(*From May 23, 2016)
Sometimes, dealing with and preparing food isn’t always just the meal and its ingredients themselves. The space in which you are cooking needs to be set in order too. That was the focus of today’s experience. I spent some time decluttering and cleaning out the studio refrigerator, sorting out the wilted produce from the firm and crisp. After that, I helped Kate brush some olive oil on pita bread and cut out tortilla strips and did the same for them. These would turn out as chips for two different recipes. The pita chips went along with grilled shrimp that was marinated in tomato and white sultana chutney and topped with a spicy cucumber salad. The corn tortilla strips will be for a taco salad that we make tomorrow after noon.
The former dish was presented to Applegate Farms’ Creative Director who was at Kate and Guy’s studio today. We made this for her as they discussed what would be done with the photos they took last Thursday at the shoot. In addition, Kate uploaded the beautiful shrimp dish onto their Instagram, @andweate. While I was cleaning up dishes and loading and unloading dishwashers today, Kate was also preparing a tomato salad that was drizzled with a bacon grease (!!!) vinaigrette, scallions, thyme, and crumbled Applegate bacon (by which I cut up and reduced myself!). Guy photographed this process, step-by-step. Applegate will take these shots and use them for Pinterest.
So, while today was a light work day for me, I devoted much of my mental energy to truly thinking about how it can answer my essential question…
First off, something to consider when bringing my product to market is its’ shelf life. Just like the withering herbs and rotting cabbage in some of the refrigerator bins, my food product can and will spoil if it’s left for too long without being used (eaten). Kate told me to take the unsalvageable vegetable scraps and throw them in her compost bin, a very admirable and sustainable thing that they do in their kitchen. I can’t do this same thing with my left over dessert product, which is why I make very small batches at a time. It makes me wonder if I should use preservatives in my product, or will keeping it frozen prevent spoilage well enough.
All of the cleaning that I did today hones in on the importance of keeping your prep area clean to prevent contamination from pathogenic microorganisms and bacteria. I think it’s pretty neat that Food Science is largely to thank for the recognition of food safety. Food science, according to the IFT, “provides the scientific base that ensures our food supply is safe—from initial storage through processing, transportation, and retail channels, until the consumer purchases the product—and beyond. Every day, food scientists are developing new processes, monitoring conditions and testing foods for contamination in order to prevent foodborne illness.” That being said, we can still get into trouble if we don’t do our part in ensuring the last step of the consumption process, preparation in the kitchen, is clean.
The pita bread that Kate utilized happened to be a high-protein, lower carb variety that she stated that she didn’t like because it tasted like chemicals. I checked the pita bread bag, and sure enough, the ingredient list was your standard, long list of various components that are typically found in “processed” bread products. I don’t eat enough of these products to compare the difference, but I thought it was interesting that her taste buds could discern the taste of these “chemical-y” pita chips from traditional, whole food ingredient based ones. In my own product, I use some less than natural products that I am looking to phase out, and it makes me wonder what the impact on the taste would be.
The last thing I was able to observe today, in yet another way, is just how important social media has become as a platform for marketing products and how much time goes into just a single advertisement. I was speaking with the creative director, and she said that it has taken them years to make progress on re-envisioning packaging design and the new website layout for Applegate. I was also able to see the process of making an Instagram-worthy food dish, all the styling that is involved and what equipment is needed. Guy has multiple professional cameras that are operated with something like a tripod, but much bigger and moves around on a track built into the ceiling. The photography of the tomato salad was a multi-step process for Pinterest, and the placement of each and every element of the photograph, down to the parsley sprigs “tossed” on the table is purposeful.