April 2, 2012
One woman's large (and growing) collection of chef photos


How many Sacramento chefs can you identify? Well, there's an impressive collection of photos on Facebook that will help put a face with the name -- and, perhaps, their food. Check them out here

Since I don't want to spoil it, here's a hint on the photo above: it's the new executive chef at one of the city's most elegant restaurants..

The photos are the work of Debbie Cunningham, a state employee who has become increasingly passionate about photography and manages to squeeze in assignments during her off hours.. She has routinely photographed special food-related events and has been invited to shoot candid behind-the-scenes action in some of the city's top kitchens.

Taking photos of food and restaurants has attracted quite a few photographers in the area. Recently, I interviewed Rik Keller about his interest in food photohgraphy. Read the interview here.

I asked Cunningham to tell us a little about her photography, and the two-dozen-and-counting shots of chefs in her collection. Here's part of what she wrote:

I truly love photographing everything: people, pets, events, landscapes, you name it. The focus on chefs, restaurants and food came about almost accidentally. I had won the Sellands' photography contest and the prize was dinner for two at The Kitchen. I took more photos over that dinner, some of which the Sellands started to use on their website and in emails. People started to see my work on Facebook and that's kind of what I became "known", in the very smallest sense of the word, for. Both the Sellands and Facebook have been instrumental in helping to get my work "out there".

But I do really get a kick out of photographing in restaurant kitchens! The energy is amazing and it's almost like a dance trying to get shots without getting in the way and/or wearing the food. I enjoy the dance.

As for future plans...depends how far out you are talking about. This weekend I will be doing a combination event/cookbook shoot. This month I will be finishing up shooting for Boulevard Bistro in Elk Grove, as well as doing some work for the new, and much anticipated, Blackbird Kitchen and Bar (I did several prior shoots for Kevin O'Connor at Tree House). I try not to schedule too much work because I have a day job and lord knows I don't want my passion for photography to be dampened by making it feel too much like work.

Cunningham tells me some of the chef photos will be on display later this month at Tuli Bistro (corner of 21st and S streets in midtown).

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Bee's restaurant critic. Follow him on Twitter, @blarob.

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