In her home in Coral Gables, our executive pastry chef embarked yesterday on the final chapter of producing her first cookbook — the photo shoot! I was there to sit in on the first few hours with the most talented and most flexible photographer Ben Fink, in action once again in Miami on behalf of the Genuine team’s premiere publications.
When I arrived a little before 10:00 a.m. yesterday, two of 80 shots were in the can. The strawberry pop tarts came first (how could they not?) followed by whoopie pies, which was my favorite shot of the morning. I watched Oreos come together, then got a sweet surprise when I was asked to play model to the Cracker Jacks handheld shot, and lastly the monster mallows, dusted with corn starch-powdered sugar, and assembled like a soft white wailing wall. There was little stopping my claws from tearing those pillowy building blocks down and depositing them where they belong (er, my MOUTH,) but I suppressed the urge lest I not get invited back again!
I uncovered a few precious details about the cookbook — a coup, I’d say, since Hedy and her team are immune to treats, so it takes more than sweet talk or bait to coax anything out of them. I’ll trade you a Nutter for the Table of Contents? Nice try! I’ll bake you a cake? Close but no cigar! Hedy and her Connecticut-based writer Abby Dodge — with major support from partner Heidi Ladell — of course over-acheived. The manuscript, which will ultimately find its way into a 7.438″ by 9″ format, was turned in astonishingly early on July 1, 14 days before deadline, at 40,101 words, just over the 40,000 total allowance. The intro wasn’t included, but that’s what editors are for! No name divulged yet, but that’s ok. Having gone through the process with Michael, I know that part comes later, at least after the cover is chosen.
As for the shoot? It’s going great, and Hedy couldn’t be in better hands than with her assistant Amy Kalinowski in the kitchen, Ben in front of the camera, his assistant Jeff Kavanaugh at the computer, friend Ryan Osmond documenting with video behind-the-scenes, Michelle Florio (A Joy Wallace let her take a couple days off) interning and helping out with the production, and of course Heidi for the creative support and love notes around the house-cum-studio.
Props, materials and service pieces were foraged over the past month — up until this Saturday once Ben was in town for a last minute group “hunting and gathering” expedition — from Panache, Front of House, Always flowers, Pearl, Rex Fabrics, online vellum outlets, and the H&H home itself. The Biltmore Hotel kicked in a great rate for the visitors, and voila. You have a cookbook photo shoot. For my images from the morning, follow my link to our Flickr. Be patient. They are loading slowly from Barbuto’s basement kitchen in NYC.