The Food52 Piglet Award

Food52 Piglet Award logoLast night, the Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook took home the Food52 Piglet Award for 2016. It’s a huge honor to all involved. The judging happens through a bracket system, in which pairs of books compete against each other. Eventually, only two are left. Andrew Zimmern, of Bizarre Foods, made the final ruling. Yotam Ottoleghni helped it through an earlier round. Reading Ottoleghni’s review just about made my year. (Anybody who glances at this blog will know I am a huge fan of his recipes.)

The book was written by Jessamyn Rodriquez and Julia Turshen, and it tells the story of a bakery that is also a non-profit social enterprise. The women who apply to train at the Hot Bread Kitchen come from all over the world. They are taught artisan baking and business skills, to help them become successful culinary professionals.

Hot Bread Kitchen dough

Challah process NYC Food Photographer

stollen piglet 2016 winner

monkey bread piglet 2016

The bakers also share knowledge of specialty breads from their home countries. Things like Persian Nan-e Barbari, Moroccan Msmen, and Ethiopian Injera are baked and sold by the bakery. Between all of this hands-on knowledge, and the writing expertise of Rodriquez and Turshen, it’s no wonder reviewers and judges have been describing the book as a transformative baking tool.

Hot Bread Kitchen portrait

Tacos toppings

Injera Ethiopian

I spent two weeks photographing the bakery, bread, and the mostly-women bakers for this book. I worked with food stylist Erin McDowell, and prop stylist Barb Fritz. It took me about a year to work off the bread-pounds I gained from all of my snacking. And now I just want to bake more. One thing I know for sure: there is nothing so delicious as a buttery, flaky Msmen, hot from the griddle.

bakery at Hot Bread Kitchen
The retail space & cafe at Harlem’s Hot Bread Kitchen Bakery
Hot Bread Kitchen location
The Hot Bread Kitchen bakery & retail space is located under a busy commuter train in Harlem.

Food52 Piglet Award

Applestone Meat Company

This morning I woke to the sound of chirping birds outside my window. The chirps made me think of spring. Spring made me think of summer. Summer made me think of picnics, grilling, and camping. And then I thought of this shoot I did recently for the Applestone Meat Company, showcasing their meats in all of those settings. This was all from beneath a heavy quilt in my bed, mostly with my eyes closed. The reality of the day is that the trees are bare, and the roads are icy. But the birds are returning, and it was a beautiful waking dream.

Applestone Meat Company breakfast setting food photography Jennifer May

Applestone Meat Company grilling picnic Jennifer May photo

Cookbooks 2015

Three cookbooks I photographed over the past year have October 2015 release dates. They are all published by Clarkson Potter, and I love each of them for different reasons. Very soon, the Hot Bread Kitchen cookbook launches. This is an amazing non-profit bakery in Harlem that teaches low-income, foreign-born women the craft of artisan bread baking. These women learn a profession, business skills, and English. It was inspiring to spend the time I did with them. And I always chuckle when I think about waiting for the train above the bakery to rumble by, when my camera was set for slow exposures, in fading light.

Hot Bread Kitchen cookbooks 2015
Hot Bread Kitchen cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2015)

Earlier this month, Michael Symon‘s 5 in 5: Seasonal was published. This is the third book I have photographed for Chef Symon, and working with him is always a high point of my year. Chef Symon loves what he does, and he has a great team around him. It is a true pleasure and a joy to collaborate with him, and I’m eagerly awaiting getting my hands on this book. His fast, flavorful recipes are just the thing for my daily schedule.

Michael Symon 5 in 5 Seasonal cookbooks 2015
Michael Symon 5 in 5: Seasonal cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2015)

Another of my favorite authors is publishing her second cookbook this month. Alana Chernila and I have worked together on both of her books, and it has been such a pleasure meeting at her home in the Berkshires through the seasons. We photograph her children, her family, her friends, and her in the kitchen. Whenever I spend time with Alana, I can’t wait to get home and cook for the people I love.

Alana Chernila Homemade Kitchen cookbooks 2015
Alana Chernila Homemade Kitchen cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2015)

Metropolitan Opera New Menu

Just before the July 4th long weekend, I did a couple of photo shoots at the Metropolitan Opera. One shoot was to update their restaurant’s website with new menu items. I am posting two dishes that speak to me. The salad on the left is the reason why I own a mandolin slicer. I love those thin circles of radish, beet and cucumber. This salad inspires me, and I will be riffing on it in future salads. The dish on the right is a spring pea risotto with red-veined sorrel and fiddle-heads. Photographing these dishes beneath the 30-foot Chagall painting was definitely memorable.

food at the met opera

Brisket Take 2

A family member ran the Boston Marathon, and we prepared a feast for him the next day. We had smoked brisket, potatoes au gratin, kale salad, and pickled beets. We encourage our toddler to help in the kitchen as often as possible, and here she is patting down the spice rub.

brisket rub
Toddler uses hands to pat down a dry rub of paprika, granulated onion & garlic, brown sugar onto a brisket

Broccoli rabe pesto, starting seeds & the first lakeside grill of the season

This past week I shot a campaign for Andy Boy’s broccoli rabe. That’s right, an advertising campaign for a vegetable. It’s one of my favorite green vegetables, they are one of the best clients a food photographer could have, and we work hard and have a good time. I came home with bunches of the beautiful stuff, and set to work making broccoli rabe pesto, right from their recipe page. I was going to bring some to our first lakeside cookout of the season, but we ate the batch I made (although there is lots more in the freezer). It’s one step more complicated than traditional basil pesto, because you parboil the rabe, but then you reserve that green water and boil your pasta in it, and I love that.

Back at home, the week was filled with starting spring seeds – rabe seeds! a gift from Barb Fritz, a prop stylist I work with a lot – and flowers for the pollinators. Then we grilled, and found a tadpole at the lake.

broccoli rabe pesto
Ingredients for broccoli rabe pesto
broccoli rabe
The heady smell of fresh rabe (aka rapini) has me dreaming of Italy, and of ancient Rome
broccoli rabe pesto
Blanching rabe; reserved green water for boiling pasta; finished pesto; a pear tree in bud; starting seeds for the garden

bbq at a lake

children look for tadpoles
Finding the first tadpole of the season

Applestone Meat Company

This week I was with the Applestone Meat Company, photographing raw meat with spring vegetables. Working with Joshua Applestone (founder of Fleisher’s Pasture-Raised Meats) is like going back to my roots. I photographed the very first magazine article ever written about Fleisher’s, then their media kit, then their cookbook. And now I’m working with the Applestones on their new venture. Josh & Jessica are like family, and as much as I adore each and every one of my clients, this one is special. They are doing good work in the world, supporting the business of, and access to, humanely-raised meat. It’s a cause I believe in.

Applestone Meat Company

 

Against the Grain Gluten Free cookbook

I am excited to announce the publication of Against the Grain: extraordinary gluten-free recipes made from real, all-natural ingredients. The book was written by Nancy Cain and is published by Clarkson Potter. I will be adding interior shots to my main website soon, but for now, here is the cover… a gluten-free breakfast pizza. Even a gluten-lover like me loved this!

Against the Grain cookbook cover

Maya Kaimal Fine Indian Foods

Maya Kaimal produces the most delicious jarred and prepared Indian foods. Simmer cubes of chicken in her Tikka Masala or Madras Curry, add some chopped shallot and maybe some cashew nuts, and you have a fast, healthy, and yummy dinner.

Maya wanted to do a step-by-step to show all of the ingredients that go into her prepared sauces, so she, Jessica Bard, and I photographed her making Coconut Goan, from scratch, using those components. The mustard seeds & curry leaves popped, the onions caramelized, and the spices infused the tomato and coconut. I was so inspired to watch the process that I found myself cooking her recipes all week.

maya kaimal indian food

Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook

For the better part of October, I have been working on shooting a cookbook for The Hot Bread Kitchen. This not-for-profit bakery trains low-income, foreign-born women in the culinary art of artisan baking. Many of the breads these women bake are hard-to find regional specialties: buttery, flaky Moroccan m’smen; sesame topped Persian nan-e qandi; Armenian lavash crackers; and all kinds of challah. I could eat their heritage corn tortillas every day. I watched two women bake batch after batch from soaked whole corn kernels, and the flavor is unparallelled.  The Hot Bread Kitchen cookbook will be published by Clarkson Potter in 2015. For now, you can sample their breads at these markets.

Hot bread kitchen tortillas

Broccoli Rabe / Andy Boy Campaign

This summer I photographed a social media campaign for a vegetable. What an exciting project! We photographed all kinds of recipes for Andy Boy’s Broccoli Rabe. From ingredients, to process shots, to complete recipes, we photographed: pesto, citrus salad, pizza and a stir fry. Stay tuned, part two of the social media campaign is coming up. And meanwhile, eat your beautiful, healthful, bitter greens!

Broccoli-Rabe-pasta-2Salad - Broccoli Rabe BlanchedFusili - Almonds/Garlic/Pepper FlakesFusili - Close-up of pesto in a bowlSalad - Blood Orange Slices and Slices of cheeseBroccoli-Rabe-citrus-salad-

Silvercup Studios

I was at Silvercup Studios all last week working on a rebranding campaign. What a whirlwind: With the broadcast shoot on top of our stills shoot, we were a team of about 50 – including the food stylist, below, working the steamer. Updates to come when the campaign goes live.

silvercup-studios-jennifer-maysilvercup-studios-stylist-jennifer-may

Rahm Fama’s Meat & Potatoes Cookbook

It’s been a long wait, but we are close now… I shot this book for chef Rahm Fama about two years ago. It will be published this July 1, by Clarkson Potter, and may much eating of meat, potatoes, and amazing side dishes commence.

This book is different than a lot of cookbooks out there. It is heavy on the food & recipes, and light on the dishware, meaning…. most of the book was shot almost from above, using just a few different plates, on a few different tables. The food is truly the star. I will post example shots after the pub date.

Rahm Fama Meat & Potatoes cookbook

Gluten-Free on a Shoestring

I just wrapped a 6-day cookbook shoot in Westchester for Nicole Hunn and Gluten-Free on a Shoestring. This cookbook will bring back the classic snacks gluten-free people miss out on: think Twinkies, Twizzlers, and Hostess Cupcakes. Gluten-free or not, these were delicious treats, and I tasted almost every one of them.

Our team consisted of Nicole & Erin McDowell in the kitchen and me on the camera & computer. Nicole’s children and husband were on the scene, the dogs were eventually banished to the prop room (dining room), and the cat hung out until she tried to climb my lighting tools to get to a vase of freshly picked lilies-of-the-valley.

Here are a few behind-the-scenes photos of the shoot.

gluten-free-shoestring-jennifer-may-6196gluten-free-shoestring-jennifer-may-6197gluten-free-shoestring-jennifer-may-6287gluten-free-shoestring-jennifer-may-6361vert-gluten-free-shoestring-jennifer-may-6371gluten-free-shoestring-jennifer-may-6340gluten-free-shoestring-jennifer-may-6335gluten-free-shoestring-jennifer-may-6221

 

James Beard Award Win!

James Beard Award New Midwestern Table coverThe James Beard Awards were held last night and I am thrilled to announce Amy Thielen‘s New Midwestern Table won in the category of American Cooking! I am so glad she chose me to photograph her book.

Big thanks to our fantasic stylists Kendra McKnight and  Alison Hoekstra.

Amy is a fantastic writer, and now also a television host of her own show. Congratulations, Amy! Well deserved.

Below are a few of my favorite shots from our book.

James Beard award for Midwestern Table

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