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Shooting the Best Restos

Behind the scenes of the June 2013 Best Restaurants photo shoot


The perfect table set-up at Addison
Our team gets the perfect table set-up at Addison.

Photographer Dhanraj Emanuel traveled all the way from North Carolina to work with us on our annual Best Restaurants feature. We got to know and love Dhanraj's work when he lived in San Diego and worked with us on the same feature in 2011, see those great photos here. He jumped at the opportunity to work with us again (& we couldn't have been more happy) for a full week of photo shoots at more than a dozen restaurants. We paired him up with our favorite food stylist Maria Sparks and the shot the best food around town.

This year, we wanted to photograph full tables of food straight down. We wanted to give readers the idea that they were seated at the table and were ready to "dig in!". Timing was key. We’d set up the shot and lights for an hour and ask the kitchen to fire up the order at the last minute, so the food had that hot-off-the-grill look. Addison’s William Bradley (pictured above) was very hands-on, using a pair of tweezers to precisely place items on the plates. It’s no wonder the restaurant won such high honors in our annual poll. Dhanraj and Maria exceeded our expectations. (See shots of them in action in the gallery below).


Monello Chef, Fabrizio Cavallini
The cheese wheel at Monello

Dhanraj's favorite place to shoot that week? Monello, the Best New Restaurant winner in Little Italy. He loved the light coming through the floor to ceiling windows, the modern décor, and last by not least the cheese wheel. He was obsessed with the cheese wheel shavings. He even asked if he could go back and photograph it again. From the photos you can see why.

To see all the 2013 Best Restaurant winners and Dhanraj's gorgeous food photography, go here.
Bon appétit!

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San Diego Magazine's editorial staff (Erin Chambers Smith + Erin Meanley + Kimberly Cunningham + a handful of smart, thoughtful contributors)  and web designer (Sanna Coates) blog everything from restaurants and bars to behind the scenes gossip to the best events happening this weekend. Looking for foodie and restaurant guru Troy Johnson? He's got his own blog here.

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