You may be wondering why a journalist with no culinary training has chosen this niche.
While it’s true that I don’t have a culinary background (and if you’ve heard my horrific story that involves butchering a Hamburger Helper recipe for beef stroganoff with leftover bologna, you probably wouldn’t want me within a mile radius of your kitchen), but I’ve grown up with food as the basis for community and all social gatherings. Bussing tables during college put me in the right place at the right time and led to the beginning of my career as a food photographer. I worked extensively with nationally-regarded chefs, photographing glazed lamb shoulder and pâté de campagne, while living on a college student's diet of ramen noodles. The work that came out of those days included photographing the sexiest salmon you've ever seen for Esquire, cheesy chilaquiles for Condé Nast Traveler and crispy trout for Garden & Gun.
My years as a photo editor and writer at CNN helped me to cultivate my story-telling techniques. During that time as the assistant producer of CNN Photos blog my work with the team was recognized by the National Press Photographers Association. I worked on stories for CNN that dealt with everything from: women in the food industry creating and collaborating, to one chef using natural resources on a remote island to make a sustainable food program, to a courageous Palestinian woman using food to reclaim her culture’s narrative.
After years of photographing kitchen-life in restaurants followed by five years of editing and writing in a newsroom, I quit my job to pursue a self-created project that would take me, quite literally, around the world.
Starting along the quiet Georgian coast, I produced video work for Chef Whitney Otawka’s newest cookbook, The Saltwater Table. From there I drove along dusty back roads to a vineyard in Ensenada, Mexico to photograph the women who work for the Casa Frida winery. Then flew to the mountains of South Korea to spend a day with the famed Chef’s Table star, Jeong Kwan, a Buddhist nun who’s brought her Temple’s food program international recognition. Off La Rambla in South America I sat down with Chef Lucía Soria. We spoke about how her desire to continue learning has contributed to the ongoing success of Jacinto as well as new projects like Rosa Pizzeria. She spoke about building a great team, creative outlets and all that Francis Mallmann taught her over the fires.
Blending photo, writing and video into my projects has enabled me to tell the types of stories I’ve always dreamed of. Using food as a door to enter into conversations and learn about people’s history and culture is a beautiful gift.
If you think I’d be a good fit for the story you’re trying to tell, I’d love to hear from you.
Follow along on Instagram: @lyriclewin