#WFHCafé with Andrew Scrivani, Episode 12: Tomato & Watermelon Three Ways
Hi. And welcome back to the work from Home Cafe. My name is Kate Desa. I am the co host with our instructor and New York Times, but a New York Times food photographer And risk Rabbani. I'm really excited to have him on today is gonna be our last episode for a little while. We hope to have a little back soon, but we're going to make a little bit of dummy summer salads today. Andrew went to the farmers market this morning, and he's going to show us how to make a couple different, really delicious items for this hot weather. So welcome to the show you Andrew. Glad to have you back excited for this episode. Me too. Yeah, we deserve a little bit of a summer break. We've been out three months and we're gonna take a little break and we'll regroup and see where we're gonna be in the fall. But for now, I got my flashy summer apron on the ass and I got all kinds of fresh and seasonal items from the farmers market this morning and my garden. Ah, and I figured why I turned on the stove where it's ...
basically 100 degrees everywhere in this country right now. And I'm sure other parts of the world and much here in the Southern Hemisphere. It is hot. So, um, one of the things that I think is really essential in both cooking and photography is the concept of seasonality and understanding and embracing seasonality when it comes to fresh ingredients and what is going to be? Basically, you're gonna need to put on your table as to eat or to photograph. And it is definitely a theme that runs through my work. And everything should feel seasonal when you're when you're working, especially in a newspaper or a magazine that has basic elements of seasonality built in because of the way we publish. But I think ultimately certain types of foods, specifically the ones that working with today are decidedly summer. So we have some very summer things happening today. I'm excited about it. Right before we were talking about Ah, you know, right before talking before the show started, you were telling me a little bit about some seasonal crops that are in New Jersey. Um, I'm from the Midwest originally, and I was kind of surprised they were very similar tomatoes, corn, watermelon. And we were joking about how yeah, New Jersey is called the Garden State, and people tend to not associate Ah, New Jersey with the robust amount of crops that has. It's like, you know, you the Jersey store came on, and that's that's what we all think about way. Really want you to forget about the jersey. Um, we want you to forget about that. It really hard, hard. Just push it out of your mind hard. Yes, New Jersey has spectacular produce, and right now we're getting into our corn season. We're getting into our tomato season. We're right in the middle of our peach season. Watermelons are abundant and beautiful, so we do have some really nice seasonal produce available right now. So today I went and I bought two primary ingredients for all three of our dishes. We're gonna do three dishes. Um, I bought a big watermelon, Uh, and make sure you have cut that up, and I also bought some beautiful tomatoes. We have some heirloom sound will work with today and particularly a white like working with heirlooms because of the color on the texture. That happens where there's not this uniform. Look to all of them. So they really do make for beautiful photography. So are three dishes today are going to be a watermelon tomato gazpacho, which is a blender soup. We're gonna make a watermelon and feta salad would look with mint. And also, I'm going to make a tomato carpaccio, which is gonna be very simple with some basil and, uh, just a balsamico and olive oil and sultan. So it's super simple, beautiful, colorful, And we're going to do a little bit of a summer sort of picnic. Uh, claw, hot, hot weather picnic layout today. So that's where we're at. All right. Sounds good. So you have people from watching from all over the world. We have Scotland. We have Illinois. We have Portland. So everyone is excited to see what this episode break. Yes. So I'm happy that you're here. I want to drop you down onto my table, tops. I could show you some of the beautiful stuff that I picked up today. So we have You could see my lovely apron today. I still in my life because I thought it was very seasonal. Yes. So, um, we have some of these beautiful heirloom tomatoes already showed you this gigantic watermelon that I bought. We're gonna cut that up shortly, But I have these again. I took some basil that is just growing like wildfire after the last time we did. I also have some fresh mint that's been growing really well, as in the garden as well. And then some of the other things. I have some Parmesan Reggiano on some feta. A little bit of chili, some nice. Ah, these are going to go. It's garnish in our gazpacho. So handsome, really beautiful fresh ingredients. So I think what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna start with the, um we're gonna start with the gazpacho. So what I want to do is first get a cup measurement, and I'm gonna cut up two of these tomatoes because two of these tomatoes equal about a about a pound. That's what we need for this one. So they put the others aside, gonna bring over our ah, blender, and I'm gonna cut these core. I spent some time today sharpening the knives so we can cut and core these a little bit. I'm gonna cut out just this stem core you could see as it's really beautiful, like range of color and these air more. These are both heirloom and be steak because the heirlooms weren't really red, and I wanted that variation and color. So I got two different styles today. Those accord. I'm gonna cut these into cysts. I believe. Uh, well, I guess I'm just cubing them. We're gonna miss Cuba and see my so I just can't get over It is already looks delicious because it's just so colorful. The summer season, fruits and vegetables just It makes it easy to make beautiful photos. So that's one cook. So obviously each of these halves he's about it's about it's about a cup, so it we're going to go four cups, so we got four halves and you could see that there's this really colorful were nice. It's going right and tender. I got a pretty big blender, so I think I don't have to work in batches, as is usually recommended. So what did you ever like? You know, you're still cutting these a fairly small and dicing them up. Is this Do you ever just toss a tomato? You know, half a tomato in to make a good Scott. Good spot. So excuse me or Oh, do you always recommend doing smaller dices like this? I mean, unless you have a new industrial blender like this one, which is a vital mix, I would recommend. Probably cutting it like I could probably have those. I mean, this thing cuts through anything. So I was worried about that, Um, eso you know. OK, so we put this aside for now, because now we have to dig into our watermelon. This is what I'm excited to see you touch because I have no idea how to approach a watermelon. Well, there's two different ways to do this. You can go long ways and get that big smile half of ah, watermelon, which we're not really going for. Um, we're not going for looks here cause we're gonna basically cut up a good portion of this watermelon. And the other way is to go right down the middle, right and go right down the middle through the half. So I kind of go this way, and then I roll and I just keep going around until I come through the other side. And then I have two beautiful perhaps so I'm gonna take 1/2 of this. Put it aside. Main flipped it over. Go from end, Do the same thing. One. Get in that slot to now. I have 2/ from here because I want a cube. This I'm gonna cut it into slices like I would if I were serving it in, like, kind of inch and 1/2 swaths and then and cut this end off because I know there's not gonna be much meat there flexion Eat whatever you wanna call it. And then what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna take my smaller knife because I don't want get to one. We'll be here and I'm gonna go right down to the bottom in a pinch this year cause I know, but my knife is inside the rhyme So if I pinch it outside the rind, then I make that nice big chunk. So are you gonna d c thes before you put him in the blender or you're not worried about that? Well, block, this is a seedless Ah, it's almost ruined all our props, by the way. But, um, the this was supposed to be seedless, but it is Ah, got some seeds in it, so I'm not quite sure. Let me take a look and see how many seeds. I don't think it's quite very seedy. See, Huh? Um, it's not the most of them are. Most of them are just little white seeds. So take this white off. So you've got some really nice say what we got here. Yeah, it is. Just a couple now. Just cluck a few of them out. Most of them. Most of this is fine false advertising. Imagine you broke. Imagine you brought the watermelon back. Three seed in it. Mama would look at you like you out of your mind. Certainly. So you know, diesel blend up probably won't even notice them. They're harmless in the same. You know, I was thinking the same thing about in tomatoes. You know, that's not really concerned about both know the seeds or the skins in this situation. Yeah, the recipe doesn't really call for, um this is gonna be about four cups of water melon. So I think this is gonna have to go like a big, like a big cup like that. Want. With the delay on the internet, it probably is really exciting to watch me do that perfume that I might cut my finger off. Let let Let me tell you, I'm not moving that fast assed fast, as you might think. Okay, we got this is three and one more, and that's probably good enough like that. That's kind of piece of this and see how sweet it is. And I'm I'm already forgetting How many cups of tomatoes are we putting? The same proportion of watermelon tomato in this on £1 of ripe tomatoes was about the same amount in cups. Didn't really give us a cup measurement. I did it that way just so we would have it. But it's ah, It's roughly an equal amount of, um, watermelon and tomato. So So now we have this and we're gonna put in some lemon juice, going to try to get the pit. Actually, I'm not worried about the pits because I broke this over. So I'm gonna squeeze basically the juice of one lemon in there, which is usually roughly like 2 to 3 tablespoons out of a good out of a decent sized lemon. But this is it. Sort of. These are guideline measurements. Human you might want a little bit more lemon and a little less so one lemon will pretty much do it. I'm gonna go. Uh, let's see. Okay, we got or lemon in there, and then we're gonna dio half a cup of chopped celery with that already portioned and you could see lips. There goes. This is gonna be interesting how it breaks down. Okay, We're gonna put a little salt in a little pepper and a little olive oil, A little salt, which is basically like with the teaspoon to two big fat pinches and then some good twists of black pepper and is celery traditional in a gazpacho. Are Is that Andrew? Serve on you. Take. This is based on ah, Martha Rose Shulman recipe that I worked on. Now we're going with what are we going with? Two tablespoons of olive oil. Um, and mark the rows usually kind of goes with what is mostly Mediterranean sort of tradition, and then she kind of rips off of that. But I do think that in terms of gazpacho on a watermelon, gazpacho is is relatively well known sort of common gazpacho, but it's mostly a tomato soup. So I think we're probably in the realm of traditional, but I don't know that we're necessarily, um, sort of steadfast, traditional. And And gazpacho is traditionally a Mediterranean dish or is an Italian dish. I'm forgetting. I will just mean more Spanish. Yeah, okay. Which would be more of a Mediterranean sort of base cuisine, you know, especially in the hot kind of areas. Like I spent the summer in my orca once, and there's a lot of guys spot you're going on in my orca because it was so hot in the sun. Yeah. Okay. Forgive my sound. I'm going toe Throw my thing on here. Let's say can you can you guys see? Let's see if I put you over here like this, right on the blender theme. The magic of a vita mix. All right, no problem. Blenda went through all of that without a problem. So let's check it out back in here. We'll be a little crooked. Hold up. There we go. So you could see you got, like, kind of nice and full. Me, but it smells great. You could see it's really smooth. It's got that beautiful Simon color. A combination of the tomato and the border melon. Not lumpy at all. So I think we're gonna What we're gonna do is set that aside for the time being, because we got a couple of the things to do, and it will be just fine. Uh, when we're ready to serve it. So it is gonna put that over here, and this one is in the books. All right. Okay. Dish to is our watermelon and feta salad, which I think we're gonna need. Let's see how much, uh, watermelon that we're gonna use. Okay, We're going to use probably a little bit more than this, so I'm gonna have to cut another couple of slices out of that because we're going to cut them into cubes. Sort of like that size. He's nice. Chunky, big chunks. That's the piece. I bet you could see me. Now. What about this salad? This salad I see all the time on summer menus. You know, watermelon, mint, Beddoe, or sometimes goat cheese. What are the origins of the salad? Do you know? I think in places where watermelon Again, I feel like this has more of a Mediterranean flair to it. Yeah. Um, And again I'm referring back to my time with Martha Rose, Uh, and and the things that inspired her. I've done a number of watermelon salads in my career, and they all tend to lean into this sort of Mediterranean, sometimes even middle Eastern. Yeah, sensibility. And I do ah, do enjoy the fact that meant sort of Is it a little bit of a giveaway on the feta is a little bit of a give away. You know, I think those two particular ingredients and traditionally associated with Greek food, Mediterranean style foods, maybe Middle Eastern. So I think that we're probably safely and again in these kind of hot region, uh, places where we end up having these types of foods available to us. So I think that's probably enough four hour salad. Uh, we're gonna mix a little bit of a dressing for this, which we're gonna have, but I'm gonna do it with, uh, cider vinegar instead of sherry vinegar. I like site of going to go in this. So going to do, uh, what are we doing? We're doing two tablespoons of vinegar. Do you have a specific apple cider vinegar? You like? I usually you. What's the brand I use. Um I know it's it's usually in my studio, but I couldn't find it here, So I ended up just buying the generic sort of supermarket version. Which that isn't Bragg's. Uh, yes. Stops. Yeah, that's yeah, that's when I have tonight. My So this is a really simple dressing. Uh, we got two tablespoons of vinegar, three of extra virgin olive oil. It never hurts. Toe. Still have these lemons around for a little bit of lemon juice in there. Squeeze. Just maybe what amounts to about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice. And I think that in and of itself give that a little stir. I also think this works with balls on ago. But since we're going to do balsamico with our carpaccio, there we go little dressing, and we're gonna plate this on this lovely platter. So we're gonna grow just kind of fill this. Is that a sneeze? It was sorry. No, it's like, whoa, here. Uh, you know, I was thinking one of the things I've seen that kind of gives it a Middle Eastern player. I think I've seen it, Um, with Duca on, like a saddled like this little Duca, and it gives that a little bit of the savory nous and a lit like a little spice. But still, you're getting all that sweet nous. And, uh, yeah, that That kind of when you said you seem to Middle Eastern? Um, yes, variations of this. That's that's what just popped in my head. I want to fill this platter up some cuts. Um, or like, I cooked some watermelon up since we're gonna be done with the watermelon after this and add a few pieces here, so I'm sort of I'm sort of cooking cooking, you know? Yeah, I'm cooking and styling simultaneous here, because obviously there is really no difference between the two. So here, the things that go into this there's a little bit. Obviously, we're gonna do our feta, have a nice Greek feta, and I'm gonna on a Sprinkle generously. I think we're probably about two ounces of this. Okay? Yeah. Did I like Kreimer just to do this? I like to crumble it myself. I don't really like to buy the pre crumbled. Yeah, let me ask you. Did you get this? So I've been, um, recently seeing a lot more better that's actually still in its salt water. Yes, that was okay. And that's usually when I go for it, it just stays a lot fresher and stays a lot. Ah, you know, let us such a delicate flavor that I think a lot of the time you lose that flavor really easily. So, yeah, I always go for the one that's actually, you know, in this in the salt water. Like like you have there. Yeah, I I reserved it because I'm not going to use it all so I could put it back then. What we're going to do is we have some fresh mint from the garden. Um, I'm just gonna sort of just tear pieces of this and added in again, I'm soaking. I I pulled me straight from the garden, so I didn't soak them in cold water this time because they were pretty fresh. I just put them in a vase of water, and we got that and the thing. The last part of this, um, what we're gonna do is act before we put the dressing on. Actually, you know what? I'm gonna put the dressing first and with a spoon it over, so I get a good distribution, gonna have a nice kind of ass. Add something acidic to the sweetness, so it's got a lot of believers in here. I thought. It's very complex for something that's just fruit and cheese and yeah and herbs. It's got a lot of complexity in terms of we had. So we added, You know, we're getting this sort of vinegary Piccoli flavor plus the sweet plus the herb, plus that mommy of the, uh, cheese and what's missing here. The only thing that's missing is a little bit of heat. So what I'm gonna do is have a little bit of Aleppo pepper. Aleppo is Middle Eastern spice. It also adds a little bit of color and it kind of nights to get that on the white cheese, and that's going to give us a little bit of heat. So I think some mean no Surat would be very proud of us. We have assault acid back on heat in this dish. Obviously, a lot of the salt comes from the feta, but so we have this really beautiful platter, so now to dish to is prepared and ready, and that could stay over there for a second, and now we're onto our carpaccio. Now, obviously, the style carpaccio is a style of of cutting something and eating something that's very thinly sliced. Right, So we're gonna make carpaccio, uh, out of these beautiful, different colored from colored heirloom tomatoes. So I sharpen my knife today I got it really honed. Well, and I'm gonna try to get, like, beautifully thin slices of this, especially after I get through the ends closed, these wannabe almost transparent. You see, I'm using my hand as a guide and for and in this situation, would you ever opt for a mandolin instead of slicing like this? You know, I'm not a huge fan of the mandolin for something like this, because sometimes I think it's a little bit rough, especially if your mandolin isn't like, absolutely razor sharp. It could end up sort of smashing the Yeah tomato. Yeah, that makes them. This is a very sort of a delicate on. This is why I sharpen the knife so much because it is a kind of a delicate operation. See, like that one is a little too thin because I missed the edge so we'll have toe in another one, and I'm I'm probably like starting my blade and you could see that maybe, I don't know, 1/16 of an inch. I mean, it's really fit and take our time. Then you guys can meditate on my my cutting here while you watch things here. You're rooting for me not to cut myself. Exactly. And here you can hear it from here. I've been very lucky one time A friend of mine, uh, whose name is Greg Gordon. He was up. He's a chef in Portland. He's a New Yorker. And, um, we went out and interviewed him once out in his restaurant in Portland. It's called departure p D X, which is a really cool restaurant. And he was also on top chef and a bunch of the stuff. He's a really, really cool bag. But I remember one time we were interviewing him, and I guess the question about, um, you, uh, what happens if you know the chefs cut themselves quite often. You know, when they're cooking and what he said, it really stuck with me. He said, If we have a chef in our kitchen who cuts themselves with a knife after all, the training that they've had, We have to have them drug tested. And I'm like, Wow, that's intense, Intense, You know, like so that's really showing you that, you know, like any other repetitive skill that you acquire, whether it be sports or artistically or, um, you know, anything that requires sort of a physical, repetitive repetition of movement. Um, after a while, it should become second nature. And I think that's sort of what that talk told me and taught me about that particular thing. And I thought about that. Wow, Look at the beauty in there. That's like a watermelon color. Yeah, all of these tomatoes, it's gonna make a beautiful dish. Um, you know, it really taught me that if you're serious about your craft, you have to develop these skills in order to do it well safely. And you know, one of the things when stylists come and work with me, especially new style. It's people at either I haven't worked with before or who are coming to me for training. Um, I often put them through some knife skills before we we do any of this. And one of the things I taught my daughter when she was little was how to handle a knife so that she could ah, um, safely operate in the kitchen. And she's, you know, luckily been very good. And then one day she had a Band Aid on her hand and said, Well, what happened? Um, and her answer was very similar to when you speak to any chef that you see who has cut themselves with a knife and it's I cut myself while washing it. And that's pretty much the last time I cut myself with a knife. Yeah, I was when I cut myself washing it. So that's where you gotta be. Careful. Okay, so now the assembly aspect of this becomes part of the food styling part, so I could have I could do a couple of things here, can kind of kind of go right up to the edge plate and start Teoh think I want to do it and I don't want to do Ah, concentric rings. I want to do so of alternating colors. I don't know if I have enough, but I'm gonna try and we're going to see if we can get it all the way around here and build us in now. We haven't. Actually, we've seen you. Ah, you know, place do placement like this, but not as intricate of this quite yet. So I'm very interested to see how you place in style this plate. Cool. Yeah. Um, we, uh quite often this is the laborious aspect of of doing food. Styling is kind of working through the patterns and things like this when we're when we're building out a plea. Because if you make a mistake along the way, you have to go back and start over. So I'm trying to keep my, uh this is ah, Riel test of my teaching and doing kind of wave of working about that. And then I got to do the green and then a red and then then I need it all the way around like that. So now I got there we go. That's first way. Beautiful. And then we're gonna start there were going to do a different a little bit of a different pattern. You know, it's funny. I was inspired by, uh, one of my clients. Um Chris car. Well, I did a cookbook with, uh, several years back who posted a picture of a carpaccio that I did in her book. Uh, this morning, sort of. It was sort of a, um you sort of a, uh it was sort of Ah, a metal situation. Yeah. Oh, wow. That looks beautiful. So now we concarneau Clarity's out a little bit, covered the edge of the plate, so it sort of feels like a flower. Yeah, that's really nice. Yeah, that's really getting their, um Okay, so the other thing I want to do with this one, it's really simple. I'm going to just add some kind of hole basil leaves, um, and just sort of indiscriminately sort of let them go where they want to go, and then I can redistribute later, man. It's fragrant. This thesis, Basil, it's so fragrant and pretty right now. Um, everything about this dish is so pretty Everyone hot jumping in and saying how gorgeous. And what a beautiful plate this is so far. So we haven't even taken a photo of it yet. I have to show off a little bit of my food styling, even though, you know, most people know that I do the photography, but the styling is something I've taken a lot of pride in when I've done it and it's Ah, it's really this part of the art form really excites me. It's sort of how I got started doing this because actually, the first thing I ever did for the Times, um, before I took a picture for them in the section like actual food picture was was food style. I did some food styling for them. So now I'm gonna just drizzle with olive oil generously. Then I'm gonna put some balsamico. Now you can use regular ball Islamic. You could use a glaze. You can kind of splash it. That's what I'm doing. I'm just doing little splashes and it's going to just settle in. It won't stay where it is, So it's sort of even though it's maybe a little bunched up, and then I'm gonna take one of these basil flowers that we had in one of our others a couple weeks ago. Yeah, there we have or compact. Yo Wow, that was beautiful. It was one of the most beautiful dishes we've done yet, so no cooking. I haven't broken a sweat. It's literally been about 20 minutes, and we have three beautifully prepared dishes So first I'm gonna, um The last thing I want to do is he's plate our gazpacho, which has been sitting here waiting for us patiently. So I have these really pretty, uh, dessert cups. Sort of double a soup cups. Uh, these were sent to me by my friends at Is Willing Company, who provides me with a lot of our cookware and, uh, provides me with our knives, and I'm gonna fill these up no. 9/10 of the way. And then the last thing I'm gonna do let's give it a little garnish. Oh, celery, no. Like that one? No, a little garnish his salary, a little political pepper. I'm also going to give our carpaccio a little twist of pepper and a little Sprinkle of salt. I know you're off camera a little bit here, but my apologies Got everything out here in front of me, okay? And I think we're ready. It'll take pictures, so yeah, let's do it. Let's get over to the table and take some pictures, and we're gonna do group shots here because I think this is about our summer menu, and I'm gonna take you over and get set up mostly how we're doing. So there's a table top, all right. And while Sanders bringing over all of our dishes today, I'll remind everybody This is creative live TV. You're watching the work from Home Cafe with Andrew Screw Bonnie. Today is gonna be our last episode for a little while. We're gonna take a little late summer break, and we hope team come back in the fall with some new recipes. But today we are making tomato and watermelon salads. He just plated them. No cook, uh, all only some knife work and some beautiful plate placement, and we're getting ready to take some photos of it. So Andrew is a near times food photographer and a creativelive instructor and an author of his own food photography book. If you haven't checked it out, it's called. That photo makes me hungry. And I promise you, if you paged through it, it will absolutely make you hungry. It's amazing. A fruit photography book that you should definitely check out. So he looks like he's just about set up with the table. I am. And, um, I'm going to spare you the, uh the fun of my of my apron. Right now because it is hot because it is plastic in the front. And I really didn't want to mess up my new T shirt because I got this cool T shirt that I'm resting. My friends Ah, um, restaurant called Eastwood, which is super cool in the lower East side. So All right, let's get started. Um, I need to get higher, so I'm gonna go get my stool, which seems to shoot on. Oh, are you know what? Rather than that I think we're going to do that trick we did last time. And I'm gonna put it on the floor. We'll see if we can reposition you here, and you could see I'm gonna put it on the floor because that nice light here on the floor, I like the color of my floor, which is sort of a blonde would And I think that I could stand over it effectively. And I've seen I see people doing this on instagram all the time because, you know, they're doing there home versions, off food photography, and they're getting up high and standing over the food. It's a little like what I'm doing right now. Yeah, Just Iook. Kate I can see your feet and we can see the plates on the ground. As I was just gonna say, this is Ah, a food photography at home hack that people don't actually, because if you haven't, you can actually put the surface on the floor to if you have a surface that you like and stand over it, that's really pretty. What I do have here is I want to have sort of this the card, and I'm gonna create a little bit of a bounce here to see if I have a little bit more balanced. And then I'm going to get my little stool so I can stand up just even a little bit higher. I'm using a 50 millimeters lens right now so that it's giving me plenty of room. But now I want to drop over the top. So I'm gonna take this, and then we're gonna have toe. I want actually some shadowing on this side. So I'm gonna flip that card around to the black sides, get above it. If I fall on live television, it's all part of it's all for the art. I've done that before. Oh, yeah, there we go. Joe, you can see Oh, yeah, Yeah, that looks kind of balance of colors, and it's really summary. And I'm gonna kind of just zoom in on a couple of things like that. We have the beautiful, big kind of overarching shot. If then get that and you could see I'm a little under exposed there, which is where I like to be for something that's colorful. Yeah, total. I think when you are when you're under exposed and you're this colorful, you absolutely are gonna be able to push more color and post, which is where I want to be here can also switch around angles and go side lit and kind of come down this way for the gazpacho owes and shoot them from the top. What I don't want to do is put my back to light. That's definitely that's the known over here. I'm a every position. He's a little so I can kind of shoot the watermelon that would. And I noticed you're not using any utensils to prop this one with, isn't it? What was You know, your thought process as you were setting this up? Well, I don't think we have like any sort of. I mean, this gazpacho we could sip out of the cup. This would obviously just put onto a plate and use a fork. And same with this. I mean, fork and knife would be nice for carpaccio as well. But honestly, this is sort of more like the presentation set up rather than Anak actual eating kind off. Uh, you know, presentation. I mean, we could mess this up a little bit, you know, pull some stuff out. But I really like the way this looks on its own right now on this kind of this is where the floor situation becomes a little bit harder. I don't mind getting on the floor, but, um, this is definitely Yeah, that's pretty. Um, the lower angle is a little more challenging, but I do think a lot of time on my stomach on a surfboard so I can say Yeah, exactly. So it's not an uncommon posture for me. That's pretty. Me show you watch me lay around on the floor of my Oh, yeah, that's nice. Yeah, that's really beautiful. So I want to do before we break this down and kind of I spent some time talking is I want to take up shot off these up here where I could get a little bit more of a table level and go out to the sun outside something picking up some of the glare. Yeah, exactly. So, like, again not gives me that really beautiful light distribution. And you could see that light peaking in over the right corner. Yeah, that's beautiful. Really pretty. And, uh, you know, like, I know we live in the overhead an awful lot in food, atomic, me these days. But, you know, there's this dynamic look that you get with, um, looking at a backlit shot or something that has a little bit more Captain Dimension. Well, I'm out of breath. Do you hear me? Talking? Moving, laying on the floor. What's my heart rate? I got my got my apple watch on it. Um, nice. Really, really pretty super happy with that. Check it out. Look at this. Shimmer off the top of the super. Oh, yeah, That is something beautiful. That's something you can't get in an overhead shot. Yeah, that's exactly the same. Depth and dimension is just not the same. And it becomes sort of when we there. I think maybe some of the people who watched us do this over the 12 weeks have said, Does he ever wear shoes? Um, the answer is at the beach, very rarely know. And taking a couple of kind of tighter build horizontal of our That's too dark. One of the things I used to talk about a lot of filling the frame with food. And it's one of those really kind of truisms about food photography. Who? That one. Nice. You're gonna like that. Oh, yeah, that's so nice that, you know, early on in my career, I did a lot of macro photography, and I was always very fond of shooting that way. And, uh, this will be a nice group shot, sort of abstract. Yeah, I think a lot of sometimes people struggle when they're doing food photos of how to use the blank space of a table. And typically, And if you were just gonna give a rule of thumb trying to, um Oh, that's beautiful. Trying to fill the the shot with as much food as possible is the route you would go, you know, a lot of times. Yes. In the beginning part of my career. That was usually the go to because it was much easier to understand the frame. It wasn't so complex that I was I was needing to ah, company or account for everything that was happening inside the frame. So if I could control that where Okay, well, I'm taking a picture of food. Let me find the most beautiful aspect of this food and get back in my frame. And until I really had a grasp of composition, I understood what looked good about food. I understood that singing in and of itself was beautiful. And if I could capitalize on that part of it, um, that I can grow from there. So it's why I got very comfortable with 100 millimeter macro lens. I started very, very close on things. Some of the earliest pictures I took, um, were of these maple Candies that we made and there were no bigger than nickel. There were really tiny. Um, and I I shot them and I filled the frame with these beautiful little Candies. And it was when it was then when I started to see, like how light would play in a frame, even a sprain that small on then? From there it started to kind of understand how I could make that bigger and bigger and bigger as I got better at composition and I got further away from the subject that the rest of the story had to be told inside of that frame. And then I had this very interesting revelation during filming Team Marco, Um, the film that I produced that will be coming to your streaming service in Thanksgiving. I'm hoping we're gonna be crossing those teas and dotting the I's very soon, hopefully that you'll be hearing a lot about Team Marco on my socials in the coming months. But one of the things I learned on Team Marco was one day we were filming in a gymnasium. There was a scene where all of the kids were learning how to play. Bochy and I walked into the gym and the gaffer's had just got done setting up a lighting, and I looked at the scene and I said, That's my table. That's my table set up. Except it's the size of a gymnasium, right? We had these gigantic lights coming from one direction, coming, raking across the set and on the back side of the set was a big black sail that was meant to create shadow. And I looked at that and I was like, Now I e I've come full circle, right? I've come from full circle from the guy who just understood the frame with nickel sized Candies to lighting an entire gymnasium toe. Look pretty much exactly like what my table set up looks like in terms of lighting. Like if I had brought a table into that set, dropped it in the middle of it and set up food on that table, the lighting would have looked like it does in my studio. So it was just like that was a big revelation to me in terms of scale and that everything scales up, everything scales down. And once you understand the concepts, um, you can wrap your mind around the concepts than thing about when things get bigger, it becomes a lot less scary. And I think ultimately my journey and photography has been over the course of 20 some odd years, and more is about overcoming the obstacles that fearing not knowing how to do something right and then you kind of dive in and try to figure it out or you ask questions or you look to books. So you Google, You know, my Google searches. If you were to go and look at my Google searches right now, you would see that I have still have a lot of curiosity about a lot of weird things. Like I'm looking on history stuff all the time. I'm looking up, you know, random, like, musical things. I'm always looking and learning. And I think that as, ah, as an artist, whether you be a working artist or an amateur artist whose you know, figuring out what you want to do with your art, Um, I think it's very important to understand that you're gonna consistently bi curious. And that curiosity is what's gonna drive your art. It's gonna make you better at it, and it may end up taking you in places that you never really envisioned. You know, when I left teaching full time left teaching only 12 years ago, Um, and I've obviously never left because I'm still here with you. And when I left teaching in a classroom and coaching on a field, um, if someone had told me that by I would be a published author. I have several film production credits out behind my name and have worked for The New York Times almost 20 years. I would have said that sounds crazy because I didn't have that in my plan. That wasn't a plan that I had. I didn't say, Hey, these are the things I want to accomplish in my life. It's just, uh, like my surfing like a surfing metaphor. You know, the wave took me and I just wrote it where it went. Um, and I think that I'm hopefully got some more surprises, you know, coming up in the future. But you never know. So you just kind of take it day by day and let as an artist, you just kind of figure out what it is that move you from day to day. And right now we've had a 12 week run. I'm creative live with something that just popped up in my head of when we went into Pandemic on. I knew that I was gonna be taking care of my wife at home, and she would need a lot of support because she's got a lot of things to do, uh, at her job. And, um and this was born, and we've ah, you and I have found a friendship in this, which, yeah, which we, you know, we've kind of traveled in very similar circles for many years here and now we've Ah, we've worked and found this. So this is sort of part of that wave, right? Just get on, right? Really? Totally. So this has been such a fun experience with you and I and I hope we can bring it back in the fall. Maybe not on a weekly basis. Maybe it's a monthly basis, but everybody is leading claps and is has really enjoyed watching the work from Home Cafe. Um, have a couple questions coming in about how you learned about composition. What has How can you talk a little bit about composition and how you look at it now from the beginning to the end of your not end to now? Yeah, sure. E think composition ultimately isn't just about photography. And I think that you have to understand that when you're looking at are in general in that things like proportion and space, negative space and the way those things move you when you're looking at a painting or when you're looking at a piece of architecture or you're looking at a photograph, whether or not it's your particular genre of photography. So I look at a lot of different genres of photography, and I think that, like last night, I was watching show on TNT called The Alienist, which is based on the Calum Kerr novels of the same name. And there was just every show hasn't be one beautiful shot, and it's usually like this beautifully center framed. And quite often they put the code of fanning at the center of those frames with this beautiful symmetry around her and the way it's lit and the way it's composed and it speaks to you, right, And even if you don't recognize it as composition, it's that, uh, the aesthetics of it is something that really appeals to an audience, right? And I think that they certain things about composition or universal right and understanding that balance or lack of balance, or whatever it is that the artist is intending to make you feel whether they're trying to make you feel balanced and comfortable with that composition cause Composition tells a story. If I want you to feel unbalanced, if I want you to feel uncomfortable, I'm gonna frame something in a very particular way. So when you look at, um, conflict photography, particularly the greats of who done photojournalism, conflict, photography and often you look at a picture and it's not innate Lee disturbing. But there's something about the way it's composed that makes you feel uncomfortable, and it's meant to be that it's meant to be off center. It's meant to keep your weight on your heels, you know, like all of the things about composition is about what gives us human comfort in the way we perceive things, the function way of things. But also, um, the things that we can do as artists to manipulate that comfort level. All right, so it's like when we're looking, when we're looking at a table full of food, if it feels natural toe I, that's good composition. But when it starts to feel uncomfortable or unbalanced, that's when you happen. And then that really becomes about instinct, right? Trust your instincts, look at something and say, Why does that feel wrong to me? The spoon is upside down. That's what I wouldn't eat it that way because I would always have the fork on the right side because I'm right handed right. And the when you think about those particular decisions when you're setting up a table setting the great majority of people in the world the right handed. So if you set up your tables to be appropriate for right handed people, the majority of people are going to read that as really comfortable. Now, of course, there might be some left handed people who look at it and go mean That makes me feel uncomfortable. But the reality is, um, the things that appeal to us on a general sense in an artistic form often are things that we're born with. These are not necessarily things that we learn. What we do learn is how to interpret them and how to manipulate them. And that's the That's the gift that you get when you even become an artist, learn from an artist, go to art school or really throw yourself into it. Is that composition in and of itself isn't the art form. Composition is the feeling that you get, you know when it's well composed, and it feels like it's making you feel the thing that the artists intend to do to feel comfort, beauty, discomfort, off balance, balance. All of those things are part of composition, so I know that was sort of a long winded, you know, dissertation on composition. But I think ultimately you trust your gut and you realize what it is about that photograph, what it is about that composition that makes you feel good. It makes you feel uncomfortable, and then you adjust it through whatever your intent is. And if your intent is to make people feel comfortable and homey and warm and all of those things, then your composition includes your propping, your spacing, your lighting foods on the table, the seasonality, the colors, all of it. And that's and that ultimately, is what composition is. Yeah, I think you know the word composition could be really intimidating to people. It's thrown around in a way that it feels like you need to be a professional toe, understand composition, but you distilled it in such a way that it's just emotion and so much of creativity is what emotion doesn't evoke in you and are you listening to those emotions and adjusting based on what? What your goal is. And I think those two still that in such a great way I'm looking at myself in this little photo on the upper corner. And I'm like I am off center. So that might want to do something like that and put myself back in the center of the frame in order to have some balance and symmetry. And it's so simple, right? You may feed. Make This might make you feel uncomfortable, right? This might make you feel a little off balance, but I just tilt the camera a little bit and I'm back in the middle of the frame. I still don't know where to put my eyes because the camera is up this sideways. But, you know, I I line. You know it's part of that, too, when you're talking about like a photograph for you or your setting a video where your eyes go really matter. So like from now, like when I have a zoom call and I want to make sure that people know that I'm looking at them and listening to them, I make sure I put their picture the centre right underneath my camera so that they know I'm looking at them. Of course, this is not an option on my IPhone. No, but I think that that next time we have you on, we should do a little class on video, video chatting, composition? Because I'm sure my producers that are in behind the scenes there watching, and, you know, they're sitting there being like, you're you're off center here, but they can't say because we're live. So I think I think it would be a fun little ah, little class on the how toe how to improve your video conferencing composition So everyone actually feels connected. Like you said, like just another. It's another layer off that sort of interpersonal sort of psychological analysis of how we interact with each other right now, this new layer And it's a really important layer of how we how we interact with one another, and eye contact and facial expression are huge part of our, um, our communication sort of tool bag, you know? And And the fact is, when I'm looking at you on the screen, um, I have I know that I'm looking at your picture on the screen, but the camera is to the left. So it's sort of unless I want to stay here and look at the feed of my black fill card. And because I was on the other side of the screen right now is the black fill card. I can look directly at that and speak to the black fill card, and I feel really genuine and sincere about the black fill card. But then again, I'm not looking at you anymore. So, um, it is an important aspect of knowing when you're meeting with people in talking with people that these things now have an extra layer of complexity to them. Um, and you know your alerts on your phone and your watch is going off and you've got people in the room and all these other things that you've never had to deal with before, So it is definitely complex. Well, Andrew, compose myself way. Go way have just hit one o'clock. So it looks like we are coming to the end of our last episode for now. So thank you again for doing this with me. It's been so much fun. And before we sign up, tell us what you have coming up in the works that you want us toe check out. Remind everybody about your book and where we can follow you and where people can stay up to date on what you're doing when we're not doing the work from Home Cafe. Absolutely. I am very active on Instagram, which is just my name at Andrews Cavani. You can find me there. I have. Right now. I'm doing a book promo with one of my cookbook authors were giving away some cookbooks on my site for Heirloom Kitchen, which is a book that I did with Anna Goss. Ah, formerly of Food 52 about Grandma recipes. Basically, it's about Grandma's recipes from all around the world, and it's a beautiful book, and we shot portraiture of the of the women in the book. The recipes are amazing. She's a great person, and she was wonderful to work with. Eso we're giving away her book. I have the Golden Girls Cookbook coming out. I think that's probably gonna be in the fall towards Christmas time. I worked on that about two years ago, which is finally coming to fruition, which is really terrific, obviously, my book. That photo makes me hungry. Makes you hungry. Makes me hungry. No. Makes you hungry. That photo makes me hungry. All right. Of course, it's weird talking about my book in the first person. Yes, my That photo makes me hungry, is my book. It's about food photography and my adventures in food photography and the people I've met. And on the things I've done along the way, you might find that interesting if you've found this interesting. Um, and and again, the movie that I produced, Team Marco is hopefully going to be hitting your streaming services in the fall. So I will be making announcements on my show on my social very soon. About that, Um, that and a couple of other things right now in producing a kids television quiz show called The Uncle Julie Kids Trivia Show. We did some of that during the pandemic, but now we're relaunching it with the sort of full crew. So that's gonna be coming out in the fall as well. So we're gonna be pretty busy. So and then hopefully I'm back your own creative life. A soften as you guys would have me and we'll, uh, we'll do some more of this