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Matinee: 'Eric Wolfinger -- Beyond the Plate' Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

22 April 2017

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 184th in our series of Saturday matinees today: Eric Wolfinger -- Beyond the Plate.

Eric Wolfinger is a food photographer. But he was also a baker. And not just any baker, but a bread baker at the famed Tartine bakery in the Mission district of San Francisco.

When Tartine's Chad Robertson wanted to do a cookbook of the bakery's breads, he decided Wolfinger would be the best person to shoot it. Why? Because even though a lot of people might produce lovely photos, Wolfinger knew how to actually bake the bread.

And that's how Wolfinger, a full-time baker and an amateur photographer at the time, shot the Tartine Bread book.

That experience opened a new door for Wolfinger. The life of a professional photographer.

It had a particularly enticing benefit for a guy who wanted to travel the world. Photography turned out to be his travel ticket. And shooting the works of other bakers and chefs became his meal ticket.

He knows what they are going through. He appreciates their achievement. They get to work with someone knowledgeable about the business. And his career took off. To wherever he wanted to go.

This video is just over 20 minutes but you'll be licking your lips from the start as Wolfinger roasts and grinds some beans to make chocolate at home. It's how he came up with his shot list for a chocolatier.

Next stop? Tanzania. Home of those cacao beans.

He arranges and then shoots the surprising variety of pods, discussing the shot with the bean supplier. Then he goes into the fermentation room, grabs a bean from every stage of fermentation and sets up another shot.

His interest in the bean leads to an appreciation of the people who produce it and the effort they put into it. His appreciation of their craft is a reflection of the years it took him to learn how to bake bread.

In the end, his focus on the people behind the product gives him a perspective on what's really important in life, he says. You'll want to watch to the end to see precisely what he means.

Get a box of tissues first, though. You'll need them. And maybe a little chocolate, too.


Maybe the most interesting/inspiring pieces I've seen on your "plate" yet. Thank you.

-- Michael Melneck

Thank you for the thoughtful writeup and featuring the film on your matinee!

-- Eric Woflinger

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