Over the past two months at Dishtag, we have been part of an incredible collaboration with Taste of Hong Kong 2019. We have photographed 16 restaurants, shot 56 dishes and uploaded 14 Taste visual menus on the Dishtag website. It’s been a great experience, and it’s all thanks to our creative director, Raffaella (Raffy) Bichiri, who has made the photos, videos and posts look so exceptional. We’ve had lots of questions from foodies about this collab. So now that the Taste menus have been revealed, Raffy tells us all about being the official food photographer for such a flagship foodie event.
What was your first thought after being selected as the official food photographer for Taste?
Two thoughts: it‘s going to be a busy January, and I need a new camera! We signed the contract to be media partner with Taste just before Christmas, so we spent time over the holidays researching the right camera. In January, we bought a full-frame camera with great video functions as we wanted the photos to be sensational and to shoot some cool videos of the chefs in action. So we needed the right tools. It was a crazy, busy, exciting January, yes, but having the right equipment was essential, and we are so very happy with the results!
So what else did you need ?
A lot of energy! And great support. From the Taste team, the chefs and the restaurant managers. We all pulled together like a team, and it worked out. I also needed to remain calm. As a food photographer, you are always under time pressure. Chefs are busy, so they don’t have time, nor food, to waste. The restaurant managers also want to open to customers. We are not shooting in a studio! But we still want the photos to be top notch and shoot the dishes whilst they are still hot. Intense, but FUN! And, in the end, you need to have fun. That’s what we aim to do at Dishtag with every shoot we do for every restaurant we work for.
How did you schedule the shoots?
The team at Taste were amazing here, and they led the coordination with the restaurants. This is hard work! When we are scheduling our own shoots with restaurants, there is a lot of back and forth. We need to organise with the restaurant managers, chefs, organise a dish shooting schedule. The most important thing is timing. After shooting over 50 restaurants in Hong Kong, I know that cold dishes need to come first so that I can get the lighting and the angles right. Then I ask for the ones that may be difficult to shoot – the “problem dishes” – simple meat dishes or fish plates that sometimes can be flat looking and therefore require more styling. Of course, we always finish with desserts. It’s the only way to finish a meal, and the only way to finish a food photo shoot!
What was your favourite dish to shoot?
So many favourites! I was so lucky to shoot all these dishes, but I have to say my favourite was the hand roll at Zuma. Such a beautiful creation and so Dishtaggable. This was the dish we uploaded when we revealed the menus on Dishtag Instagram. I also loved the lobster har gao at John Anthony – beautifully pink, and again, it stands out in a shot and on the Dishtag app.
And your favourite dish to eat?
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to eat the food! So I am looking forward to trying them all at the Taste festival between 21 and 24 March. Plus, at Dishtag, we don’t review dishes or restaurants. We photograph them. We are a social foodie app that celebrates food and food photography. We are not a food review platform. We cater for a new type of foodie: one that eats with their eyes.
So what about your favourite restaurant or chef?
Again, all the chefs were great to work with, but two really stood out for me, from two different generations and backgrounds. The first was Chef Leung from Hoi King Heen, who has 40 years of experience in the kitchen – what a legend. The other was Chef Sang from ICHU, for the incredible passion and pride he puts in his work. He has come a long way from Central in Peru to build his restaurant here and has so much experience working in an innovative, creative kitchen. We interviewed all the chefs of Taste of Hong Kong, so you all can make your own opinion on who is your favourite. Find all the interviews on the Dishtag blog Behind the Dish soon.
What was it like to be involved in the media tour?
Media tours! Three in total, and we have two down, one to go. It was the media tour that made it feel like we were part of something bigger. The photo shoots were Dishtag, Taste and the restaurants. But the media tours involved press like Foodie, SCMP, OpenRice and Lifestyle Asia... We got to meet some great people and have organised a fantastic collaboration food-photography booth at Taste with Lifestyle Asia on the back of the media tours. All to be revealed at the event, but it’s going to be a lot of fun. And it involves a lot of food photography!