Casse-Cou Chocolaterie is the latest brainchild of plant-based Chef Matthew Kenney.  Matthew and his team operate over 40 different restaurants worldwide.  The vegan chocolates are now sold in a new store location on Manhattan as well as online.

I’ve worked with Matthew on several projects since 2009, including 5 cook books.  He commissioned me to create a series of images for his new chocolate brand of 12 different pralines and 5 bars. Compared to my usual projects for clients such as Nestle, Snickers or Jim Beam for example, we did not have any crew, producers or creatives on set or on the broadcast with us.  This was a solo project, where he shared a mood board and then gave me total creative freedom.  I enjoy this way of working a lot, since my other projects are usually highly structured and minutely scheduled, while taking direction from multiple people at the same time.  Client management, time management and crew collaboration often take a big chunk out of the day.  With this job, we settled on a two-day shoot.  I spent 12-14 hours a day at the studio, basically playing with setups, compositions, light, surfaces, props, ingredients and the chocolates.  It was a calm, almost meditative shoot. Being in the moment and letting my experience and ideas guide me was a wonderful way to work and I had almost forgotten about how it felt to be undisturbed and fully immersed in a creative process.

Since the pralines and bars were still under development during our shoot, we only had a very limited number available for each flavor.  It was challenging to know that cutting, immersing, powdering or tempering the chocolate was a very much final proposition.  Messing up would have meant the end of the shoot for that particular type of praline.  Adding the fact that we did not have a prop or food stylist on set to rely on, I had to think things through before committing to alter any of the chocolate pieces.  The combination of needing to be focused and to work precisely while being unconstrained in regards to the creative direction helped a lot to really be in the moment, turning the shoot itself into a pleasurable experience. I also had the challenge of not being able to eat any of the chocolate during the shoot, which was probably the most difficult part.  I’m looking forward to changing that this week. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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