Hogs at Geisert Farm

A Walk Amongst Hogs

I arrived at Geisert Farms at 5:55am, pulling into a spot next to the self serve vegetable stand, the sun just a purple glow to the east. Todd Geisert had told me via text a couple days earlier that “We start at 6″ so I didn’t want to be late. I had time to get out and stretch after my forty-five minute drive from St. Louis before, at almost exactly 6 o’clock, Todd and his workers rolled into the parking lot.  He told me later in that day that most photographers want to come after 9am when everything has already happened (the implication being that maybe some photographers are maybe a little more lazy than others.) I like to think that getting there before he did scored me some points.
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Ice Cream Editorial Photography

As a food photographer I am exposed to a lot of food on a daily basis, but I have to admit that I have a weakness for ice cream. My grandfather used to serve up huge bowls of ice cream, always telling my mother that it was ok because he had made “hollow dips.” Invariably when I scoop out ice cream I think of good ole Chappie. As you can imagine, it was pretty not easy to maintain a semblance of control when Sauce Magazine sent me ten varieties of ice cream to shoot for their July Issue. While I usually don’t eat the food I shoot, well, I had a lot of ice cream left over, so I needed a few extra trips to the gym that week. #worthit

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St. Louis Food Photographer: Hawaiian Flavors

If you say you don’t like Spam then you are no friend of mine. Sure, I shot a lot of high end food but when you get right down to it, can you really beat super-processed meat that contains more chemicals than actual meat-like ingredients? Ok, fine, I can understand your hesitation, but seriously, if Spam is prepared properly and paired with good ingredients? Delicious.

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Moll’s Cup No. 3 for Sauce Magazine

I worked on a number of assignments for Sauce this month including a feature called The List, where Sauce talks about “the people, places, dishes and drinks we love.” As part of that assignment I photographed the Moll’s Cup No. 3 Cocktail, the brainchild of bartender Jeffrey Moll, Jr. Moll makes his own Pimm’s-eque liquer, mixes it with house-made pastis, and then bottles it with carbonated ginger-infused water in individual serving sizes. This is really helpful when serving, because the garnish takes quite a bit of time to prepare. To say that it is a garnish is not really fair … as Sauce put it, the fruit is an “edible work of art.”

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Tripel for Sauce Magazine

Last month I got a fun assignment for Sauce Magazine: photographing Tripel in Lafayette Square for the November issue. The photos were for the the Nightlife section, which is a column that I cover regularly. Each month the column includes a main opening photograph of the crowded nightspot and a couple of food shots for the side bar. Despite the fact that the brief is usually pretty simple, this column is a little tricky to shoot each month. For one thing, most bars and restaurants don’t want you to come in during peak hours to photograph the food portion of the assignment. Unfortunately it’s hard to get a good crowd shot of a bar in the middle of the afternoon. As a result I usually end up going back at least once more after dark to get the “nightlife” shot, sometimes multiple times because inevitably the bar has a slow night, or empties out exactly when I arrive with my camera. Gar.

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Single Serving Cocktails: Safer Than Punch

The holidays are a busy time in our house. Lots of entertaining, being entertained, drinking, eating, laughing. Last month I did a project for Sauce Magazine for a section called “Make-Ahead Holiday” which featured the Day Boating Cocktail by mixologist Cory Cuff (currently at Cielo in the Four Seasons Hotel here in St. Louis). The concept is pretty simple: instead of spending the whole evening behind the bar mixing up drinks, mix up a whole batch of a single cocktail the day before, then portion it out into single servings in cute little bottles which can be kept on ice until needed.

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Chef Rob Uyemura

Backyard Grilling with Rob Uyemura

Another of the fun assignments I got to shoot last month was a quick portrait of Rob Uyemura for Sauce Magazine. Rob is the executive chef at Yia Yia’s Eurobistro in Chesterfield. Rob reviewed several cookbooks about fresh-from-the-soil produce and the creative brief was for a portait of him cooking out of one of the cookbooks. According to Rob his kitchen wasn’t photo-ready, so I ended up shooting him in his backyard grilling up some lovely ribs and some really delicious looking produce that he’d just picked from his garden.

I love living downtown but I would kill for a garden. Growing up in PA, I always had access to fresh vegetables and fruits straight from my dad’s garden – nothing tastes quite like fresh picked corn, tomatoes and onions. Maybe I can talk my building into letting me put a garden on the roof deck that no one uses …

Jermain Todd, Owner of Mwanzi. Photograph by Jonathan Gayman

Jermain Todd

Recently I had the chance to meet local artisan Jermain Todd, who I photographed for Sauce magazine. Jermain owns Mwanzi, an eco-friendly design-build-supply firm. Among other things, Jermain makes really excellent furniture out of local wood, whether it’s reclaimed or trees he acquires from people around town who need to cut them down for whatever reason. You’ll be able to eat on some of his tables at the new Pi in the Mercantile Exchange downtown. I met up with Jermain at another small business, WunderWoods in St. Charles where he was going to pick up the wood for the Pi tables. Jermain is a cool guy, the type of guy you want making your furniture for you – the shoot was a lotta fun.

Korean Bibimbap

Strip Mall Cuisine: Korea House in Creve Coeur

I always seem to start my blog posts these days with some sort of comparison of my old life in New York City versus my current life in St. Louis. The reason this happens, I suppose, is that things really are different in a my two cities and I’m constantly amazed as I discover new things here in St. Louis that I had no idea could exist. For example, independent restaurants that happen to be located in strip malls.

I’m not talking about Olive Pit, Deep Fried Lobster and TGIFUs. I’m talking about independent restaurants that I would never know existed if it wasn’t for the magazine assignments that have been taking me far and wide all over St. Louis City and County.

One great example of unexpectedly good strip mall cuisine is Korea House (otherwise known as Hangook Kwan) in Creve Coeur. In a strip mall? Check. Zero ambiance? Check. Amazingly delicious and relatively inexpensive Korean food? Check.

Korea House has some amazing beef bulgolgi, which is a personal favorite of mine. After I photographed the assignment for the magazine, I dragged Dr. Fiance and some of our friends out there for dinner. Each meal begins with a wide selection of banchan (appetizers) like fish cakes and kimchi (which I love).

For our main course we tried several of the Korean barbecue options (although we decided not to barbecue our meat ourselves at the table-side barbecue pits). The barbecue is served sizzling hot in cast iron dishes shaped like the animal you’re about to consume. And just to be clear? This isn’t some sort of jazzy fajita nightmare that you’d find at a chain strip mall restaurant; this is thinly sliced, intensely favored and incredibly tender barbecue.

Korean Banchan at Korea House in Creve Coeur, MO. Photography by Jonathan Gayman.

Korean Beef Bulgogi at Korea House in Creve Coeur, MO. Photography Jonathan Gayman

If you like Korean food, Korea House should definitely be on your list. As a final note: I had a client over at the studio for a photo session yesterday, and while we were reviewing some of the images in my office, her boyfriend noticed a print of the bibimbap photograph (above) hanging on my review board. He recognized the photo from the series in the Sauce review and told me that my photographs were the main reason he and his girlfriend decided to drive out to give Korea House a try. Always nice to hear good feedback, no?