Imagine our surprise when Food & Wine came knocking on our door (or email inbox).
They wanted recipes for our food and shots of little red stools for their September issue, and immediately our brains started going.
For the shoot, our friend Eric Wolfinger came to mind. We met him in last February in Hanoi, which was both the last stop on both of our separate trips to Vietnam. We spent one full day eating street food, cafe hopping, and playing cards. So when it came time to recreate this experience in photos, we had to ask Eric.
Unfortunately Food & Wine wasn’t able to meet us out here, so it was up to us to figure out how we wanted to shoot this. Below are some stories behind the photos in the September issue (out on stands now!)
You can read the Food & Wine article here.
Location scouting is one of our favorite parts of the pop-up — going door-to-door in the Mission, asking people if we could set up for one day. Eric and I caught a glimpse of factory 1 while we were driving on Valencia — we came to a pit stop and pulled an illegal U-turn to make our way down to the end of Clinton Park’s alleyway.
Owners Kelly Hill and Larisa Pedroncelli were the sweetest folks with a beautiful live/work space. Their metal and woodworking studio definitely represented SF’s creative spirit while still having the industrial feel of Vietnam. It made it easy for our team of interns and friends to turn factory 1 into Saigon.
When it came time to prepare for the shoot, Katie, Eric, and I scoured Kamei for Asian plateware, and squatted on the floors with tons of plates, sauces, and bowls in front of us while we deliberated which ones to buy.
Eric picked out the plate for this shot — we were both skeptical at first (Is this too kitschy?) but after it was set up it was the perfect one to compliment the Claypot Chicken with Sticky Rice dish, one of the eats introduced to us by Valerie’s cousin in the Mekong Delta.
We were so excited to be able to contribute recipes and spread the good word about Vietnamese food. Through these recipes, we wanted to share new flavors and Asian cooking techniques.
For the Crispy Pork, Shrimp and Cabbage Imperial Rolls recipe, we shared a new technique for rolling imperial rolls - something we learned after shadowing cooks in Saigon. During the shoot Katie and Eric had trouble finding a shot that worked for the rolls, until Katie remembered how Vietnamese people love to stack things in pyramid form. It worked beautifully for this shot.
One of our favorite images of Vietnam were the office workers who would take time in the morning to sit and chill at a pop-up Vietnamese cafe before work. We wanted to recreate that scene in the Financial District, hoping to lure people dressed in office attire with Vietnamese coffee. But no such luck — no one would take the time to have coffee. We got good shots anyway.
We were excited to put on the food styling hat and work with our food to communicate our inspiration and the Rice Paper Scissors aesthetic in three succinct food shots. Somewhere between a pop-up cafe and kitchen, we found home.
And then there’s pictures that didn’t make the cut. Like an after-hours shoot fueled by whisky and Arinell’s pizza, where we snuck down the BART take shots of our ao dai blowing in the wind. Or us dancing on top of our U-Haul van and a street post lighting our hair as we’re headbanging.
But for now we have these awesome shots in Food & Wine. Go pick up a copy today or read the online version and make some food. Let us know how it turns out :)