Its 7:00 am on a Saturday. And, yes I'm awake, because I have a long, food-filled day ahead of me (that includes a savory Thanksgiving Mac and Cheese for my blog, The Food Joy). 

It probably sounds absurd to make such a filling dish so early in the morning, but I work a full-time job and often am eating at a restaurant after work. The weekends is when I have time to develop recipes for my blog. I also prefer to take photos in natural light, which explains (I hope) why I’m making mac and cheese on a Saturday morning.

Breakfast

Before I get into the cheesiness, I head to my corner bodega and get a fresh juice in an effort to be healthy, but mostly because I know that I'm probably (most definitely) going to indulge later at brunch followed by an early dinner...and probably some ice cream. My go-to juice is a beet, apple, lemon, celery, parsley and ginger. And it’s about half the price as the name brand juice companies…Brooklyn bodega for the win!

pumpkin, vegetable, pasture
Photo by The Food Joy

Usually when I cook it's a very relaxing experience for me. I don't often host dinner parties because I enjoy the quiet, creative and even meditative process of cooking. Today is a bit unusual as I decided to let another food influencer, Ben Hon of @StuffBenEats, into my "cucina" (Italian kitchen) to help document what goes into a recipe.

Spoon University also let me do a takeover of their Snapchat so my solitary cooking process was definitely flipped on its head, but I enjoy sharing my process with others! coffee, beer
Photo courtesy of @StuffBenEats

With the big turkey day approaching I wanted to come up with a unique way to enjoy all those delicious leftovers. I came up with a Cheddar, Fontina and Brie Mac and Cheese with Turkey and Cranberries and a toasted breadcrumb topping!

Trust me...it's as amazing as it sounds. I'm definitely not waiting a whole year before making this again.

Cooking something for my blog often takes longer than when I’m just making myself dinner or cooking for others. In order to get a great photo, attention to detail really matters, for example, cutting things symmetrically or the same size.

cheese, rice, salt
Photo courtesy of @StuffBenEats

Then I set up my "photograph studio" aka I put two large MDF boards that I painted as backgrounds for my food photos and set them up in my bedroom next to the window for some nice natural lighting. If I don’t have the luxury of shooting during the day, I have two large artificial lights that I’ll probably never get over how ridiculous looking it is setting these things up in my bedroom!

coffee, beer
Photo courtesy of @StuffBenEats

I usually spend about anywhere from 20 minutes to almost an hour photographing the dish depending on how complicated it is. I was in a rush so I shot for about 15 minutes before heading to brunch.

Brunch

It’s about 11:00 am and I’m off to West Village for brunch with another food influencer and friend, Herb Galang of @thesocialpause, at Bar Bolonat. They have my favorite baked eggs, or shakshuka, in the city!

soup, tomato, curry, chicken, chili
Photo by The Food Joy

The large, beautiful windows made for great lighting—but this isn’t always the case at every restaurant. With time and comfortability being a food blogger, now I don't hesitate to walk my food right outside or up to the window for a better shot. I also carry a portable external LED light for after the sun sets to get the best photo possible.

coffee, beer, wine
Photo courtesy of @TheSocialPause

I have always strived to make my photos the focal point of my blog. Since food is so visual, the best compliment I ever receive is when people tell me they get hungry looking at my photos.

sweet, pancake, pastry, berry, crepe, strawberry, cake, syrup, cream, jam
Photo by The Food Joy

Snacktime

After an indulgent brunch, we had about two hours to kill before we met up with some more influencers for an early dinner...so naturally we went to a puppy store and ate ice cream at Van Leeuwens in their East Village location. I'm in love with their vegan ice cream flavors, like their new passion fruit layer cake. I also couldn’t resist one of their staple vegan flavors—dark chocolate.

cream, chocolate, ice, goody, sweet, wafer, ice cream, chocolate ice cream, waffle
Photo by The Food Joy

Lighting and food photography really go hand in hand. With the changing of the seasons, us Instagrammers have to battle Mother Nature and the earlier setting of the sun, which is why we’re all meeting at 3:00 pm for dinner so we can take pictures before the sun sets.

Photo courtesy of @TheSocialPause

Dinner

So 3:00 pm dinner it is! Herb and I then met up with Ben Hon of @StuffBenEats (from earlier), Jeff Woo of @FoodMento, and Jared Zuckerman from @FoodAndCity. We were checking out a new Mexican-Kosher fast casual restaurant in the Upper West Side, appropriately named Mexikosher. Jared @FoodAndCity also caught some behind the scenes footage of Ben and me trying to get some #TacoTuesday shots.

beer, wine
Photo courtesy of @FoodAndCity

I’m thankful to have met a great group of people who are just as talented as they are enjoyable to be around! We’ve evolved to not only taking pictures of food…but mocking ourselves in the process by documenting what it takes to get that Instagram-worthy shot. Check more out at @IGFoodFam!