I was just looking back over my archived images and it looks like I have been the event photographer in Chicago for the C-CAP annual competition since about 2008. And really, this is one of my favorite events to cover.
C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Program) works with public schools throughout the country, training students in under-served communities to prepare for a career in the hospitality and restaurant industries. After a year of training, the students come together for a competition where they show off their mad skills and it’s pretty intense as the stakes are super high. Since its’ founding in 1990, C-CAP has awarded $37 million in scholarships, we are talking some major full-ride scholarships. Their alumni have gone on to some equally impressive positions as well from the Marriott to The Four Seasons in addition to being named in Forbes Food & Wine List: 30 Under 30.
Even after photographing this event over the past several years, it can still be a challenge to show the competition in a different way. This year, I was playing with angles with a wide lens and doing some shoot thrus so there is something in the foreground, slightly out-of-focus that draws attention to the center.
Also, the lighting in these kitchens where the competition is held is such a mix. There is tungsten that runs a little orange/yellow as well as fluorescent which shows up in the unprocessed images with a green cast. Add that to the daylight from the windows and some fill-flash and you have yourself a potentially hot mess. But balancing for skin tones and using a gel on the on-camera flash does help with the white balance and with a few tweaks in post, the color balance is as close as you can get to perfection.
Really looking forward to Monday morning when I will be at the Signature Room for C-CAPS’ Award Presentation Breakfast. I seriously have to try to keep it together as they hand out these scholarships because I get so excited for these kids and I may even get a little choked up. What an amazing opportunity!
Check this out when you have a chance, Richard Grausmans’ (C-CAP founder) daughter is a documentary film maker who produced and directed the film Pressure Cooker. I just watched this within the past few weeks and thought it was awesome. The film revolves around a passionate culinary teacher in Philly who scares the crap out of me and is a no b.s., high-expectations, leave the coddling behind, instructor who leads her students to shoot for the culinary scholarships offered by C-CAP. And yes, you might tear up a little. Check it out on Netflix streaming.