – www.jodyhorton.com
What made you decide to become a member of the Houston Food Blogger Collective?
To be completely honest, I did a shoot with chef Arash Kharat last year, and he invited a few friends over. Among those friends were Abigail Diaz and Ahrif Sarumi. After talking to Ahrif for a bit he suggested I should join the blogger collective… and it would help him since he was the only guy on there! After looking through the website and blogs, and seeing how diverse of a group it is, I decided to join.
What is/are your favorite restaurant(s)/meal(s) in Houston?
At this exact moment… it would be State of Grace. Their chef’s table dinner is amazingly good!
What’s the biggest piece of advice you have for novice food photographers?
Gear doesn’t make you a better photographer, experience does. And definitely don’t be afraid to experiment and learn to shoot outside of your comfort zone!