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Donny Tsang's Foodaissance photo project is on display at the James Beard House through October. Pictured: Jen King and Liz Gutman of Liddabit Sweets. © Donny Tsang

Food photographer (and occasional Nona contributor) Donny Tsang has hit the foodie-photog big time–his show, “Foodaissance,” features photographs of some of our favorite Brooklyn artisanal food makers at work, and it’s being shown at the James Beard House. The show runs at the Beard House’s Greenhouse Gallery through October.

We caught up with Donny to ask about Foodaissance and food photography.

How did you get the idea for Foodaissance?

It was actually a couple things that came together that inspired me. First of all, I’m a huge fan of Liza de Guia‘s work on Food Curated. We focus so much on the food itself, sometimes we forget about the foodmakers. Liza’s work is important because it brings what is usually considered as behind-the-scenes/inside the kitchen, upfront. The second thing that happened was Eastern District, a beer and cheese shop in Greenpoint. I’m friends with Chris and Beth, the owners, and we thought it be nice to have some before and after shots of the store while they were renovating the place. So Liza’s work inspired me and Eastern District got the ball rolling for me.

Nicole Chaszar of Sea Bean Goods, at work. © Donny Tsang.

What were the biggest challenges shooting in busy kitchens?

Besides accidentally knocking things over?  Pointing a camera into their faces while trying to not get in their way. Oh, and also going to a shoot hungry because the smell of deliciousness really tempts you to steal a cupcake or two, ha!

What makes food photography interesting to you? What drew you to it in the first place?

I used to do wedding photography and eventually just didn’t want to deal with the pressure from it, like brides and parents being overly bossy. Food doesn’t talk back! Food photography is interesting to me because writing about food can only go so far in describing the food. I rarely have cravings just by reading about how delicious a dish is but a photo can show you that.

Fany Gerson of La Newyorkina. © Donny Tsang.

I had started a food blog with a friend, Eat to Blog, and so I had been taking photos of food before starting the Foodaissance project.

What do you think makes Brooklyn a haven for artisanal food makers?

Brooklyn is such a haven for artisanal  food makers because of all the other artisanal food makers. There is such a strong bond and community of foodmakers in Brooklyn that it’s hard not to be inspired by one another.

How did your show get to the James Beard house? Where do you hope to take it next?

Well, basically I emailed them a description of my project and my portfolio and just waited. I think I got lucky because while meeting with their curator, she told me that they don’t get many artists from Brooklyn.

A few weeks ago while leaving the Chelsea Market, I noticed 2 guys prepping a bunch of photos in an empty space near the entrance on 9th Ave. So I think I’m going to try and see if I can have a show there next.

For more information on Foodaissance, click here. Congrats, Donny!

You can visit the show at The James Beard House’s Greenhouse Gallery, at 167 West 12th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues in Manhattan, through October.

All photos copyright Donny Tsang. All Rights Reserved.


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One Response to Donny Tsang’s “Foodaissance” Takes Brooklyn to the Beard House

  1. Wayne Surber says:

    Hi Joanna and Hi Donnie,
    Donnie’s incredibly humble and he forgot to mention that he ran a fantastic campaign that helped finance his printing and framing, which I think is important for others that want to do something in this vein.

    Good stuff.

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