Yesterday was probably my hardest job yet.
It looked simple enough — Ces Lopez’s Supreme Brazo de Mercedes Bars. There were 7 layouts, 3 of the layouts had 2 bars in one picture, one layout had 3, 2 layouts had 1 and the last layout (which I stupidly placed in the end), had 12 bars in one picture. So this was how my project went:
Since I was honestly feeling jittery about the whole meringue thing, I decided to have a testing day: Saturday. It was a nice sunny morning and I was able to produce 2 trays of fantastic looking bars really quickly and they stood forever. I tried to put one in the freezer, one in room temperature for a couple of hours and the frozen one was just a little more stable. Knowing this, I already made my timeline and how many trays I was going to make for the day. I decided not to make it the night before since it seemed easy enough to do on the day itself (mind you I placed my meringue in horrible conditions and even had the knack to use a convection oven — which would usually spell nightmare all over the meringue, but everything came out perfect).
Wednesday morning, I came in at 7am with my usual sausage Mcmuffin and orange juice in hand. It was a little damp since it rained the night before, but I didn’t think it would completely bother my eggs.
I was wrong. Mixing times were longer. Changing containers made a huge difference in my outcome unlike your typical non-meringue bars. I was completely stomped and I made 4 batches as my allotment and I lost 1 since it started raining by 9 am. A tray of meringue died on me…i was left with three. My meringues were getting watery at one point. I needed more eggs. I was munching on them all day because of the way things went. I’m just glad I had a few really good ones for the shots!
I had a lot of shoulda woulda coulda in my head but of course, this was an even more pressure full day considering my photographer happens to be the great Mark Floro, who happens to have a wife who has been a food stylist for over 20 years! But just like my production designer for the day Vicky (it was her first time to do food), we were just all ears on what he would say since we were so new compared to this guy.
But Mark was fantastic, he made sure to keep his patience and was very pleasant with everyone. They even had so many kwentuhans while I was in the kitchen doing my thing! The team was great..everyone was just inputting all they could to come out with the perfect shot. There was a lot of testing going on since we didn’t exactly have sample pegs. Our challenge was to bring out what Ces had imagined, and that was a pretty tough number knowing that we didn’t have sample pegs at all.
Last photo was with all 12 variants presented. All had to be nice. Ces, the owner of her new shop wants everything to be perfect. Who could blame her, I’d want the same thing if it was my project! By the end of the day, most of my heroes couldn’t be re-used and I had to bake another batch. Even Mark gave a sigh with all 12 going in one picture (or maybe because my meringues were starting to mibehave).I was cheering in front of the blodget (yes I still used it, am I hard headed or what) saying, “go, go go go” to my meringue as I watched it cook to perfection. Glad it cooperated despite the rain.
Alas, 11pm we wrapped up. With Ces all happy with the outcome. With my stomach full of meringue and nuts. Mark had a ton of pistachios. Vicky and Den had a lot of pizza. Hahaha!
At this point, seeing that I still have a long long long way to go! I am now starting to think if i should’ve just done an angel food cake, but I was really afraid that my client would reject it if my replication was off. Anyway, I’m happy though. I feel that this is another big step for me, and I’m really glad that I have finally had the opportunity to work with one of the Philippines masters in Food Photography.