Comin’ to L.A. + Sharing Food Porn Secrets

David Beckham

Sometimes, I feel like life isn’t fair.

and then…I play with Photoshop. All of the sudden, all is right in the world again.

Except there is way too much space btw his head and mine.

David Beckham

Well, it turns out that I’m not only one degree from Justin Timberlake, but get this. I’m ONE DEGREE FROM DAVID BECKHAM.

See that lucky girl above? NO, not me, the one in the first photo. That’s Tina. She owns Epicurean Culinary School in Los Angeles. Becks was at her school. Now, I don’t remember if he was there taking a class, shooting a commercial or just making out with Tina in the back room, but he was there at the school.

And I too will be there next month teaching 2 classes! All you Los Angelitos – I want to meet you!

Both classes are small, intimate, hands-on cooking classes. Meaning, I teach you how to cook in Epicurean’s studio kitchen. Each class holds 15, so if you’d like to participate, give the school a call and reserve your spot. Last December when I taught two classes, both were sold out. By the way, if you took the December classes, these new classes are entirely different menus.

Oh, and one more thing…I’m teaching the Southeast Asian II class with Rasa Malaysia!

Class Schedule

Epicurean Culinary Academy – 2 blocks away from the Beverly Center
Epicurean School of Culinary Arts
8500 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90069
(310) 659-5990

April 17: Asian Party Food: Great dishes for easy summertime entertaining
Vietnamese Fresh Summer Rolls with Cashew Nut Dipping Sauce

Minced Chicken in Cool Lettuce Cups with Crispy Noodles
Korean Bulgogi Spiced Burger Bar
Fresh Lemongrass Ginger Ale

April 19: Southeast Asian II
Lemongrass Chicken & Coconut Soup
Malaysian Chili Shrimp
Vietnamese Fragrant Crispy Chicken Wings

Vegetable Pad Thai

okokokok! so, I’ve got a new food photography feature to share with you…basically I’m sharing some of food porn secrets!….

Citrus Soy Kampachi with Soba Noodles

Citrus Soy Kampachi with Soba Noodles

(click above photo for the series of photos that didn’t make the cut…plus my commentaries for each)

Recipe to come soon…and OMG, it comes with a contest for Steamy Kitchen readers!!! Ever hear of Kampachi fish from Kona Blue?

3 lucky winners.
sent overnight, fresh fillets.
rich, buttery, clean.

Nice haiku, eh?! Ok, but the contest is for another post…sooooon, I promise.

Crawl inside my head

I’ve been working really hard on food photography for the cookbook - teaching myself how to capture luscious food pics while still keeping the food fresh and edible (i.e. this is our dinner) So, I thought I’d begin sharing some more of my photography – not just the nice, pretty, perfect shots – but rather the not-so perfect ones leading up to the money shot. If you’re interested in food photography, then maybe you’ll learn from some of my mistakes and thought process. I’m no pro at photography, I barely understand my camera functions outside of “auto.” But, I’ve learned that half of getting a great shot is equipment. The other half (the cheaper half) is styling and composition. While many of the shots look good, one thing I’m learning about cookbook photography is that good isn’t perfect. If you want people to spend $25 to buy a cookbook, it better be awe-inspiring!

If I’m just shooting for the blog, I’m not as OCD about the photo – and it really only takes 3-5 minutes to throw the plate on the table and snap! snap! snap! a few photos. I get a few different angles and then done. We eat. So, please don’t think that I took hours to do the photoshoot – I pretty much do exactly what you all bloggers do…my family is hungrily waiting at the table while I’m quickly capturing a shot…hoping that at least 1 is the money shot!

I think though, if I could give one piece of advice for “hurry up take the damn picture because we’re hungry and we want to eat,” it’s this: as you are cooking, think about how you want the dish to look in the photo. For this photo, while the noodles were boiling and the fish was pan-frying, I knew that I wanted the fish to sit on top of a nest of noodles. A lemon garnish added that splash of color and height that the dish needed. I did all my mental prep work in the kitchen.

It takes quite a bit of time putting these slideshows and commentaries together, but I hope you find it worth looking through! I’ll be doing these photography montages often.

Heeere we go!

Comments 49

  1. Kitt

    Cool! Don’t you love digital photography? Its nice to see your process more. Very enlightening. (So to speak.)

    Won’t you come teach in Denver? Or even in the Bay Area; I’d jet out for a class.

  2. Lyrical Lemongrass

    I actually thought all your pictures were wonderful! hahaha. Yeah, I noticed the subtle imperfections once you pointed them out, but my imperfect mind would have settled for any of those pics. :-)

  3. didally

    It’s nice seeing all the pictures with their imperfection, and how you achieved the final result. I am so lazy, mostly making use of the natural daylight from the windows, no flash, no reflector, and all the unsightly shadows. Haha..

  4. kate

    Now thats a hottie …..Beckham ofcourse !!!!….woa …how i envy that chick Tina ! I’d probably have my hands all over him , even while taking that picture :). And the soy fish with soba noodle is just screaming out … come n eat me. Its gorgeous Jaden. 2 lovely pictures to kewl my eyes here today :)

  5. Bkhuna

    I’ve dabbled in food photography and can appreciate the effort that goes into taking a picture. My friends and family ate without me on many occasions while I was in the other room trying to “get the shot” while the food was still warm and yummy (or the light from the window was still right).

  6. Isabel

    How about coming to Toronto?
    Those menus look so so good……would love to take a class and learn how to make the Asian foods on them.
    Good luck in LA…..lucky dogs there!!!!!

  7. argus

    Wonderful step-by-step tips and observations, Mrs Steamy. Thanks!
    I would’ve eaten the fish and soba by the fourth shot though — that is, if the dog hadn’t gotten to it first.

  8. Grifola frondosa

    It’s too bad you can’t take a one from column A and two from column B (so to speak).

    Of course, I’d love to be a fly on the wall and listen to the cool, calm Mrs. Steamy while taking the pix. That must have been a riot.
    ;-)

  9. joey

    How I would love to be able to attend a cooking class taught by you and Bee! Come to Asia people! Hehe :)

    Thanks for sharing your photo tips! They are very helpful!

  10. RecipeGirl

    It appears that I go through the same process as you… thinking while cooking and the shots that are taken. My hungry family is patient while I’m shooting away! Nice shots you have there of that fish dish.

  11. WillD

    Love the photo tips! Of course, my problem is that I remember to take pics only AFTER I start eating. Must. Resist. Hunger.
    And, I am definitely looking forward to the Steamy cookbook.

  12. Larry

    DAMN! I’ll be out of town that weekend. How far in advance do you know when you’re going to be in LA? I’d love to take your classes with my wife.

  13. Brave Sir Robin

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

    I am learning so much every time you post on food photography. Mine have already improved exponentially!!!!

    You rock out loud!!

  14. katy

    oh my goodness he is so cute!!! i liked all the photos — one thing that makes me nuts in food photography is how different photos look different on different monitors — my imac at home makes everything looks really crisp and bright, and my POS work computer makes everything look about 10 shades darker bc it’s not properly calibrated. ugh!

  15. amyjo smith

    hmmm…if only my children held as still as your fish.
    i don’t need to take pics of *our* dinner lol – unless someone needed to see what camden’s whining about on his wheat/egg/nut free diet – he’s 12 – you know that’s the end of the world right? no flour tortillas, hot dog/hamburger buns…no MAYO :D

    *some of those photos were so bad i laughed even before your photo comments – the lighting i’d have been trying to fix with ps curves and kubota actions :D

  16. Marvin

    Wow, I thought all of those photos were good. I really need to start paying more attention to the pics I take. btw, I purchased 2 of those lowel lights from that blog post of yours. I’ve only had to use one of them so far, so I kinda wish I didn’t go for two. But I’m happy with it so far.

  17. cindy

    i second joanna! come to seattle! (the pics look great…can’t wait till the cookbook is out!)

  18. Christine

    Thanks for putting all the time and effort into the slideshow and commentaries – definitely very helpful for people like me trying to get the hang of food photography. If you do more of these, it’d also be great if you showed the setup for the picture like you did in one of your previous posts (ok, ok, I’m being greedy…). Love the blog and the pictures – keep up the great work! I’m looking forward to the cookbook!

  19. Deborah

    I loved that! And although my photography is crap next to yours, it really is good to see that not every shot is amazing!!

  20. veron

    Love the montages. Usually my failings in photography is my patience because I want to eat the food! Oh I got the card yesterday…tooo cool!

  21. Suzana

    Any plans to come to Europe for classes? ;)
    Brilliant photos, as usual. Thanks for sharing those secrets. Can’t wait for the book!

  22. Liz Longenecker

    What a gorgeous photo… I hope I make something that pretty one day.

    Stan and I are moving back to Florida in a few months (Jacksonville), so if you’re ever teaching a class there please let us know.

    Mwah!

  23. Mrs. L

    Loved the little peek into your photography process. I’ve had a lightbox since Christmas…I think I may have to get it out and use it!

  24. Nilmandra

    Thanks for taking the time and effort to document your photo-taking and thought process. It’s always enlightening to learn from people who take such lovely and inspiring photos (and knowing that they have to work under the pressure of hungry families too!).

  25. Melinda

    I agree with the others that said they would have settled for any of them. It is interesting to see how those specks of ginger can look so large or how you said they appear like a huge pimple when they are in the wrong place!
    So Becks (Golden Balls) is hot in USA now? Interesting.
    Can’t you get a teaching gig in London? Try harder, girlie!

  26. Donald

    I really appreciate your photo lesson! You have already waaaaaay helped me with the lights. My photos have improved so much, well, at least I think so.

    I take about 20 shots, while the food gets cold, contact sheet them in PS CS3 and go to work. It is a refreshing hobby considering I program computers all day. Now I get to actually USE software instead on writing it.

    BTW, if you send me your head shot, I can fit you into that pic. I got PS skills!

  27. Kevin

    That kampachi photos looks really good. I liked seeing the other photos and your thoughts on them. I have been trying to improve my food photographs as well.

  28. dp

    As someone else said, I wouldn’t have seen the imperfections if you hadn’t pointed them out!

    Now, if you want something to Photoshop, how about that spread of Beckham (and wife) in W magazine a while back?? I get giddier than a teenager just thinking about him :-)

  29. kat

    crossing my fingers and toes that you get a chance to take a real photo with Becks!

  30. Mike

    Congrats on the cooking classes! I also enjoyed the gallery of photos that didn’t make the cut–I know what I do, but its nice to see the thought process of other food bloggers out there. And of course, the photos looked fantastic!

  31. Charlene

    Jaden I have been reading your blog for a while but this is my first post! Your pictures are awesome and thanks so much for shedding some light on food photography for some of us clueless people out here :) I just started my blog and am learning food photography, lighting etc. Its definitely a challenge!

  32. lifeinrecipes

    Jaden, thanks again for another photo lesson. You are a fantastically comprehensive instructor and I so appreciate your generosity.

  33. amy purple

    Congrats on the cooking classes. Let me know if you ever have any in Chicago! We’re going to our first cooking class this weekend actually. I signed up my husband and I for one for our 3rd wedding anniversary (it was march 10th). I’m looking forward to it!

  34. daphne

    U r going places Jaden. Lucky people who get to go to your cooking classes. Good luck and have lots of fun!

  35. Christine

    First, love the pic of you and Beckham together! I also want to hear more about the contest. Do you ever get to Delaware for cooking classes?

  36. Dani

    Great info with the photos…thanks so much for the lesson!!
    I hope to make it to your class this time…how long are you in LA?

  37. Jaime

    great post! i am super picky about my photos too and need to work on the lighting. i never have my food done when it is still light out so i have to deal w/crappy indoor lighting. maybe i need a reflector? (had no idea what that was! LOL)

  38. iron stef

    thanks for talking about food photos! Tips and examples are always helpful! And your photos are always so pretty, so I know I’m getting some good info :)

  39. passionfordecor

    Hi Jaden!

    I’m a new follower. I can’t tell you enough how much I LOVE your blog! But most importantly, you candidness and wit. I’ve always wondered how other food bloggers do it (take spectacular photos that is). It feels really good to finally know that I’m not alone :)…oh, and my husband has gotten used to waiting for his food. Thank you for inspiring us!

  40. Ross Griswold

    Such an awesome website!! Loved your explanation on how to roll grated ginger!
    Love to cook-this is the best-can’t wait for the book-also photograph!

  41. Amanda Lee

    I know this is 2 years after the fact, but… Thank you, so much, Jaden. For taking the time to post pictures, slideshows, and comments of why each pictures work (or not). This is invaluable for me learning the ropes of food photography. Thank you thank you thank you!!!

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