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 putting the finishing touches to one of his dishes.

Chef Darren MacLean putting the finishing touches to one of his dishes.

Chef Darren MacLean is the proprietor of Shokunin, which has been voted one of Canada’s top 50 restaurants.

A quick blast to get the texture just right.

A quick blast to get the texture just right.

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.

Bowls ready to be served at Shokunin.

Bowls ready to be served at Shokunin.

He now employs traditional Japanese cooking methods and takes pride in food coming out of his kitchen.

 

Darren places a plate on the counter top.

Darren places a plate on the counter top.

The dish is ready to be served.

The dish is ready to be served.

Translating terms between languages is not always easy. Darren explained that the word Shokunin means ‘artisan’ or ‘craftsman’ but has a much deeper meaning.

Darren looks out from the kitchen.

Darren looks out from the kitchen.

‘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.

A rose fashioned from sashimi.

A rose fashioned from sashimi.

Using high grade ingredients

High grade ingredients, including Kobe beef and specially selected sake, are served at Shokunin.

Melt in the mouth Kobe beef being grilled at Shokunin.

Melt in the mouth Kobe beef being grilled at Shokunin.

Darren ensures that, where appropriate, quality ingredients from Alberta and elsewhere in are used.  That means locally raised, grass-fed beef plus seafood shipped from British Columbia.

Artistically presented seafood.

Artistically presented seafood.

Photographing Darren and his work

Watching Darren’s attention to detail made him a joy to photograph.

Darren spooning ingredients from a pan.

Darren spooning ingredients from a pan.

His facial expressions are intense as he concentrates on his work and arranging the food.

Ensuring every leaf and petal is properly placed.

Ensuring every leaf and petal is properly placed.

Yet when he is not focusing on preparing dishes, Darren is a convivial host.

A master's hands at work.

A master’s hands at work.

I chose to focus on his hands and face.

Mouthwatering ingredients being plated.

Mouthwatering ingredients being plated.

I photographed using only the ambient light, in an effort to convey the atmosphere of Shokunin.

A dark background and brightly lit foreground.

A dark background and brightly lit foreground.

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.

Melt-in-the-mouth Kobe beef.

Melt-in-the-mouth Kobe beef.

‘Great’ is a term that is used too often online and in blog posts, where superlatives are frequently over used. Yet I really do regard dining at Shokunin as one of the great meals of my life. 

Grate shot!

Grate shot!

Further information

Shokunin is at 2016 4 Street SW (tel. +1-403-229-3444) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Check the Shokinin website for opening times and to make online reservations.

If you like what you see, why not contact Why Eye Photography to commission food photography. 

Darren MaClean puts down another plate.

Darren MacLean puts down another plate.

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2 Comments

  1. Kathryn Burrington 21st July 2017 at 5:49 pm #

    I’m so hungry now! Love the expressions you’ve captured. Grate shots indeed 😉

    • Stuart Forster 24th July 2017 at 10:35 am #

      Thank you for your feedback, Kathryn. The cuisine served at Shokunin is well worth a look if you get to Calgary.

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