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September 13, 2013

Food Photography for the Ages

By Jay Cheshes | Food

Food Photography for the Ages
Courtesy of Juergen Teller

“I think I may have overdosed on the hotel,” joked Juergen Teller at a recent banquet in New York announcing the release of the lavish new cookbook Eating at Hotel Il Pellicano (Violette Editions; $60). The photographer, best known for his portrait and fashion work, indeed spent a lot of time at the fabled Tuscan retreat (one of the world’s most glorious seaside resorts), turning his lens to a new subject: food.

Over the course of three years, Teller returned repeatedly to the property to shoot and reshoot dish after dish, transforming chef Antonio Guida’s modern, seasonal fare (which has earned him two Michelin stars) into stunning food porn. The chef’s work—with its bright primary colors, iridescent sauces and frequently scattered flowers—lends itself well to the photographer’s raw sensibility, translating seamlessly to the book’s oversized glossy pages.

More art book for ogling than practical volume for cooking, Eating at Hotel Il Pellicano also features wonderfully purple prose by British novelist Will Self. “At Il Pellicano,” he writes in his introduction, “the past and the present are adjacent plots in a garden of gentle topiary and sweet smelling lemon trees.”

The recipes are divided into thematic menus, each dedicated to a loyal and prominent guest. The Missoni menu, for fashion heiress Margherita, features saffron risotto topped with tuna tartare and suckling pig paired with Campari-soaked beets. Mike Mills of the band R.E.M., who vacations at Il Pellicano with his friend Mario Batali, has his own entry, too, featuring squab breast with foie gras and polenta and a Strawberry Fields Forever dessert of berries, tomatoes and yogurt ice cream. Available for pre-order at amazon.com; violetteeditions.com.