On blow torches, glycerin, and dry ice  

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Last night I attempted a Cuban grilled chicken recipe for the second time. For the second time, it looked nothing like the (rather beautiful) photograph in the magazine. I’m no stranger to the grill, and I can be a pretty good take-off artist when I want to. But this bird was eluding me, again.

As I stood over the great-smelling but average-looking chicken, sizzling on it’s cast iron comal over hardwood lump charcoal, I picked up the blow torch I use to start the Big Green Egg (no, don’t try that at home) and started browning and crisping the legs and thighs. Suddenly, it looked almost exactly like the bird in the magazine. Now, I’m not saying that they cheated for the picture – but I wouldn’t be particularly surprised. Blow torches, glycerin, dry ice, and other tricks are often used to make the subject just a little bit more photogenic (at least for food photography — I’m sure the fashion photographers use different tricks). And while it can be standard practice, it sure is frustrating if you are trying to replicate the look as much as the taste.

So, here’s a promise: On The Moveable Chef, we won’t use any non-food products in our pictures. If we use a blow torch it will be part of the recipe (because, sometimes it really is the best tool for the job).

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