Photo of Chef Chen Lanshu

Chen Lanshu, owner and head chef at Le Mout restaurant was recently named Asia’s top female chef.

It’s been a long time between blogs. As I posted last time, I’ve been out of action with some broken bones and the associated recovery time. Well, almost out of action, because I did head down to central Taiwan on assignment for the Wall Street Journal to photograph chef Chen Lanshu. Chef Chen, who trained in France at Le Cordon Bleu and worked at Thomas Keller’s the French Laundry in California (described by Anthony Bourdain as the best restaurant in the world), was recently named Asia’s best female chef by Veuve Clicquot. The assignment was mostly focused on her home rather than her restaurant, with the feature being mostly about who she is away from the kitchen.

Shooting this presented some difficulties, not least of which was the fact that my right arm was in a cast and my left in a splint and sling. I had an assistant to do all the setting up of lights and so forth, and shot everything off a tripod. Where there’s a will, there’s a way however, and at the end of the assignment there was a good selection of photographs to work from. We started at the restaurant, shooting some interiors and exteriors. Next was a multi-course lunch and food shoot, with all the dishes being documented. Some portraits with Chef Chen in her kitchen came after lunch. While it was a decent sized commercial kitchen, she has over 30 people working in there and most of them seemed to be present doing prep work for the dinner service. This limited options somewhat. I’ve worked in a kitchen before and know how busy things can be preparing for a Friday night dinner service, so I didn’t want to cause any chaos. Still, I was able to work two different angles for variety and knock this part of the shoot out in a few quick minutes. An outdoor portrait (seen above) followed, before we headed to Chen’s home for a couple of causal portraits and more interior and exteriors architectural shots. This was also when the writer conducted her interview.

The full article with a lot more photographs can be seen on the Wall Street Journal.

As for my recovery from injuries, it’s progressing well. Still some healing to do, and a bit more time taking it easy but I’m shooting select assignments again. Having enforced time off has been interesting, shall we say, and I’ll blog about this in the near future.