A slight departure from the traditional adage, one might say that the way to Bob Noto’s stomach is through his camera lens. Before using them to satisfy his expert appetite, the dishes of some of the world’s greatest chefs have been immortalized by the photographer, graphic designer, and – most of all – the ironic and passionate gourmand.
In fine dining food photography, Bob Noto follows a very precise technique: he never uses either a studio or set, but captures the dish in its indigenous habitat – a restaurant. After he places his order, he photographs the dish in just a few short minutes, before it becomes cold and loses flavour. Only later, with his appetite satisfied by the subject of his shot, does he elaborate the work on his computer, with the aim of de-contextualizing the image: the ambience and table settings disappear from the frame. Only the food remains.
While a picture may be worth a thousand words, the proof of Noto’s love of haute-cuisine can also be found in his numbers: over his career, Noto has eaten at elBulli, in Roses, Spain, almost 90 times, and has tried close to 1,200 of Adrià’s dishes. As one of the restaurant’s most expert customers, he was the natural choice to oversee and curate the limited edition volume, Tribulli. A tribute to elBulli: published in only one thousand copies and edited by Rafael Garcia Santos, the book pays homage to the innovative, incomparable cuisine of Ferran Adrià.
With ten juicy questions and answers, we serve you up a portrait of the gourmet photographer.
If you were a dish?
Sweet and sour pork.
What’s the first taste you remember?
Soft caramel candy.
The most incredible taste experience you’ve had in your life?
Grilled eel eaten at Asador Etxebarri.
What’s never missing from your fridge?
A bottle of bubbly.
The perfect taste?
Paccheri pasta with ragù.
What would you happily die eating?
Sea urchins, accompanied by Macon Viré Clessé.
The subject of your first photo?
Alina, a Venetian Siamese cat.
Your first “real” camera?
A Canon reflex FTb bought in 1972.
Black and white or colour?
How do you determine if a food photo is good?
When it stimulates your appetite.
The impossible photo: what or whom would you love to capture?
Benjamin Netanyahu while eating Joselito ham.