Stuart Forster discusses photographing Chef Darren MacLean at Shokunin in Calgary, Alberta.
It’s always fascinating to watch a master at work. That’s possible by taking a seat looking into the open kitchen of Shokunin in Calgary, Canada.
Chef Darren MacLean at Shokunin in Calgary
Japanese cuisine and Shokunin’s meaning
Darren has spent time in Japan, immersing himself in Japanese culture. Visiting restaurants was a part of that experience.
He now employs traditional Japanese cooking methods and takes pride in the food coming out of his kitchen.
Translating terms between languages is not always easy. Darren explained that the word Shokunin means ‘artisan’ or ‘craftsman’ but has a much deeper meaning.
‘Shokunin’ also conveys a sense of undertaking a task or doing a job to one’s absolute best. That, he explained, is what he strives to do with each dish that he serves.
Using high-grade ingredients
High-grade ingredients, including Kobe beef and specially selected sake, are served at Shokunin.
Darren ensures that, where appropriate, quality ingredients from Alberta and elsewhere are used. That means locally raised, grass-fed beef plus seafood shipped from British Columbia.
Photographing Darren Shokunin
Watching Darren’s attention to detail made him a joy to photograph.
His facial expressions are intense as he concentrates on his work and arranging the food.
Yet when he is not focusing on preparing dishes, Darren is a convivial host.
I chose to focus on his hands and face.
I photographed using only the ambient light, in an effort to convey the atmosphere of Shokunin.
Looking around at the wall art in Shokunin, I think it would make a great space to photograph in and could work well as a backdrop to fashion shoots.
‘Great’ is a term that is used too often online and in blog posts, where superlatives are frequently overused. Yet I really do regard dining at Shokunin as one of the great meals of my life.
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