Monday, October 05, 2009

The Rooibos Cookbook #6/6

 

So, with this post I'll end my glance-back series on the Rooibos Cookbook. I have been very busy and not able to put up some decent posts on the really exciting things we've been doing, and the happenings of the current time. Wax Lyrical is alive and well and should go online shortly, I'm putting together a documentary/art series on restaurants, stock, amazing automotive shoots we've been doing (a Audi R8, Nissan GT-R and Aston Martin DBS in 1 month! Watch this space for pics and reports THIS WEEK) and other lank funny happenings..., like the GT-R being driven over my 430EXII (Strobists, not too much of a loss, think I'll replace it with a 580EXII when I have the money), computers crashing, building ring-flashes from tupperware, etc etc. Also we're currently shooting the catalogue for a well established and legendary crockery brand - watch this space. But back to our reminiscing.

To reiterate, the Rooibos Cookbook have been a fabulous excercise and well worth the effort to relate. Images from the project will also go into my food portfolio this week. We're covering 3 days today.

LIQUID CHEFS:

These guys are portable bar services, including a barman training academy. Having photographed Kevin Snyman before, I was exposed to this dude's encyclopedic knowledge of cocktails and it's history. He'll fill you in that rum was first drunk by this and that dude, on such and such a place, and by accident discovered the Mojito when he accidently did this and that in 1732 on a naval ship gone AWOL during this and that war close to the island of this that has since been blown to bits by the French doing nuclear testing and therefore no-one knows about it. And while stating these facts non-chalantly he'll work with swooping motions and controlled intensity, even in such mundane tasks as putting ice in a glass he'll swoop through the ice-bucket and accurately double back-summersault the glass crash-catch the ice and place it on the rubberised workstation and with the swoop of his other hand pour an EXACT (we tested him - he can pour exact tots without measuring. We're talking bubble but don't spill exact) tot over ice.While that happens his other free hand (when in motion he looks like he might have 3 or 4) scratches his ear before swiftly collecting a mix of some sort and pouring it mid-air while his 4th hand starts getting mint ready for garnish. Oh, and he's not really that into flair bar-tending. Oh, and while doing all that he makes sure he makes eye-contact with the woman in the room - they make a living off tips as well, you know.

Anyways, we had a startling start to proceedings when I was helping Kanya collect all her stylist thingies from her car and she smashed the hatch on my head giving me a mild headache and bump on my forehead for the remainder of the week. I binged on a couple of head-ache tablets and was able to see in focus after a couple of minutes. Then some dude got shot in some sort of weird drug related thing across the road while Jeremy was collecting stuff from my car. All in a day in Maitland.

Although I do eat food at food shoots, I choose not to drink while working, so I was on Coke for the rest of the afternoon, but did take a sip of some or the other mocktail. The cool thing about pro barmen is that they never drink on duty either, making for a professional atmosphere and work ethic. The designer and stylist did try some of the drinks though, but managed to curb their enthusiasm quite professionally!

Styling cocktails was a harder than we thought, since we weren't working in a restaurant with an atmosphere established with decor etc. We were in an industrial building, in a class-room of sorts, so we had to rely a bit more on things like trays and props. Also, cocktails are by default fairly styled as is, so it took for Kanya to really work her collection of surfaces and props, and did so admirably.

We ended up with fair collection of Rooibos cocktails and once we got our groove on we worked to a steady rhythm, all the while being entertained to interesting barman anecdotes and liquor knowledge.

At about 8pm we were on our way and ready for the next day of shooting.

LA COLOMBE WITH LUKE DALE-ROBERTS:

I think it is safe to assume Luke got a little more than he expected when I arrived at La Colombe's quaint garden restaurant at Constantia Uitsig and suggested we shoot prepping in the kitchen. I might has well have asked to wear his pants. Initially it was out of the question (a bummer for us, as the trend for the book has been properly set now), but later on he agreed to let us into the kitchen for some mocked prep shots in the kitchen after lunch. Part of the reason is understandble: they prepped the food prior to the shoot and the kitchen is visible to all patrons dining there, so they probably felt it would not seem appropriate for us to be there.  For someone who has been Chef of the Year, that is all understandable.

Luke is well-known for his affinity for Foie Gras, and having photographed it at this establishment before, I was wondering if it would be on the shoot list. In fact duck-liver was, but not Foie Gras, as Rooibos felt that it would be unwise to have such a contentious dish in a book that would be going all over the world, including countries where Foie Gras is banned. However, we (Kanya and I) were nonetheless quite eager to test his duck-liver. In fact, we couldn't finish the dish soon enough before we dug into it...

.....and it was amazing. Wow. The best liver I have had in my culinary privileged life. But then Luke came out of the kitchen and was somewhat annoyed, judging by his expression, that we actually ate the dish. A first for us, as most chefs begged us to try and taste. He did offer some reason or explanation that it might not have been cooked properly, but it did make us somewhat apprehensive of tasting the other goodies. It's kinda uncomfortable overstepping some invisible line of protocol, but luckily it was soon forgotten. For the most part we were left to our own devices while Luke was tending the preparation and kitchen.

So when it came to the Creme Brulee, another little visitor was ignorant to the protocols of indulgence and ended up finishing up where we left off. If Jeremy was present I fear the squirrel would've become his pet, judging by his treatment of a pigeon trying the same thing at a previous shoot.

My arrangement for a Rooibos Martini... lighting set-up was to follow.

A set-up for portrait. This however didn't stay long as a slight breeze decided to take my lastolite for a swim. Glad it was not electronic equipment! After finishing up outside, we were able to go and shoot - quickly - prepping in the kitchen. Ready for the next shoot.

MOYO

Don't believe every stereo-type. Andre, the executive chef at Moyo is French, friendly, a bit shy, easy to get along with, ego-less and calm. And we worked quickly! We were nearing the very end of the project and our chops were up, our operation and THE METHOD very efficient. At Moyo we were able to indulge in the amazing array of decor and atmospheric settings available to us for styling. We even ended up shooting a pear dessert straight on the mosaic floor outside.

The shot we were working on here, I was quizzed about later on on a radio interview for RSG about the book, as it seemed strange to them we would shoot on the ground. I spat out something sounding artsy and checks-like-creative, but in essence, it was a cool idea and it worked for the dish on some unexplainable level. Glad they didn't quizz me on Philipe Wagenfuhrer's version of a pear dish hidden under a brandy tumbler...

JEREMY AT THE ORIENT, JOHANNESBURG

Due to a prior engagement, I had to send Jeremy to Johannesburg to complete that leg of our schedule. He shot at the Orient and the Mosaic at Forum Homini. I can't speak much on that other than the pics I got back (he did a sterling job!)...,but see these...

The guys in Jo'burg loved Jeremy, and after looking at these pics, how can you not?

 

FINAL SHOTS OF THE BOOK AT THE STUDIO

After all the restaurants and food were shots, we needed a shot or two on Rooibos-preparation, storage etc, so I ended up shooting some shots in my fridge at the studio. After that, I was ready to just go and launch the book!

EPILOGUE:

I was seeing Roobos everywhere, putting Rooibos in all my dishes at home, talking Rooibos, drinking coffee (?) and planning my own Rooibos recipes, of which a number has been tried out successfully on friends.

The book has received extensive publicity in the media, we've been interviewed for radio, TV spots and it's selling well everywhere, including the UK and Germany. Translation and adaptation for the US market is underway. It was launched at a great media event at the CPUT School of Hospitality and we all felt grateful to be part of this endeavour.

To quote Morne Botha: just replace water, stock or Mrs Balls with Rooibos. Go on, do it. And by the book while you're at it.

MANY THANKS TO:

Gerda - Rooibos Ltd

Rene, Karen - Catapult

Kanya - Styling

Jeremy - Assistant Photographer

All the chefs

All the people working behind the scenes like Karen Armstrong, Daleen van der Merwe and countless others doing the unpublicised work.

2 comments:

yodasmith said...

What brand of Rooibos do you normally get? I trust Wisdom Natural Brands, the parent company of Wisdom of the Ancients. I haven't had their rooibos tea, but i trust the company.

Danie Nel said...

95% of the world's Rooibos is supplied through Rooibos Ltd (www.rooibosltd.co.za), so my guess is you should be fine most of the time. Here I use various, but I'm quite satisfied with Freshpak.