Behind the Scenes: Martin Schoeller Shoots (and Eats!) with Three Famous Chefs

Martin Schoeller for TIME
Martin Schoeller for TIME
Alex Atala, René Redzepi and David Chang in the lake at Nyoda Girls Camp in Oak Ridge, N.J., on October 11, 2013.

When Martin Schoeller was thinking about how he wanted to photograph Alex Atala, René Redzepi, and David Chang, he decided they should head for the wilds, an approach in keeping with the celebrated chefs’ own hunter-gather inspired and informed kitchens. Schoeller, of course, also wanted to infuse the portraits with his signature sense of humor. Thankfully, his subjects were game.

Of his request that the three wear the slightly goofy-looking, traditional chefs hats, Schoeller says, “I wasn’t sure they were gonna do it because…most people take themselves very seriously and they’re not willing to do something conceptual and slightly funny. So, I was glad they agreed.”

Hats aside, the woodsy shoot was comfortable for Atala, Redzepi, and Chang whose friendships and camaraderie are unusual in the highly-competitive restaurant industry. Schoeller relays, “They are good friends, they know each other well and hang out and it wasn’t very farfetched from what they normally do. They’ve been hunting together; they’ve been fishing together. I basically re-created a scene they’ve done in the past and just added the hats. “

The final image, in fact, was a result of Atala’s uncontainable enthusiasm for fishing. Schoeller was initially photographing the three as they sat in a boat. But, on a break back on shore and still in his element, Atala strode into the water to practice his fishing cast. Schoeller realized this was the shot and asked Redzepi and Chang to also wade in with their rods. And so, Schoeller walked away with the biggest catch of the day.


Martin Schoeller is a photographer based in New York. See more of his work here.

Sara Distin is a writer and editor based in Boulder, CO, and Brooklyn, NY. Follow her on Twitter @sldistin.


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