When Pim, a few weeks ago, posted on the Ugliest Food Photo Ever, I got inspired. I am not a professional chef, stylist or photographer… but I knew that I could prepare, style and photograph something as wonderful as Tuna Tartare better than the photo that appeared in the New York Times. (Note: the photo is no longer accessible in the article now that it’s been archived… but you can see a version of it on Chez Pim).
I knew that many of my fellow bloggers could as well. I started up a challenge on my other blog (ok, one of my other blogs), Still Life With…, asking other food photographers to try their hand and post their results up on the Still Life With Flickr Pool. The photos can be of Tuna Tartare made by the photographer, or even a photo of the dish they ordered in a restaurant. Variations, such as substituting red pepper for the tuna are welcome as well.
Already, I’ve seen some great shots coming in, like Spittoon Extra who forwent the frisee and let the beautiful piece of tuna take the spotlight; Bea, La Tartine Gourmande, topped her tartare with a fantastic sounding combination of wasabi and ice cream; and Pim, my inspiration for this whole thing, added a vibrant shot of tartare topped with a quails egg that she found at Robuchon in Las Vegas.
Today, I made my attempt. Despite the fact that I think that the recipe overall is unfocused, combining flavors in a fairly mismatched way, I decided to stick closely to the original recipe. I also took some shots with close to the original styling, towering the salad upon the tuna which rested on a bed of thinly sliced cucumber. I didn’t stick the croutons vertically though… that just made no sense.
While I think this photo certainly is more appealing than the original photo, the greens and herbs are simply too wild to be contained. They pleaded to be set free. So, that’s what I did. I toppled the tower.
This more natural arrangement lets the tuna be the focus, complimented by the greens and simply supported by the toasts.
The end result on this recipe? I’m happy with my photos, but I wouldn’t make the dish again and I wouldn’t order it from the restaurant either, other than just to see if the actual dish looks as bad as the photo of it. I still have a little sashimi grade maguro left over that I’m going to need to use for something though, so I may try getting a bit creative with it tomorrow…