Thursday, April 3, 2014

CNOS3 Challenge #2 - The Nomnom Challenge

Hi guys! 
I am finally back with a update on CNOS3's 2nd Challenge

The Nomnom Challenge
In this challenge, contestants will be grouped randomly in different teams and each team will have to prepare the selected desserts that will be judged at the end by the chefs and judges for the dessert's flavour, presentation and final photo!

Without further ado, let me introduce the meetup location for this challenge!
Its none other than the familiar

Charlie Brown Cafe
8 Grange Road
#04-01 Cathay Cineleisure Orchard
Singapore 239695

Tel: +65 6836 5344

One of the kind sponsors of this whole competition event as well!

A collaged photo of two of Charlie Brown Cafe's mascots! 
(Since Charlie brown cafe's concept is actually deduced from a cartoon show) 
Here are Snoopy (Left) & Charlie Brown himself! (Right)

The cosy interior of the cafe with the perfect lighting!

And some of the cafe's merchandises.

For this challenge, my groupmates are:
 Chrysan - Who would be taking the role of Chef Assistant/Videographer/Narrator/etc
Clinton - The Chef
and last but not least, ME, 
Eugenia (yeah, you are at my blog now) - Who is just going to take the role of Camera Man and snap photos away.

Upon reaching the location, since my group's time-slot was arranged to be the last few, it was tentative that we would be preparing pancakes - the signature desserts of Charlie Brown Cafe. Since the whole cafe was filled with aroma and tables were stacked with pancakes.

And here's a small glimpse into the kitchen which teams will be lining up for the task that morning!

Our very nice chef as well as the judge, Nicole, which will be grading us on our final product. 
(We actually have two tries, the 1st attempt, followed by the final attempt.)

Yup, so this is her demonstrating the whole process of pancake making and this is the part where she explains to us the different flavors and colors of the sauce which will be used for food styling.
There are strawberry, apple, peach and raspberry respectively.

Everyone ended up choosing strawberry since the rest of the sauces was probably too watery or faint in color. 

So the 1st tip of food styling here is that 
"The color chosen for food styling for decoration purposes for final presentation is indeed very important. "
Unless in other cases, the customer requests for the certain flavor he/she prefers.

And here am I, behind the scenes, all bun-ned up and ready for the challenge, kitchen tasks are not at all glamorous as it seems, kudos to all chefs around the world!

The crepe griddle stove that has to be set at a very high temperature of 180 Degree Celsius for us to fry our pancakes. Be careful! Nicole showed us her scars that was brought by from this equipment :(.

The very skillful team member clinton, I guess the only guy who will actually volunteer to be chef, husband material guys!! hahaha. 

Tip on pancake preparation. 
"Be sure to carefully gauge the amount of batter before pouring it on the surface of the crepe griddle in circle-liked shapes so that the pancakes would be on the preferable sizes."
"Make sure not to carelessly drip excess batter (if you did, don't worry, you can scrape it away!) and smooth out the edges of the pancakes so that the end product would be shaped perfectly!"

"Once the round edge of the pancakes looks more "shiny" and the middle starts to bubble, you can check the base of the pancake sticking on the griddle for the nice caramel brown the chefs are looking out for, before flipping them over with just one swift quick action of turning your wrist!"

"When the pancakes start to "fluff" up, gently pat them with the fryer to ensure that bottom side of the pancakes are cooked thoroughly!"

After which, its finally time for the Chef and Assistant chef to work in hand for food styling and presentation on the white plate provided. I have nicely complied the steps instructed by Nicole in this photo below. :)

(Cause apparently I had to multitask photography as well as video-graphy as things were getting more tensed up in the kitchen as each group was only assigned 5 mins for one try. So I didn't manage to capture much shots of the sauce scribbling & food styling my apologies! hahaha)

More tips on food styling & presentation on the dessert.

Group shot after the first attempt! I thought everyone did a great job but Clinton still thought he could have done better so we were there to encourage him!!! :D

And of course, check out the difference between the first attempt (above) and the final attempt (below). Such vast improvement and its time for us to take the best shot of the dessert!!

"There are several design of characters that the metal sieves will produce like Woodstock, Snoopy, Linus and others, we went with the mainsteam Snoopy for our final pancakes!?

Other than common factors of the right lighting, focuses of camera shots in photography, angles are pretty important too! (Especially in this case of photographing FOOD yummy!)

Let me introduce a few angles I took of the food.

For the first shot of the final pancakes, I decided that it would be simple, the texture of the tables at Charlie Brown Cafe indeed helped in the contrast it brought our from the pancakes to the background in this photo.

Angle: Tilt Away
The camera is also tilted left, so the subject of the photo tilts clockwise, distancing away from me, involving viewers to indulge in this photo like how they would want to indulge themselves in this dessert.

For the second shot on-wards, I decided to bring in simple crockery as well as Charlie Brown Cafe's menu to enhance the overall look of the shot.

Angle: From Above
My camera is positioned directly above the subjects that is perfectly centered. This will produce a very contemporary and graphic look end result. 

I love food photography, and my style is always the more complicated the better, (Haha I'm complicated.) thus I always like to have a table filled with food or utensils to make my food capture the perfect shot which explains why the tableware still remains. 

Angle: Tilt Towards with Perspective
Despite that, I made sure that the main focus of the shot is still none other than the pancakes and the camera is positioned in front and close up to them, maintaining a graphic dynamic composition that will engage the eye to scan the image from the foreground to the background. Highlighting the main point of the shot- THE PANCAKES!!

Here's a short vlog from our group on our pancake preparation uploaded onto Clinton's youtube channel!

Now that you have FEASTED your eyes on the pancakes, let me end off with some photos I took! Look at the amount of cutlery our pancakes brought to our plate! 

Chrysan being hardworking behind the scenes!

It was quite disappointing I didn't manage to get a picture with Misstamchiak because I always read food blogs and hers is one of those I will frequent to update my list of food places I should go. 

But I was too busy listening to instructions Chef Nicole was giving repeatedly to groups for the challenge, so I missed out on the tips! But here's a picture with the very kind Nicole after awarding us our grades! :)

Not forgetting Chrysan!

& Clinton!

& with some other contestants - My twin, trista and natalie! (team 7, twin's group)

Shots with twin again!

My team prepping the kitchen taken from Chrysan's camera.

I have learnt so much and had so much fun that day with my new friends. (my teammates!!)

I hope you guys had fun and learnt something about food preparation, styling, presentation and photography from my post too! Its easy for food to go through the digestive system (HAHAHA SORRY) but its all hardwork thanks to all the chef behind the scenes to satisfy us as customers so please do appreciate and don't waste food!!!

xoxo, eugenia. 

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