Chef Darren MacLean at Shokunin, Calgary

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 concentrating while putting the finishing touches to one of his dishes at Shokunin in Calgary, Alberta

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

Chef Darren MacLean at Shokunin in Calgary

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

A quick blast of a blow torch to get the texture of sashimi 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 of noodles ready to be served at Shokunin in Calgary, Alberta.

Bowls ready to be served at Shokunin.

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

The hands of Chef Darren Maclean placing a plate of Japanese cuisine on the counter top of Shokunin in Calgary.

The hands of Chef Darren Maclean placing a plate of Japanese cuisine on the counter top of Shokunin in Calgary.

A delicious-looking dish ready to be served at Shokunin.

A delicious-looking dish ready to be served at Shokunin.

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

Black and white image of Chef Darren MacLean at Shokunin, Calgary, looking out from the kitchen in a moody pose.

Photographing Chef Darren MacLean at Shokunin in Calgary involved capturing this shot of him looking 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 sashimi rose with a sharp sushi knife served at Calgary's highly rated Shokunin restaurant.

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 over flames in the kitchen of Shokunin, a Japanese restaurant in Alberta's biggest city..

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.

A scallop artistically presented on a shell at Shokunin Japanese restaurant in Calgary, Alberta.

Artistically presented seafood.

Photographing Darren Shokunin

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

Darren MacLean spooning ingredients from a pan next to counter lights while working in the kitchen at Shokunin in Calgary.

Darren spooning ingredients from a pan.

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

Darren MacLean ensuring every leaf and petal is properly placed while plating food in the kitchen of Shokunin in Calgary.

Ensuring every leaf and petal is properly placed.

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

Chef plating Japanese style cuisine in Calgary, Alberta.

A master’s hands at work.

I chose to focus on his hands and face.

Mouth-watering ingredients being plated in the kitchen of Shokunin, the highly-rated Japanese restaurant in Calgary.

Mouth-watering 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 in Shokunin, one of Canada's top restaurants.

A dark background and brightly lit foreground in Shokunin, one of Canada’s top restaurants.

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 at Shokunin.

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. 

Chef Darren MacLean at Shokunin, Calgary grating zest into a plate of Japanese-influenced cuisine.

Grate shot of Darren MacLean at work in the kitchen at Shokunin!

Further information

Shokunin is at 2016 4 Street SW (tel. +1-403-229-3444) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. See the Shokinin website for details about opening times to make a reservation.

The hand of chef Darren MacLean presents a plate of skewered grilled meat at his Shokunin restaurant in Calgary, Alberta

The hand of chef Darren MacLean presents a plate of skewered grilled meat at his Shokunin restaurant in Calgary, Alberta

Book a photography shoot

Enjoy this post about photographing Chef Darren MacLean at Shokunin in Calgary, Alberta? You may enjoy the foot photography in this post about Latvia travel photography and food images.

If you like what you see and want to commission travel photography please contact Why Eye Photography

Want to commission a photography shoot? Please give me a call on 07947 587136 or email stuart@whyeyephotography.com to discuss your photography requirements.

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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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