Granola Manola

As a result of health concerns last year, I have been cooking more at home.  I had a difficult time finding granola that didn't have either salt or refined sugar.  So I decided to make my own. Below is my home made granola that I now call Manola!  I try to find the absolute best ingredients like sprouted almonds and sprouted oats.  Yes it has some sugar in the form of ginger and honey and maple, but I control the amount I put in.  If you are a client of Manny Rodriguez Photography (hint, hint ;-) then you got a taste of it in your gift box!  Shot available light.  Sunlight diffused with velum paper. 

WHAT'S IN IT AND HOW TO MAKE IT:   3/4 c. Grapeseed Oil,   3/4c. Honey,   1/2 c. Maple Syrup, 2 tbsVanilla Extract 

6 c. Sprouted Gluten Free Thick Rolled Oats ,   1 c. Sprouted Almonds ,   1 c. Sprouted Pecan pieces ,   1 c. Sprouted Walnuts,   1 c. Sprouted Cashews,   3/4 c. Pumpkin Seeds ,   3/4 c. Sunflower Seeds,   3/4 c. Sesame Seeds ,   3/4 c. Flax Seeds

1/2 c.  Raisins,   3/4 c. Goji berries,   1/4 c. Chopped/small pcs of crystallized ginger. 

PROCEDURE:   Preheat oven to 275F. In a small saucepan I combine oil, honey, and salt. Warm over low heat until the mixture is thin and runny. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Meanwhile, combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Make a well in the center of the mix, pour in the warm oil-honey mixture, and stir until evenly moistened. Spread the mix evenly onto 2 full sheetpans, and bake on the center racks of the oven. Stir the granola with a spatula about every 15 minutes. Rotating the pans helps insure even browning of the granola. As the granola begins to color, add the maple syrup and stir well to combine. Return the granola to the oven. Overall baking time is between 45 minutes to an hour. When the mix is evenly golden brown, shut off the oven and open the door for 10 minutes to let it cool slightly. At this point I add the raisins, goji, and ginger, sprinkled evenly on top. Then close the oven and let the granola cool inside overnight. This gently dries the granola, giving it a good crunch. In the morning, using the spatula, break the granola into small pieces and transfer to a covered container. Properly covered, the granola will last about 2 weeks. `

VARIATIONS:   This recipe is flexible; if you are short on a particular nut or grain, make up the difference with the others.  Use organic nuts if you can’t find sprouted.  Increasing the amount of the honey and/or the maple syrup will yield a more tightly bound granola.




Pizza Hut/Target

Next time you walk into a Target store and look over at their food court you might see the images below, think of Phillip Groves (prop stylist), Paige Fletcher (food stylist), Rey Hernandez, (asistente exelente).  This "A Team" always make me look great!  And our fearless client "Team Rogue" seemed to be pleased as well.  Maybe it was the breakfast tacos and Cuban coffee, or maybe the Afro-Cuban beats, or perhaps the BBQ lunch from a local fav. Or the fact that we finished it all by 4:00 PM, nevertheless, the client was thrilled!

Lighting was "al natural", all emanating from the window at our amazing daylight studio. No extra lights, no mirrors, nothing but subtractive lighting and finding the right angles.

Manny does Gin.

Leslie Brenner sends me out again into the streets of Dallas to shoot gin based drinks.  The Dish Preston Hollow, XXVII Antique in Deep Ellum, and downtown Dallas at The Mitchell.  Read Leslie's article here.    All shot with available light.   Assistente Excellent, Sheryl Lanzel.

Cuban shoots Greek in Texas.

Every year, Central Market's Passport event features a different countries cuisine and culture.  This year they chose Greece and this Cuban got to shoot it, right here in Texas!  I prayed to the Greek god Helios to send me greek sunlight to Texas.  Praise to Helios he delivered!  Proof in the images below.  Goddess of food styling, Paige Fletcher, who gave birth to the goddess of prop styling, Kristen Dale Butler.  Greek God of all things creative and design, Garret Owen.

Good article on food porn.


‘What is porny? What turns your palate on?’”

“Those pictures and those websites draw us in,” Magee said, “because they do hit something really primal in us.”....."

Here is another one from last year.  BanhShop.  "Vietnamese street food" is what the art director requested.  And we had to pretend that we were there while still here in Dallas.  Mixing some street South East Asian with a touch of French Colonial, Kristen Butler did a fantastic job propping.  And with the fabulous Kat Hughes styling the food, you can't lose!  (team picture below)

We shot with available light right outside of the restaurant so that we could at least feel the street.  I hope you can feel it too.   Visit their very cool website here to see more pics.

Texas Cuisine. Five Chefs

Last year I had the amazing opportunity to shoot five of the great Texas Chefs!  Thanks to Leslie Brenner from Dallas Morning News.  Read more here.  In order below, Dean Fearing at Fearing's;  Stephan Pyles at Stampede66;  Jeff Harris at AF+B;  Michael Sindoni at CBD Provisions, and last but not least, Tim Byers at Smoke.  These guys were true pros and all so gracious.  

Pizza Hut

These are all over the place!  At the old studio, new studio, at their test kitchens.  Both with available light and simulated window light, and some times with a little simulated sunlight. Food stylists have been Kat Hughes, Paige Fletcher, Stephanie Greenwood, Liz Duffy.  Prop styling by Mike Thompson, Kristen Butler, and Jay Evers.

Village Kitchen With Andre Natera

El Gran Chef André Natera!  Gone to Austin, Texas.  :-(   For this shoot back from when he was here at Village Kitchen, also gone. This one we had to create our own window light with a strobe behind a large 6' x 6' scrim to the right side and slightly behind the dish.  

Oak Restaurant, Dallas

Another shoot from 2013, August.  Assignment for Leslie B, from DMN-FD Luxe.  Read article here.  I believe they have changed chef, but back then it was the incomparable Richard Gras!  Hard working, creative, and joyous man!  Also shot using available light, both for the shots in the kitchen and the shots in the dinning area.


Shot for FD Luxe at Gemma restaurant, a local favorite.  Used the available window light at the front of the restaurant. Shot it two ways, I prefer the top one.  Check out Leslie B's article here.

Tillman's Roadhouse

It's been a busy 4 months here in Dallas, Texas, shooting jobs AND moving from old to new studio!  Here is a job I shot for one of our local favorites back in May, Tillman's Roadhouse. Some new tasty dishes for their 2014 menu.  Shot in a 7 hour day, with available window light, at the restaurant.  Using black cards to substract light and increase contrast.  I kept moving the table to adjust for best light on each dish.



Dinner Party For Modern Luxury

Modern Luxury Magazine invited me to shoot and enjoy this fine evening of food, friends, and the best Rosé I've ever drank!  At the Burn's residence in Dallas, Texas.  Read more about the Rosé here.  Shot with available light.


Parsnip for New Year!

Happy New Year to all!  Wishing all my visitors good health, peace, love, prosperity, and good fortune in 2014.

I begin this year with a couple of pictures of the parsnip.  Why a parsnip, you might ask?  Because one of my fav art directors, Jamie Laubhan-Oliver, called me with a last minute request needing a shot of it.  And in my humble opinion, It’s a pretty shot, and because I haven't posted anything since October!  And because somewhere in the universe, this handsome vegetable is a symbol of fertility, or good fortune.  Perfect foto for the new year!

Finding it in December was not easy though.  No luck at at the local grocery stores.  Adorable and perky Kelley, better known as Jennie Kelley, of MasterChef fame, knew exactly where to find it, but I can’t tell you where, I am sworn to secrecy.

Parsnip actually makes a great zuppa.  And Jennie actually used it that same weekend for her underground restaurant. I’ll have to photograph the recipe soon…

I present to you, The Pastinaca Sativa!  Root vegetable of fertility gods, somewhere.

Feliz y prospero año nuevo!


Central Market. Keeping It Real.

Real food. Real meals. Fotographed for Central Market, with art director Garrett Owen from RBMM, Dallas. I am very fortunate to had been chosen to work on these images with Garrett, spurring us to “make it dirty”! Food styling by Stephanie Jo Greenwood and Robyn Valarik. Prop styling by Kristen D. Butler. Food stylist assistants, Yvonne Clarke, Jennie Kelly, and Tony Montanez. Asistente de Fotografo. Benjamin Gibson.

Shot with DSLR directly above dish, on simple white background. Lighting source was one soft-light box high above, with a fill card here and there.

Casa Rubia

Baudoin y Flores! (wouldn’t that be a good name for a bottle of a vino tinto español?) are the dinamic duo, manager and chef respectively, of the deliciously successful Driftwood restaurant in Oak Cliff, Texas.  This fall they will be opening a second restaurant in Oak Cliff by the name Casa Rubia, focusing on “modern tapas” a la Omar Flores.

I’ll be hoping for a Paella Valenciana, can Flores deliver?   ;-)

When I arrived at the restaurant for our photo session, John Baudoin was seated at a table with the wine rep, tasting Spanish wines for Casa Rubia. A tough job but someone has to do it.  There was beautiful energy and light to photograph John Baudoin right there where he was sitting.

The restaurant (Driftwood) where Flores was cooking the dishes for the shoot has windows all around so finding a table to use the available light was not difficult. The fotos below were lit with window light from the left side of the camera, rotating the table and dish so as to have the strength of the light coming from behind the dish.  I almost always rotate the plate to find the best highlights and shadows on the food.  If you do this the food will tell you how to shoot it. And as usual, no extra cards or reflectors were used.

The fotos of Flores in the kitchen, were a bit more challenging.  It’s a tight kitchen and the guys are prepping food, so adding a light-stand, a power pack, cords, and camera tripod, was out of the question.  I shot Omar with the available kitchen lights, with a high ISO (2400), hand held DSLR. I think it works.

Read more about Casa Rubia and Driftwood here and here.