These days, Instagram is as ubiquitous in a restaurant as a butter knife — a space in the cloud where chefs and diners have formed a thriving symbiotic ecosystem to interact over the treasures of the table.
One culinary whizz has mastered this game — Mirko Febbrile is the chef de cuisine of one-Michelin-starred Braci and hails from Puglia, Italy. The 29-year-old has harnessed the power of smartphone photography, posting beautiful food pictures and mini snapshots of his life.
Beyond aesthetics, it’s also about connecting with an audience. While COVID-19 has pushed Singapore’s restaurant industry into a precarious edge, chef Mirko has refused to let it defeat his spirits, instead, viewing the extra time as a gift. These days, he interacts with his followers by posting easy recipes from his home kitchen.
Here, he teams up with Huawei on an instructional, shooting the entire video with the Huawei P40. Watch as he works his talents and turns daily kitchen scraps into a delicious dish: bread meatballs with bacon and leek.
LSA: You’ve been cooking a lot during this circuit breaker. Why and how does it help you get through this period?
Mirko Febbrile: I’ve been cooking for the past 16 years of my life — as chefs, we’re constantly rushing and running against time. We are obsessively tied to our work and I’ve rarely managed to enjoy Christmas or holidays with my loved ones.
We are living through very difficult times but I feel like when life deprives us of something, it will always reward us with something else — I finally have time now. I can call my family or friends and really listen to them, watch my favourite series, and finally read the books that I didn’t had time for, or sleep few more hours.
That said, I’m so used to standing on my feet 10 to 13 hours per day. It’s part of my system so I need to keep myself occupied. I miss cooking, so I re-discovered the pleasure of preparing those simple things like bechamel sauce, bread, focaccia or apple pie in the comfort of my house.
Food means many different things to many people. What does it mean to you?
To me, food is what we truly are. It is our history, our joy, our pain — an expression of ourselves. I always try to communicate my vision with every dish that we create in the restaurant, but I always ask my guys what they think and then I enrich it with their experiences too. Food is conviviality, it is union, it is exchange, it’s the power of bringing together the diversity of the world to savour its true taste.
You’ve created an incredibly tasty dish out pretty much out of scraps. Why is this important to you?
It really reminds me of where I come from. In Italy, food culture runs in our veins, food is closely related to all our values but most importantly, it’s a way for us to appreciate mother nature and the hard work of the people. In the modern approach, besides cherishing my education, we need to acknowledge that as chefs, we have the power to make a difference every day.
We have the gift to transform any simple ingredient or scraps into something complex, yet meaningful and fun. I’m grateful for this life because it’s more than just cooking. It makes me think!
You’re quite active on social media — tell us how it has impacted the way you work as a chef now, and from before you were on Instagram.
I can definitely split eras before and after Instagram. It plays a big role in the experience of a restaurant and we made a few adjustments to embrace this.
Phone cameras are as essential as having cutlery on the table these days. The thing, it’s not just your followers paying attention at your food porn — it is the new word of mouth for the dining crowd. Yes, there’s direct interaction with guests, magazines and photographers but I personally find it powerful because helps to develop relationships among our community.
It honestly has a big impact. When I read a review – good or bad, I can analyse if we did a great job and take action instantly. There’s always room for improvement.
It also affects me when someone takes a bad photo of my food, we spent hours or even days to make it taste and look like that!
You take beautiful photos for Instagram. Do you have any easy tips?
It’s always about the right light. This is what anyone needs to find first. I don’t like to change the way my food looks in terms of colour or texture and so I don’t use lots of filters or spend a long time on the editing. I want it to look as polished and as natural as possible.
Still, I’ll focus my attention on the sharpness, definition and contrast of the picture. I love my food to be the subject of my picture so I enjoy taking close-ups to highlight the details of the presentation and avoiding any other distractions around.
The entire video was filmed with Huawei P40 and you took some clips on your own too. Which feature do you enjoy using the most?
I do love the fact that first of all, I can look at an excellent high-resolution screen, a powerful battery and a very fast recharge rate. Of course, my favourite part is a camera with great video quality, excellent stabilisation and also sharp details, amazing ultra focus and superb colour saturation. My photos are outstanding in both day and night.
For more information about the Huawei P40 Series, visit their website here.