More Adventures in the Midwest

I spent part of last week with Amy Thielen, back in Two Inlets, Minnesota. We got up at dawn every day and drove around the northern part of the state, taking photographs for her upcoming cookbook. We visited a 100-year-old fish-smoking house, fishermen on Lake Superior, farmers, and more of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. Such beautiful country.

Driving through fields, chasing the dawn light.
A farm in Minnesota with chickens, horses, ducks, turkeys, kittens, and a toddler running around in a kind of harmony.
Flying out of Fargo, North Dakota

Fermented Meat & Smoked Trout

Driving around Northern Minnesota for a couple of days with writer Amy Thielen, seeing sights, tasting bites, and making photographs for Amy’s upcoming book on Midwestern cuisine (Clarkson Potter, 2012). This evening we stopped on the rocky shore of Lake Superior for a quick dinner of bison pastrami, elk summer sausage, and smoked trout from Lake Superior. Tonight we sleep in a lakeside hotel. Tomorrow we watch the fishermen haul in their catch.

Cookbooks & Bon Appetit

Last week was a hectic week amidst a hectic summer: Three trips to NYC in 5 days, twice to shoot popsicles for the Brooklyn based company, People’s Pops, and on Friday I shot my first feature for Bon Appetit magazine. Bon Appetit! What a great experience working with food stylist Simon Andrews, prop stylist Stella Yoon, and the amazing Bon Appetit creative team.

I probably shouldn’t take photos while driving, but what a dramatic entrance to the city – and totally inappropriate weather for the last day of shooting popsicles – I couldn’t help myself on the GW Bridge at 8 in the morning.

And finally, a scene from the apartment where we set up an impromptu studio for the People’s Pops recipe shots. For me, there is nothing better than their plum/sour cherry pop, although apricot/orange blossom is out of this world. Seasonal fruit + sugar + freeze: look for the cookbook in Spring, 2012, to be published by Ten Speed Press.

It takes 3 tables worth of props to photograph 10 popsicle recipe shots.

Joe Beef Cookbook Top 10 from Details

Not only was The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts selected as a Top 10 Pick for Fall by Publisher’s Weekly, the book has also been rated one of the Top 10 Cookbooks of the Year by Details magazine. Incredible to be reading all this advance buzz… it makes remembering the year I spent traveling & doing the photographs (noted here and here) all the sweeter.

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.

Shooting a Midwestern Cookbook

Sitting at the Ladyslipper BnB in northern Minnesota, going over today’s shot list with food stylist Kendra McKnight. We are deep into our 8-day shoot, making a cookbook about the cuisine of the Midwest for Clarkson Potter. Every day we cook & shoot in a hand-built log cabin in the woods. The nearest town is 25 miles away, there is no cel reception, and everyone in these parts seems to forage & fill their pantries with seasonal specialties: raspberries, chokecherries, wild rice from the river, and as a treat, crayfish. Really getting into this frontier lifestyle.

Shooting the STREET Cookbook for Susan Feniger

Here I am on day 1 shooting the STREET cookbook for Susan Feniger. Our team of chefs (Susan & Kasja Alger), stylists, and I are working in Susan & Liz’s hill-top home with an incredible view of Los Angeles. As we work, Liz is filming for the STREET website. She got these shots of me shooting some very funny things.

Shooting Thai Green Peppercorns for the STREET cookbook
A messy detail pulled off the counter.

The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat

I am excited to announce the publication of The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat (Clarkson Potter). Written by Alexandra Zissu and Josh & Jessica Applestone of Fleisher’s Grass-fed & Organic Meats in Kingston, NY – and featuring 125 color and black & white photographs by me – the book is part guide, memoir, manifesto, reference and cookbook. The official publication date is June 6, 2011, but here are some previews from my advance copy:

The cover.

A selection of fats.

Joshua Applestone, Fleisher's Grassfed Meat, Cookbook, butcher, photos by Jennifer May

Dry rub on a chicken

Pastured steer on a farm in the Hudson Valley.

Joshua Applestone, Fleisher's Grassfed Meat, Cookbook, butcher, photos by Jennifer May

A pastured pig on a small farm in the Hudson Valley.

Joshua Applestone, Fleisher's Grassfed Meat, Cookbook, butcher, photos by Jennifer May

Josh in the Fleisher’s meat locker.

Joshua Applestone, Fleisher's Grassfed Meat, Cookbook, butcher, photos by Jennifer May

Detail of a two page graph showing the best ways to cook offal.


Prop Shopping

Unless you are Martha Stewart (who apparently owns a building filled with gorgeous props) a new cookbook shoot involves prop shopping. I spent the morning digging through dust and detritus at a bunch of junk shops. The reward: Soup spoon treasures about to be immortalized.

Bizarre Foods @ Joe Beef w/Fleisher’s

For the 2011 Butcher Blackout, Josh Applestone and the Fleisher’s crew traveled to the Joe Beef restaurant in Montreal, and they asked me to go along with them. Before the 12-course meal Fred Morin prepared, we had a six-hour picnic in sub-zero weather. Snacks included champagne and oysters on the half shell served from a snow bank and foie gras lobster poutine. Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods showed up with his film crew, so look for that on the upcoming Montreal special. Here are a few photos, and for more, visit this slide-show.

A rotisserie grill & spit as only the mind of Fred Morin could conceive
Butchers & bone-in rib eye steaks: Joshua Applestone (left) & Tom Mylan (right)
A little grinding, a little welding, Fred Morin modifies the grill
Fred Morin, Bryan Mayer & Josh Applestone
Bizarre Foods & crew
Andrew Zimmern, the host of Bizarre Foods, extols on the foie gras double down he just sampled

How to Shoot a Cookbook

The author of the current cookbook I am photographing for Clarkson Potter, Alana Chernila, wrote a wonderful piece on her blog about the process of creating the photographs for her book. Read it here.

sage set tray on the set of a cookbook for clarkson potter
I love a set tray. Here are a bunch of sage leaves from the food stylist's garden.

Joe Beef Cookbook

Another four-day shoot for the Joe Beef cookbook brings a year of regular visits to Montreal to a close. The book will be published by Ten Speed Press and will be out in September, 2011.

Joe Beef Restaurant Montreal Canada

Fleisher’s Cookbook

Been spending time in the meat locker and crawling around the cutting room floor at Fleisher’s, working on pictures for their upcoming book, to be published by Clarkson Potter.

Fleisher's grass-fed and organic meats cookbook
Sausage grinding plates

Joe Beef Cookbook

Back from another three-day shoot for Joe Beef restaurant in Montreal. We shot dishes in the restaurant, made excursions to the outskirts of Montreal for poutine and hamburgers, and then there was Chinatown to eat jellyfish (and other things “not for Canadians”) with the Joe Beef chef, sous-chefs, and bartender at 3 a.m.

A classic Montreal poutine with fries, gravy and cheese curds
A perfect bite

Kripalu Cookbook

Hot off the press: A cookbook published by the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health – the largest center of its kind in the United States and located in the rolling hills of the Berkshires. I photographed the dishes, executive chef Deb Morgan and helpers cooked, Jessica Bard styled, and it was overseen by Kripalu creative director Elena Erber. May the recipes inspire clean eating everywhere.

Kripalu Seasonal Menus cookbook photos by Jennifer May
The cover of the Kripalu Seasonal Menus cookbook

The Kripalu Seasonal Menus cookbook photos by Jennifer May

Food stories in New York's Hudson Valley and beyond from photographer Jennifer May