Back of the House
by Michael Harlan Turkell
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Back of the House is a behind the scenes look at the world of fine dining by photographer Michael Harlan Turkell. As Michael says:
[This project] is a way for me to photographically assimilate into the more human side of the culinary community. This collection of photographs studies restaurants' often unrecognized subcultures; they present artistry, diligence, and precision, reveal internal issues among staff members, and display enduring camaraderie throughout the chaos.
As America becomes more aware of what it eats, it remains unaware of the people who make and serve its food...it is not what makes a meal or what puts plates in front of diners. Whether restaurant cuisine is ecologically sensitive or not, it is rooted in the familiar restaurant mode and model: chefs cook and waiters wait. The true heart of fine cuisine is not found in photographs of elaborately plated dishes, or in made-in-advance reservations for jacket-required dining rooms, or in four-star reviews. It resides in what culinaires define as mise en place: all ingredients and equipment necessary to prepare a dish, ready and waiting to be set into action. This project aims to capture all of these points mise en scene.