Photo workshop in the kitchen

We went to try food photography with one of the most powerful smartphones on the market. Focus on a new star restaurant in Paris: Victor Mercier’s FIEF.

The challenge was daunting: highlighting a chef’s work with a smartphone! Challenge accepted. Direction 11and district of Paris. Rue de la Folie-Méricourt, to be precise, whose name already evokes the atmosphere of the evening. At number 44, large bay windows without a flashy sign. A sign soberly indicates the host of these places: FIEF, in capital letters. “Made here in France”, as a slogan, almost a raison d’être. Behind the idea and the counter is Victor Mercier, ex-finalist of the Top Chef show in 2018, who has just hung a Michelin star on his hat. In the kitchen, therefore, a young chef who only cooks ingredients produced and grown in France.

Master of ceremonies of the culinary photography workshop and accompanist of the experience, Philippe Martineau, one of the greatest gastronomic photographers. Who very regularly leaves behind his professional suitcase, his ceremonial lights, to grab unexpected – or not – stolen moments in the kitchen or on the plate with his smartphone, an iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Go to the counter to begin the initiation. First tip from the master: make a video of filling a glass of champagne, from a low angle, using the wide angle in slow motion. It is then a matter of getting very close to the glass to take advantage of the macro mode: guaranteed bubble effect. With finds that already offer a space of freedom – such as focusing in transparency on the server, then returning it to the glass and its sparkling content. Next tip: use “cinematic” mode to immortalize the comings and goings of the clerks in the kitchen. The gestures are precise, the first draft of the snacks delicate. The smartphone plays with blur and sharpness when a cook enters his field. Victor Mercier honors us with a house secret: cooking a vegetable in a Japanese casserole. The phone registers the words, as a director automatically switches from the focus on the object to the interlocutor. After the video is shot, it is possible to change the focus point a posteriori.

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We take our seats around the counter, ready for the tasting, the click at your fingertips, always. A little reminder from Philippe Martineau: go and find the light where it is. Sometimes it’s softer. Here the underground cooked beetroot, the smoked sturgeon whipped cream and the caviar come into the spotlight, under the spotlight – a spotlight highlights the dish. A trick on the framing is needed. “To play with the lights, don’t hesitate to move the object, turn around, change perspective.” Well spotted. You can even get details far away, behind the pans, with the 3x optical zoom, for super sharp close-ups. The chef explains his creations, the guests taste.

The dishes follow one another. The corners too. A traveling cinema is a must when the guinea fowl arrive, with its white asparagus, its cream county and its mushroom gravy. One last tip from Maestro Martineau? “Grab the device with four fingers, pinky down and slide over your fingernails.” That works. No jerk, the iPhone 13 Pro Max slides towards its subject, the scene is fluid, almost cinematic. The photographer also reminds us that we prefer the most efficient modes: those who can do the most, can do the least. By saving photos in RAW and videos in 4K ProRes, it is then possible to extract smaller files if necessary, to post on social networks. But also to keep as much information as possible to work more successfully.

The last dessert, with a subtle curve, recalls the taste but ignores coffee, an imported product, and therefore banned in the arena and the values ​​​​of the FIEF. The six-course menu surprised and conquered the guests. Counting six without a break, in poses. We leave the experience with radiant pupils, singing taste buds and, in the bag, testimonials of these moments of culinary delights stolen from posterity.

FIEF, 44, rue de la Folie-Méricourt, Paris 11and

Raphael Sachetata

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