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.