Go Behind-the-Scenes of Today’s Wall Street Journal Story Photo Shoot with Assistant to the Chef, Ellie Sara Groden

Daughters Ella and Lulu look on as mom and dad enjoy a moment together.

Open the Personal Journal of today’s Wall Street Journal and you will find a story that may get you in the mood to romance your special someone on Valentine’s Day!  That’s what Michael did for his wife Tamara, except it was the day after New Year’s on the request of style writer and author of the food/travel memoir Tiger in the Kitchen Cheryl Tan, whom he had the pleasure of meeting at their Miami Book Fair panel back in November.  Her Tricks of the Trade column runs in this lifestyle section every Thursday and today she focuses on some expert advice from someone who performs magic in the kitchen as his job, both in the restaurant and for his family at home.  I had all these photos from behind-the-scenes of the shoot for “A Special Gift, From the Chef” with photographer Brandon Kruse, so I thought it might be fun to find out from the prop stylist herself how it all came together that balmy winter evening.  Here is a quick Q&A with Ellie, below. DO try this one at home!

Michael's assistant Ellie on prop styling duty.

– First thing you thought when you got assigned this task!
Flashback to the days of living on my best friend’s couch in LA. All her friends were production assistants and the most interesting thing about it to me was always helping with the set.
– What was your first move?
Call people, find the Indian boutique that would have the blanket that i’d set the scene with.
– Was there a method to your shopping trip to fill in the gaps of what the Schwartzs had?
Just as much filler as possible. I think I bought 12 throw pillows and we used 5 but they were there just in case.
– What were some of the items you bought and why?
Really great lanterns, lighting is everything right?
– Take us through the set up on the day.
it rained!!!!! I had everything ready to go and all of a sudden the grass was wet and we didn’t know if Tamara’s hair would survive! Then it stopped, we lit the hibachi threw down the blanket and pillows and brought out the food. Easy as long as the weather held- which it did thank god.
– Something you wish you had gotten but didn’t, looking back?
More stone crabs?
– Tastiest part of the shoot?
Again-stone crabs!
– Biggest #fail?
The rain!!
– Advice to someone who wants to recreate a similar romantic setting?
xo! Make sure you’ve got the right person…the rest is easy ;)

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