There are a lot of great campaigns around, but only few of them become legendary and unforgettable. You watch them over and over again, amazed how timeless they are and you keep asking yourself this same one question: how did they make it happen? We will try to lift the veil of secrecy and look behind the scenes from the perspective of directors, food stylists, sfx engineers and producers. Here is episode one: Miele Generation 7000 campaign in the eyes of food stylist Udo Reichelt-Schaurer.
How do you recall the Miele Generation 7000 campaign? What is its place in your memory?
This project was another beautiful pearl in the realm of great projects I have experienced over the years.
It was a privilege to work with such an amazing team with people flown in from all over the world and to be a part of such a creative and innovative production.
How the co-operation between the director, world renowned chefs, Azuma Makoto and you, as a food stylist, looked like?
It was tremendously challenging to translate the ideas and vision from the director, flower artist and Michelin Star chefs into very elaborate fine dining dishes and camera ready food elements for the shoot. It was an inspiring collaboration, allowing us to work with a huge variety of ingredients and on dishes that were specially created for this shoot by the chefs and my team.
Difficulties could have been generated by the fact that all contributors were consummate professionals in their own fields, but in fact this was the reason that the team gelled so easily – everyone’s expert input was equally valued.
What were the biggest challenges you faced during the preparation and the shooting?
For one of the shoot scenes we needed to use frozen ice blocks with a fish inside. All the blocks were specially created from company in Brussels, together with the frozen flowers.
When the frozen fish blocks arrived it became clear the measurements given were far too big. This was because the type and colour of fish was only available in larger sizes; smaller fish goes straight back into the sea. Thankfully the company sent some spare ice blocks without any fish, so I had to find smaller fish, spray paint the fish in the right colour, cut the ice blocks in half, chisel a bed for the new fish and seal the ice block again.
On the last day we finished all the scenes with one chef and we had to clean and pack up to take the train from Berlin to Hamburg for the next day where we are shooting with the special effects team. I asked the first AD for assurance that we were finished so that everything could be cleared and cleaned. Everything was packed up, taxis booked to take us to the train station and suddenly a very pale-looking first AD told me we had forgotten to shoot two scenes.
A quick solution was needed so I had to ask my assistant to dive in the big dumpster outside to hopefully recover any food items we could find. What a task!
Luckily we managed to find what we needed and so could shoot both scenes. We even managed to get the last train to Hamburg and celebrated with a glass of champagne or two.
Which dish was the most demanding to work on?
All the dishes were very intricate and demanded a lot thought and precision to execute to the high standard of these chefs and it was very important to me to portray every detail of their individual styles throughout each commercial. I received 2 specially created dishes from Helena before the shoot. We had to very quickly change the duck dish due to the colour palette of the flowers Azuma created.
We basically started from the beginning and had to come up with a new idea in a couple of hours before Helena arrived.
Waiting to have your own dish approved by such an experienced chef was a bit nerve-racking to be honest. We also had to very quickly re-create the fish dish to get in line with the flower creation.
Was this job any different than food styling to ‘regular’ table-top shooting days?
The initial creative vision for the shoot involving a ground-breaking new domestic appliance, plus the involvement of leading professionals in other fields differentiated this quite markedly from regular jobs.
The pressure to perform never stopped! There were a lot of different and unique elements to consider and using the harmony that can be generated by the natural world as a catalyst for the fusion of food and technology really stretched us.
As a food stylist my role is always making food look its best and bringing to life the ideas behind the images, and I was pretty uniquely challenged and inspired by the pretty magical combination of flowers, food and appliance.
Your strength or skill you value most:
My team…… and Barbra Streisand!
Nothing is a chore, only a challenge. I’m a great organiser, team builder and inspirer, and pretty unflappable when it comes to difficult situations or deadlines.
I think it is always hard to look at one’s own strengths subjectively but from what I have been told people appreciate my patience, flexibility and relaxed approach to work.
Your dream project:
Difficult to say because hopefully it’s in the future! This came pretty close – stretching my creative abilities, working with other people at the top of their professions, launching an innovative new product. I suspect it would involve something absolutely new and unique – a food item or dish never presented before, plus a great creative root of an idea that needed to be brought to fruition, an imaginative, flexible client and their producer to work with. And a limitless budget of course!
A dream project would be to shoot with monks about their daily food at the Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan with one great team, and I’m not saying it here (because they know :-)…. you never know, maybe one day.
Udo Reichelt-Schaurer, has built a reputation as someone who brings considerable artistic culinary skill and professionalism to his work. A trained chef, he relishes a challenge, can think outside the box, and can step up to deliver on a tight brief. All this he manages with great humour and quiet resolve – he is a great collaborator. Udo has worked on many editorial and packaging still and video shoots around the world. Locations include the US, South America, Asia, the Middle East as well as Europe. He speaks and writes fluent English and German.
To check Udo’s work follow www.udoreicheltschaurer.com and @udo_reichelt_schaurer