A few years ago, my husband, Yes! Chef!, had the opportunity to work with Chef John Evans at Zachary Jacques Restaurant in Placerville. He and his wife are co-owners and he is the chef. We have been dining at Zachary Jacques for many years and had always loved the food. So, it was a wonderful opportunity for my husband to be able to intern one or two days a week for over a year under this excellent chef. Chef John was an” honors graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. He has worked and trained under Chef Mark Hopper of Thomas Kelller’s Bouchon in Las Vegas. He also opened Mesa Grill in Caesars Palace with Bobby Flay.”
I have also been doing some of his photography for him for several years.
Recently he opened a new restaurant called ZacJack Bistro. And he gave me a call to come on down and take a few pics for his web page.
My assistant, Yes! Chef!, and I arrived at about 4:00 p.m. on a Saturday night and there were open tables. By the time we left at 6:30 or so, the place was packed. We set our photography station up near the front door where the light was good from the huge windows and we let the Chef John know we were ready.
Now here’s the deal. The Chef made up the food, we quickly photographed it and then moved the next meal in for photographing. We set the already photographed dishes on a small counter behind us. During the down time, while we were waiting for the next dish to arrive, we got to eat the ones that had already been photographed. Yes! Absolutely one of the bonuses of the job.
We had to be quick with the photos because the dish being photographed, the “Hero”, would begin to look not as fresh as it cooled down. That was the nerve wracking part. Also, as customers began to stream in they were very curious to see what I was doing but better yet, it was great advertisement because the Chef made sure they were beautiful as well as tasty. People would say things like, “Oh! My! that looks great” and “What is that dish? I think I might order that” or “Do you guys get to eat this when you are done?” Ha! I would just smile.
At one point we had 4 or 5 dishes lined up on the counter and the customers would walk by them pointing and drooling. Then, Yes! Chef! and I dug in, taking bites of this one or that one, commenting and savoring. I could tell that Yes! Chef! would give his right arm to get in the kitchen with Chef John and watch/help him cook. I think he got a few ideas after tasting some of the food.
By the time Chef John brought out a dessert, we were really too stuffed to try it.
The good news is that I only photographed dinner and I will be going back to catch not only lunch, but breakfast on the patio, too.
Tough job, but somebody has to do it.