The Sarment Icons 2014 Cookbook & Fashion Calendar
Next year is getting closer and closer – so it's time to start picking up presents for 2014. And what could be better than the new Sarment Icons 2014 Cookbook and Calendar? Hong Kong chef Jason Black and food and lifestyle photographer Josephine Rozman have created the city's first ever cookbook calendar, featuring 12 top HK chefs and portraying them as fashion models. And it also contains 60 fab recipes from some of the best culinary minds in the city. What could be better for all those foodies out there? But don't let us tell you how amazing this cookbook and calendar is. Let Jason Black do that…
Hi Jason! Can you tell us your inspiration behind the cookbook and calendar?
I had an idea to do a meat-based calendar last year. I met up with Josephine for a coffee and a good chat and we discussed food, photography and how chefs are portrayed. The chat was the inspiration to revisit the calendar idea and combine it with recipes to make it fun and interesting.
This cookbook covers two very different yet popular topics – food and fashion. What made you want to combine these topics?
We are so used to seeing chefs dressed in whites, generally with a glass of wine in hand! Chefs work long, hard, stressful hours and generally they are a good, fun bunch. I wanted to portray them outside of that environment and allow the character of the person show rather than the 'white jacket' stereotype! Food and fashion are seasonal, but the classics never date! One of the other great parts of the calendar is that we approached several top brands and they agreed to come on board. We worked with Thomas Pink, The Armoury, Alfred Dunhill, Ika Butoni, Bulgari and Angela Chung, who managed to style all of the chefs beautifully. Graff Diamonds provided US$15million worth of jewellery too!
There are so many amazing chefs in Hong Kong! Was it difficult deciding which 12 to feature?
Hong Kong is a city filled with very talented chefs. I wanted to highlight chefs who, in my opinion, have made a mark on the food and dining scene in Hong Kong in 2013. By this I mean the chefs didn't necessarily have to be the best – though there is no doubting that Richard Ekkebus and Vincent Thierry are the best – but people who made a difference too. Peggy Chan and Vinny Lauria are ahead of the game in championing the cause of good, organic, sustainable food. Gregoire Michaud is the best pastry chef in Hong Kong and is always the first to jump on my crazy charity dinner events. Neil Tomes and Anthony Fletcher have stood up for great British food, again with great ingredients. Harlan [Goldstein] – he is a legend in his own right, always keen to do something for a good cause. Esther [Sham] has done amazing things with Ta Pantry, and our two other French characters, Jeremy Biasol and Patrick Goubier, have gone about their work quietly, but have incredible skill and history in the food business. Me? I just wanted to hang with other cool chefs and look good…
You worked closely with designer Alex Tang for the cookbook's design and logo. What was so special about collaborating with Alex?
I was lucky to work again with Roger de Leon from Starving Artist for the calendar layout. He did Cow Pig Chicken for me and brought his design talent to it once again. Alex Tang, my designer at Empire, and also the owner of his own design firm, Baking Powder Lab, worked to create a brand for Icons. He – with his team – did an amazing job with the logo, packaging, marketing collateral and website.
What are some of your favourite recipes featured in the cookbook?
The beauty of working with a range of chefs is that the recipes are all different. We have Michelin-starred and super-fine dining, down to the simplicity of pasta. I had the unenviable task of taking the recipes and formatting them in a way that fitted with the book as a whole, so I know them backwards. They are all amazing. Another bonus was the skillful wine matching of Hong Kong's best sommelier, Sebastien Chevalier. Previously of Amber, he now heads the wine selection for the company that was headline sponsor for the project, Sarment. The wine and food matching was spot on!
How was working with Josephine Rozman?
I have been very lucky to work with some outstanding photographers in Hong Kong. Mindy Wong managed to capture my other book, Cow Pig Chicken, beautifully, and Phey Palma has done some great food and venue photography at Shore. For this project, a very strong fashion look was needed too. Joesphine is probably the most talented all-round lifestyle and food photographer in Hong Kong. She works like a demon! Never stops, delivers on time and is a dream to work with. We pulled off a feat actually – 12 chefs, 12 restaurants – all in nine days of shooting. If you have ever tried to co-ordinate 12 chefs, both dressing them and then going to their venues to shoot them, you will know it is a major challenge!
What's in store for you in the future? Perhaps another cookbook calendar for 2015? The beauty of a calendar is that it is something that repeats annually. I am working with some of the press to form a selection panel to select next year's Icons. I also plan to roll it out to other major cities! I am lucky to have my editor, Ale Wilkinson, on full time at my little publishing company, Empire, and we have some great things lined up. For my sins, I am also specialising in some F and B marketing, PR and Social Media Management, but Ale will be handling all of this so I can go off and relax in a small ball in the corner! We will be doing some great charity dinner events too and Eat Your Words 2 in the form of The Great Big Turkey Feast is not far off!
The Sarment Icons 2014 Cookbook and Fashion Calendar goes on sale on 19th September, available online at www.iconshk.com with free delivery, and also at City Super, Page One, Bookazine, Pantry Magic and Dymocks IFC at $328. A portion of the proceeds go to Hong Kong charity Foodlink. For more details see www.iconshk.com.