New England Clam Chowder
Recipe by Michael Ruggiero, Executive Chef at GlenArbor Golf Club, Bedford Hills, New York, USA
I have been a professional food photographer for over 15 years and Ripert, Thomas Keller, Charlie Trotter, Joel Robuchon, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Anthony Bourdain, Alain Ducasse, and many more world class restaurant chefs. Most of them are now hugely successful entrepreneurs and celebrities'. This elite group has always understood the importance of excellent food photography. Why spend all your time creating gorgeous recipes for your menu only to ruin them with less than flattering food photographs? I remember when the first iPhone was released, and the cell phone photography was so unflattering that some restaurants banned their use! Of course, that has changed now, and thankfully some cell phone photographers are getting much better than the early days, still ugly food shots convey the wrong image of your food and are a turn off to many potential diners.
When I entered the private golf industry, I quickly realized there was a great need for high-quality food photography whether the golf club, country club or resort was serving hamburgers or haute cuisine. Why spend thousands on your golf course photography, clubhouse, interiors, and exteriors and skip the kitchen? Food is not and should never be an afterthought.
When I look for a club to feature in my books or Golf Kitchen Magazine the website is the first place I visit. I can usually tell if the club values the culinary side as they will highlight and compliment their chef, culinary team and services, often displaying the menus and excellent food imagery. However, the website is not the only place a club needs high-quality food photography; there are many places. Food photography draws attention everywhere from social media, newsletters, advertising, magazine and news stories, club banners, posters and more.
How to find a great food photographer.
Food photography is an art form and challenging to learn; more often it is an inborn skill. The golf course photographer is likely not a skilled food photographer and vice versa. I have never been hired to shoot a golf course, while I might be able to take good enough landscapes, I am by no means a golf course photographer as I do not know the game or what golfers are looking for in a great image. I leave that up to specialized golf photographers like Larry Lambrecht, Jacob Sjöman and Evan Schiller. Look for photographers that specialize in food photography and do your homework. Find out if their clients are happy with their services, word of mouth is essential. Local does not always mean better, hire for talent every time.
Reasons to hire a great food photographer to support your great culinary team.
1. Members of upscale private clubs can eat wherever they want. Their palates are advanced. When you produce low-quality food imagery that can be enough for them to go off property to eat, or worse, join a club that values the food and beverage department as much the golf and other facilities.
2. Younger golfers demand higher quality cuisine. This means that you need to hire executive chefs and other culinary team players who match this demand to attract more members to the club, and you will need to support your team by showing off their work with great food photography.
Raspberry Chocolate Pavé
Recipe by Dana Iannelli, Executive Pastry Chef at Addison Reserve Country Club, Delray Beach, Florida, USA
3. My first impression as a non-golfer was how do clubs attract new members, especially the ones who have never played golf? Golfers already play so there is no point preaching to the choir; you need other avenues to get them to the club. Food is one of them. If they feel that a club has an excellent food and wine program and a great golf program and other facilities, that could be the drawcard that brings the club to their attention and then they might also take up the game. More reason to hire a skilled food photographer.
4. Food is a conversation topic. The last thing you want as a private golf or country club is to have members, guests, and media trashing the club's choice of cuisine. Poor food photography can be a bad choice as it shows lack of attention to the food and beverage department.
Deviled Eggs with Crispy Leeks and Candied Bacon
Recipe by Jason Voiselle, Executive Chef at Naples National Golf Club, Naples, Florida, USA
5. Hiring a reputable food photographer has many other perks. Savvy food photographers are very good at marketing, you will likely have your club featured in their marketing and online social media campaigns as well as your own at no extra cost.
About the Author: Diana DeLucia is Founder, President and Editor in Chief of Golf Kitchen Magazine and Golf Kitchen cookbooks. She began her culinary photography career in New York when she photographed for Restaurant Insider Magazine. DeLucia's work was recognized by industry leaders, and she became the food photographer of choice by many. Diana discovered the private golf and country club industry in 2010 and created an entire business surrounding the culinary talent in the industry.
DeLucia launched the Golf Kitchen Culinary Excellence Awards on October 4th, 2018 at Edgewood Country Club in River Vale, New Jersey which is in its third year and has a new home at GlenArbor Golf Club. In 2020, she launched the first of its kind Golf Kitchen Certification of Culinary Excellence with 9 Inaugural members.
Honeycrisp Apple And Butternut Squash Salad with Whipped Ricotta, Zhoug, and Pomegranate
Recipe by Jonathan Hancock, Executive Chef at Richland Country Club, Nashville, Tennessee, USA