Category Archives: How-to

Food-related Halloween Costumes

Not sure what you want to be for Halloween?  Here are some last-minute food-related costumes.  Some of these are funny, some are cute and some are like why?

1.  Trendy costumes:  There are adult donut and burger costumes, so how about making a cronut or ramen burger costume?

2.  Sexy women’s costume:  French fries

3.  Cute and funny kids’ costume:  Lobster in a pot

4.  Adorable costume for dog:  Taco

5.  Funny for men:  Hard salami

6.  If you want to be a walking advertisement, how about a can of Chunky soup?

7.  If you really want an unusual costume, how about an onion?

8.  If you want people to keep asking what you are all night, try this burrito costume.

9.  Cute costume for couples:  Bacon and eggs

10.  Clever diy costume:  Deviled egg

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Holiday Party Wine Tip

You know those household hints you see in women’s magazines?  You ever wonder if they work?  Well, I’m going to share one that I used and it actually works.  If you plan to serve wine at your holiday party, you’ll want to know this tip.  If you or a guest spills red wine on the carpet, immediately pour salt on top of the stain.  I’m talking get out the Morton salt package and pour the whole thing on it.  Depending on the size of the stain, if it’s large enough, you will probably need to use the whole carton of salt.  So you may want to keep it out where guests will be in case of an emergency wine stain.

Hanukkah Recipes

I culled these interesting Hanukkah recipes from the web:

Babka–Great article (with old recipe) that won an IACP Journalism Award

Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidels from Martha Stewart

Chopped Chicken Liver from Andrew Zimmern at Food & Wine

Gluten-free Iced Hanukkah Sugar Cookies

Golden Panko Latkes with Sour Cream and Chives from Food52

How to Make Rugelach–an Epicurious tutorial with recipes for different variations

Mexican Hanukkah recipes from Bon Appetit

North Carolina Sweet Potato and Apple Latkes from NPR

Paleo Hanukkah Menu with butternut squash latkes from Elana’s Pantry

Vegetarian Hanukkah recipes from Vegetarian Times

Food Artistry Law

So you want to brand your homemade jam?  Or are you a chef and you just got a cookbook deal?  Or maybe you’re a foodie who took a cheesemaking class and now you’ve perfected the craft and want to slap a label on your own cheese?  Or perhaps you’ve bought a truck and want to make your version of fusion street food?  The only problem is you’re clueless as to what to do about the legal issues involved with all these ventures.  Don’t worry; it’s no problem for Brian Mencher and David Beame.  The pair own an entertainment law firm with a focus on Food Artistry.  What is Food Artistry law, you ask?  It’s much more than applying for a liquor license.

The food lawyers represent clients in matters such as public appearances on TV, at cooking demonstrations and online blogging; publishing contracts for cookbooks and food writing; branding, with business planning, intellectual property issues and registering trademarks; help with starting their business; sponsorship and endorsement deals and much more!

Partner Brian Mencher, with a background in restaurants and cooking, understands the unique needs of clients in this area.  While living in San Francisco, he fell in love with the food scene there.  “There are gorgeous farmers’ markets,” he says.  When a cooking school was opening there, he bartered his legal services for cooking classes.  Here, he learned things like knife skills and sautéing.  When they opened a wine bar, Mencher was asked to work the front of the house.

Brian Mencher–photo used with permission

When he moved back to New York, he got a job staging at Bouley and was soon offered a position cooking on the line as possonnier entremetier (assistant fish cook) where his job was handling the garnish and the accompaniment to the fish dishes.  After about four months, he reconnected with David Beame, who was a classically trained musician, to open a law firm focused on music law.  “I represented mostly people in the music industry all the time having a huge passion in food,” Mencher says.

David Beame–photo used with permission

Food law typically entails assisting with liquor licenses, purchasing agreements and distribution agreements for purchasing food.  “We wanted to focus on the entertainment aspect of food,” says Mencher.  “People in the food industry are the new rock stars.”

Indeed they are and with this new celebrity comes the need for legal help.  According to Mencher, food artistry comprises three things:  business start-ups, contracts and intellectual property.  “Whether it’s a food project at Brooklyn Flea or a food product–like ice cream delivery, it’s a business at the end of the day,” Mencher says.  So his firm helps by handling state filings and internal documents, like licenses for home cooks.  Contracts include book publishing and film agreements.  Intellectual property issues come into play with specialty products and food trucks and carts.  It includes the less obvious aspects of food artistry.  “Like when restaurants create their own silverware,” Mencher notes.

Mencher and Beame created a Songwriters Law Seminar that they deliver in cities like Nashville and Los Angeles.  Together, they created the Legal Smorgasbord, a seminar on the business and law of culinary artistry, that they gave at the James Beard Foundation.

“My vision has been a food law practice that specializes in this because we know the business; we’re passionate about the industry.  I’d want the people who work for me to be passionate about what I do,” says Mencher.

And Mencher is passionate about the current food scene.  He’s excited about Eleven Madison Park’s new concept.  “I want the Broadway experience in food, but I also want to get Grimaldi’s pizza and sit by the Brooklyn Bridge,” he says.  One of his favorite places is Blue Hill at Stone Barns.  He says, “We’re connecting farms and chefs, celebrating farmers that are bringing heirloom seeds back.”  He likes rooftop gardens.  He appreciates the trend at Momofuku Ko and Brooklyn Fare where “the food is highlighted above everything else.”

To those in the culinary arts, Mencher encourages, “Find a trusting team.  As a chef or someone who is creating constantly, you don’t necessarily have to know everything about the business.  Find a team you can trust–people who can steward the business–while you work on the creative.”

Food Photography for Your Blog

Food photography is a topic of interest to any food blogger who wants to make the photos on her blog look professional and stunning.

photo property of Bill Brady used with permission

Bill Brady, professional food photographer, addresses everything food bloggers and those who aspire to a professional career in food photography need to know to take great food photos in his new book More Digital Food Photography from Course Technology PTR, a part of Cengage Learning.

used with permission

I met with Bill over lunch at Madison & Vine in Manhattan to discuss his book and career in food photography as well as his hints and tips for taking professional-quality food photography for food bloggers.  Bill says he doesn’t mind giving away the tricks of the trade.  Each photographer has his or her own eye, called the point-of-view, and would all have a different perspective when photographing the same scene.

photo property of Bill Brady used with permission

Bill says the top two important areas in photography are light and composition.  When photographing food in a restaurant, he says, the best seat in the house is one near the window where you can get access to natural light.  “Food likes to be lit from behind,” he says.  Direct sunlight is not the best though.  “On an overcast day, the light is perfect,” he says. “Food likes diffused light not harsh light.  If you’re sitting outside or by a window, you have a better chance of getting a good picture.”  Bill’s biggest no-no is a flash.  “Artificial light makes the food look off color,” he says. He recommends purchasing a small diffusion panel–easy enough to fold up and carry in your purse–to use to reflect light off of.  Either that, or a white plate held in front of the subject as you photograph.

photo property of Bill Brady used with permission

Composition is the second area to focus on when photographing food.  Bill says to move the dish around to find what part of the food looks best.  He says if you’re photographing a roll, which he proceeds to do as an example, tear it to show its texture inside, put a pat of butter on a butter knife and lay it across the front of the bread plate to create more interest.  “What you’re doing is manipulating the surroundings,” he says.  Then decide what angle you will shoot from.  “If you want more drama, you shoot from below, looking up at the food.  If you shoot from overhead, it’s more graphic,” he says.  “You could focus on a particular area and something else becomes a background element.”  Bill adds, “Compositionally, the closer you get to the food, the better.”

I take a picture of my dish as I normally would, with a camera phone and flash.

Then I take one with natural light and a close up.  (We were seated in the middle of the restaurant, so the lighting was not the best.)

Bill recommends a point and shoot camera over a camera phone.  “A good digital SLR is not that expensive,” he says and will last you at least five years.

Bill shoots with a medium format camera.  It’s more expensive, he notes, but more professional in terms of the results you get.  He also likes shooting manually so he can control every aspect.  Starting his career in photography in 1994, he worked with a food photographer and learned the food photography business, which he began doing in 1999.  A trip to Italy solidified his interest in food photography.  “The food was amazing–the way they presented it,” Bill says.  So he shot food on his own and found his niche.  His first assignment was to photograph every category of food for Food Emporium.  In the last 13 years he has been photographing food, photography has seen many changes–most importantly, the transition from film to digital, and the ways in which that made taking photographs easier.

photo property of Bill Brady used with permission

I recommend checking out Bill’s very cool blog where he pairs his food photography with reader recipes.  Also, stay tuned for my review of his book as I start my adventure into food photography for my blog.