As the title suggest, the exhibit theme wrests on the notoriety of Venice as a center of romantic liaisons, seductions and scandals, the likes of Casanova and the many courtesans that frequented the city. Yet, Venice was much more than that. It was a cauldron of intellectual activity, of industry, literature, and music. It was a society that for many years ensured the peace, prosperity and freedom of its people. And it was also a very pious city, one steeped in Roman Catholicism where many churches were built by its richest and most influential citizens.
When I got the call to see if I was interested in shooting a small brochure for a wine company, I was pretty keen and in the end it turned into a pretty big shoot. The brochure tuned into a small book and we organised to shoot almost a full week at Joe Grilli’s house and then a day or so at his cellar door in McLaren Vale. Joe owns Primo Estate Wines.
This was a cookbook with a difference. The brief was all about family. Each shot had to have a family member in it somewhere because all of the recipes are old family recipes, passed down for generations. It gives the images a different feel having people in shot as well. Most of the close-up images of just food were quick grabs before we cleaned up and moved onto the next dish. Joe’s house is a beautiful open space building with great natural light, so we barely had to light anything, which gives the dishes a lovely warmth and natural homely look. Everything was cooked on site apart from a few slow-cook dishes and they were all cooked by family members. Occasionally Joe would say, “Let’s cook that dish next instead and we can have it for lunch.” Then we’d all sit outside in the sunshine, eat delicious food with liberal splashes of his olive oils and drink his Tuscan wines. It was fantastic! He’s a very interesting man to talk to and a delight to work with. He’d wander around the house chuckling to himself and he made such an impact on me and my own cooking style that I’m delighted every time I bump into him.