Michael Symon’s 5 in 5

A sneak preview of the second book I photographed for Chef Michael Symon – 5 in 5:  5 Fresh Ingredients + 5 Minutes = 120 Fantastic Dinners. The book will be published in early September, by Clarkson Potter. Fast & tasty food… This is my kind of cooking.

Michael Symon's 5 in 5 book cover

Guy Gourmet Cookbook

Here is a sneak peek of a cookbook I shot for Rodale in the fall. Quite a shoot: we photographed these recipes in Manhattan days after Hurricane Sandy. The city was still recovering… but the shoot went on. Look for the book in May.

mens health, rodale, jennifer may, cookbook, food photographer

Men’s Health, CIA & Sandy

It’s been a busy few weeks! Hurricane Sandy, a Nor’Easter, a cookbook for Men’s Health, and currently working on a project for the Culinary Institute of America. All the while running all around NYC and the Hudson Valley with Babes. Here is a document of events, in images:

In Williamsburg with Babes, after racing the nor’easter so we could shoot a cookbook for Men’s Health.
Working with food stylist Paul Grimes
Summer in the studio
The first signs of sun – seen from the studio windows – after a week of storms including the brutal Hurricane Sandy
Back in the Hudson Valley. Working on a new project for the Culinary Institute of America.
Wringing out an herb infusion, CIA style.

Michael Symon’s Carnivore Cookbook

Michael Symon’s latest book, Carnivore, hits the shelves on October 16th. I’m excited about this book. We shot it last fall, when I was 6 months pregnant, including a trip to Michael’s home in Cleveland, OH. Here are a few shots from the book, and I have already cooked two recipes from my advance copy, and everything is as tasty now as I remember it being on set.

Chef Michael Symon, Carnivore cookbook, Jennifer May photographerChef Michael Symon, Carnivore cookbook, Jennifer May photographerChef Michael Symon, Carnivore cookbook, Jennifer May food photographerChef Michael Symon, Carnivore cookbook, Jennifer May food photographer, Cleveland

Susan Feniger’s Street Cookbook

Susan Feniger’s Street food cookbook was recently published (by Clarkson Potter), and here are a few shots from the book. I was three weeks pregnant when I shot this book in Los Angeles and had to tell the team what was up, because they kept making the most delicious and extravagant cocktails every night after shooting. Their puzzled faces when I said no on the first couple of nights were priceless.

Chef Susan Feniger, Street Cookbook, photographed by Jennifer MayChef Susan Feniger, Street Cookbook, photographed by Jennifer MayChef Susan Feniger, Street Cookbook, photographed by Jennifer MayChef Susan Feniger, Street Cookbook, photographed by Jennifer May

Rahm Fama Cookbook Shoot

On set in Woodstock, NY this week, shooting Chef Rahm Fama’s upcoming cookbook for Clarkson Potter. Let me just say, we are cooking and shooting and eating a lot of meat and vegetable sides, and it is tasty. Rahm is the best. I’m so lucky to get to work with high energy, excited, positive folks.

Rahm Fama and the cutest little stuffed quail.
Handsome man, handsome steak
Rahm, my man, and in his arms the reason my blog is out of date. Clearly, she likes a steak as much as her mama.

People’s Pops Cookbook

Introducing a popsicle cookbook I photographed for the Brooklyn-based company People’s Pops. The book is published by Ten Speed Press, and is out this June. We ran around Brooklyn and NYC doing the shots for this book…we photographed people eating the popular popicles at their shop in the Chelsea Market, and from their stand on the High Line. I still dream of the plum popsicle and I will be making up a batch soon.

People's Pops cookbook, photo by Jennifer MayPeople's Pops cookbook, popsicles, photo by Jennifer MayPeople's Pops cookbook, popsicles, photo by Jennifer MayPeople's Pops cookbook, popsicles, photo by Jennifer May

Iron Chef Michael Symon’s Cookbook

A sneak peek at the cover of Iron Chef Michael Symon’s upcoming cookbook, Carnivore (Clarkson Potter, October 2012). I shot this with Michael in NYC and in his hometown, Cleveland, over the fall. So many delicious meat and vegetable side recipes, I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

Chef Michael Symon, Carnivore cookbook, Jennifer May food photographer

James Beard Award Nomination!

This little book that could just keeps rising. We now have a James Beard Award Nomination for The Art of Living According to Joe Beef.

Joe Beef cookbook, photographed by Jennifer May, James Beard Award Nomination
The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts. Written by Frederic Morin, David McMillan & Meredith Erickson. Foreword by David Chang. Photographs by Jennifer May.

Susan Feniger’s Street Food Cookbook

The cookbook I photographed for Chef Susan Feniger is available for pre-order from bookstores (its official publication date is August, 2012, from Clarkson Potter). Susan is one of the most joyful and generous people I have ever met, and thinking back on the week I spent with her and the team, at her home in Los Angeles, makes me smile.

Here is a sneak peek at the cover, and note the book’s subtitle: Irresistibly Crispy, Creamy, Crunchy, Spicy, Sticky, Sweet Recipes. So true!

A Trophy for the Joe Beef cookbook!

And the Joe Beef Cookbook is the winner of the 2012 Food52 Tournament of Cookbooks. In the final round, it won against Momofuku’s Milk book, as judged by Alice Waters.

In the second round, some lovely words by the judges on the photos: “The photographs of the restaurant, its garden, and its cast of characters are lovely and real, and as we read the book, we spent lots of time looking at them and seeing how quietly they tell the outrageous story. Photographer Jennifer May captures it all. She understands the sensuality and beauty of food and never flinches as she shoots some pretty over-the-top dishes just as they come to her.” – Christopher Hirsheimer & Melissa Hamilton

Shooting a Midwestern Cookbook, Part 3

I love location-based photo shoots, and location-based cookbooks are the best. Not only do we shoot a whole lot of delicious food, but we travel around to meet local people, see local sites, tell picture stories, and capture the essence of a place. I spent this past week with Amy Thielen in Minnesota, on the third and final shoot for her upcoming cookbook (Clarkson Potter). This trip was all about winter.

We went ice fishing on a frozen lake with a local guy, visited a survivalist-style bunker stocked with hundreds of jars of home-preserved foodstuffs, hosted a garage party with a bonfire in the snow, and joined the crew of a local logging mill for their monthly soup day.

Amy Thielen, Midwestern cookbook, jennifer may
Here I am riding on the back of a quad on a frozen lake in Minnesota, returning from ice fishing
Guest quarters feature a heated & lit out house. A fun adventure at midnight in winter.


HuffPo’s Best 11 Cookbooks of 2011

The Huffington Post has named the Joe Beef cookbook as one of the Best 11 Cookbooks of 2011, and my cheeks are burning hot – hours after hearing the news. First Publisher’s Weekly, then Details, then USA Today, then Time Out New York… [Update: Bon Appetit magazine rates the book as one of the 8 Stellar Cookbooks of 2011; it is also a Chicago Tribune favorite; it is an editor’s pick for a Best Cookbook gift idea at Martha Stewart magazine – along with the Fleisher’s book I photographed] It’s amazing to watch the accolades build up for the book we made for that tiny restaurant in Montreal. I drove north over the span of a year, to chase chefs Fred & Dave around their restaurant, on fishing boats off the coast of Prince Edward Island, and around the outlying areas of Montreal. We didn’t even have a food or prop stylist, but we had Fred & Dave’s aesthetic genius. It was just the kind of location-based, food-based, character-driven project I love to work on. I’m just so thrilled I can’t contain myself. Here are a few of my favorite shots, and there are hundreds more in the book:

Huffington Post best cookbooks of 2011 photographed by Jennifer May Photography
Images & outtakes from The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A cookbook of sorts. Photography by Jennifer May

Michael Symon’s Cleveland

I spent my birthday doing two of my favorite things: Photographing a cookbook on location, and eating great food. The cookbook part involved following Chef Michael Symon around the West Side Market in Cleveland – we met his favorite meat vendors and took the elevator down to the cutting chambers. The next day, for lunch, there was Michael’s classic beef cheek pierogies at Lola Bistro, an array of charcuterie, and house-cured bacon and house-smoked turkey sandwiches. Still, one of my most vivid memories of Cleveland was seen through the car window as a man walked his pit bull through the rough side of town, carrying a big stick. The need for the stick was clear – as two other pit bulls charged, barked, and lunged from the other side of the road. Lucky for the four lanes of traffic between them, and the man and his dog passed without incident…that time.

Cleveland's Historic West Side Market
The open kitchen at Michael Symon's Lola Bistro in Cleveland
Leaving Cleveland just after sunrise

Meetings, Pied-a-Terre & a Rep

Yesterday was one of those busy & fun days. It started with a drive to NYC to meet with a photo editor at a major national magazine who had called me the day before and asked me to come see her. It was an out-of-the-blue request and you know that when you get one of those, you drop everything and go. So I gathered a bunch of unpublished photos from upcoming cookbooks and tailor-made a portfolio on my iPad to show her. Turns out, she had called me on the strength of the photos in one of the book galleys that had landed on her desk. The meeting took a turn for the amazing when she responded to my portfolio with, “Yes! That is exactly what we are looking for.” I mean, only in dreams, right?

Here is a sneak preview of those unpublished photos, from Alana Chernila’s upcoming book, The Homemade Pantry:

The day continued with a trip to Williamsburg, to visit our new pied-a-terre. We rented it sight unseen, based on high recommendations, price and location, and as low as my expectations were, they were met 100-fold. There are a few bars in walking distance, an organic produce store, and a couple of cafes… it’s a new and exciting stomping ground for multi-day work trips in NYC, which are becoming more and more common.

Then, I received an email from a rep, of sorts, letting me know I’ve been accepted into their group and am now officially listed online. It’s called Wonderful Machine, and they sound like a terrific bunch of promoters. They are going to reach out to people on my behalf, and what’s not great about that! Here is my listing page:

And finally, one more meeting with a private client for a photo shoot in the spring. A full day, packed with promise.

The Homemade Pantry Cookbook

A cover teaser for The Homemade Pantry (Clarkson Potter, April, 2012), by Alana Chernila. I had so much fun photographing Alana’s book. It was all about hanging out with Alana, her husband, daughters, and Arty the cat in and around their home in the Berkshire Mountains. Alana is an incredible writer. In the age of celebrity chef, she is a lucky one who sold her book on the strength of her writing and her idea. She writes from her heart about cooking fresh, homemade foods for her family. And for fun, here is a most unusual book review she wrote about another book I was photographing while simultaneously working on hers.

The Homemade Pantry - 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making by Alana Chernila

Iron Chef Michael Symon’s Cookbook

Michael Symon told me today that my laugh sounds like his laugh. This is quite funny if you have ever heard one of us laugh… And there were quite a few giggles on the set. Here we are on day 2 shooting his Carnivore cookbook.

Michael Symon on the set of his Carnivore cookbook shoot

Michael Symon’s Carnivore Cookbook

I was speaking with a college friend of mine on the phone the other day and she reminded me of how much we change. In particular, she reminded me of my 7-year long stint as a vegetarian. Those days are long gone, and now here I am, up close and personal photographing all kinds of meat. First there was the Fleisher’s butcher cookbook, then there was the Joe Beef cookbook. And this week I am in the studio with the crown prince of fleshy treats, photographing Iron Chef Michael Symon’s upcoming Carnivore cookbook (Clarkson Potter). And I couldn’t be happier.

Shooting the Carnivore cookbook with Michael Symon
Food stories in New York's Hudson Valley and beyond from photographer Jennifer May