Like many of you, I fell in love with Peter’s photography long before I became a fan of his recipes. I know, usually we check the recipes, look at the photos and then leave a comment but with Peter’s blog, for me anyway, the photos tell a story of their own.
Souvlaki for the Soul was born in 2007 and as he explains on his blog, Peter didn’t start blogging to release his inner foodie but because he was bored. How honest is that? He was bored and saw blogging and the entire blogging community as a way to expand his world, grow his knowledge of food and tweak his interest in technology.
I’ve followed Peter’s blog for years but last year at the Eat Drink Blog 2012 in Adelaide, we finally met in person. Peter gave a food photography presentation that was one of the best I have ever attended. Within 30 seconds it was clear how much preparation had gone into that day. I was mesmerised. I couldn’t wait to get back and start shooting photos.
Peter’s photography is often described as moody and full of feeling, so I asked how he developed his signature style.
“Regarding my “signature style”…I always say that it sort of developed by “accident”. Initially all the food photography focused on “light and bright” type of images (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Then one day I decided to shoot on darker backgrounds and instantly fell in love! The mood and shadows had me intrigued and I strived further to improve on that. Now I try to mix a lot of it up but still try to convey some sort of “moody feeling” in the shots I take. “
It just proves what so many excellent photographers tell me. “Just take photos and keep on taking photos and you’ll find your style.” Peter certainly proves that advice to be true. He’s always loved photography starting with old film cameras and a high school photography class.
“Photography principles NEVER go out of fashion,” he said
The food we see on Souvlaki for the Soul has its seeds in his parents’ kitchen where both his mum and dad cooked. His father was a professional cook and Peter says there was plenty of olive oil in their kitchen.
Living in Sydney, Peter gets invited to a lot of events. I asked him which ones stand out as exceptional.
“The first was meeting Tetsuya and watching him cook simple dishes in his kitchen! there were a few of us there and we were all in awe. He is so humble and quiet.
My second highlight was eating at the Chef’s table at the old Becasse restaurant in Sydney. Justin North whipped up this amazing 11 course extravaganza that was almost like a story being told. I still remember it especially as we were seated virtually right in the kitchen. When we finished up that night I said to him, ‘you sir, are like the Willy Wonka of the food world!'”
I think all food bloggers have a food celebrity or blogger we use as a mentor or guide. Peter admires Jamie Oliver for his focus on simplicity and flavour in the dishes he prepares. While there is some criticism on Jamie’s 15 and 30 minute meal timings, Peter says, “Look beyond that and if he can inspire you to get off your bum and into the kitchen, that’s a good thing!” I couldn’t agree more. Now if we see, “Put the oven on full whack,” on Souvlaki for the Soul anytime soon, we’ll know where it came from.
When we look at Peter’s posts, I can’t be the only one to wonder how long it takes him to prep, cook, style, shoot and write a post. Here’s how it works in the Georgakopoulis household and I’m not one bit surprised. Quality doesn’t happen in an instant.
“It takes approx 3 days from start to finish. People don’t believe me sometimes however when you break it down it goes like this. Research recipes. tweak ingredients and test. Sometimes you cook things a few times to make sure they work and this especially applies to cakes etc.. Then you have to plan the shoot and what kind of feeling you want to convey. I set up the props (which to this day still takes me ages) and set up the food. I shoot it from a number of angles, often going by “feeling”.
If I don’t like something I will do it again and again because I’m a perfectionist at heart. Once the photos are done they are edited and then uploaded on to the blog. Then comes the hard part! Writing can sometimes take me the best part of a whole day. It’s not that easy for me! By the time you hit “publish” you realise what a well rewarded effort it has been!”
Knowing that he learned to cook from his parents, I expect that most recipes will have a Greek influence but Peter’s inspiration comes from lots of places. He reads a LOT of food blogs and they do influence his cooking, he visits restaurants and food markets and wonders if he can do that at home. He also loves to take Greek dishes he grew up with and see how he can change them without reinventing the wheel.
Peter loves to cook for family and friends. He says he doesn’t do it for the praise but for the sheer joy of seeing people he cares about enjoy food. He’s been planning dinner parties since the mid 80s and it doesn’t look like he’s going to stop anytime soon.
We’re not the only ones who have been following Souvlaki for the Soul. Peter’s been featured on Food, the SBS television website. He’s been named one of the world’s 50 Best Food Blogs by the UK times.
I asked Peter if he would share one of his favourite recipes with us and it’s his Heirloom Tomatoes and Halloumi Stacks.
- heirloom tomatoes, cut into thick slices
- haloumi cheese, cut into strips
- chopped mint
- extra virgin olive oil
- cracked pepper
- Pan fry the haloumi cheese in a hot pan for a few minutes on each side, until softened. Set aside.
- Start by layering a tomato slice, then add a slice of haloumi and alternate until you end up with a stack.
- Top with freshly chopped mint, a drizzle of olive oil and some cracked pepper.
Peter Georgakopoulos is a food photographer / food writer I truly admire. If I were closer I’d sit on his doorstep so I could peek through the window and watch him work. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram like I do. You won’t regret it. Not only is he incredibly talented, he’s also extremely friendly. If you have questions, he’s more than happy to give advice.