Three women with an exquisite eye for food.
Food Consultant: Muneera Al Mannai
So you want to invest in a restaurant business but you don’t know where to start. Don’t fret! That’s where Muneera Al Mannai, founder of FoodTalk Consulting, comes in. With her know-how, connections and experience, Al Mannai can plan everything for you from A to Z.
“I’ve loved cooking ever since I was young,” said Al Mannai. “Growing up, I was always with my grandmother in the kitchen.” However, since it was rare to pursue a career in the culinary arts at the time, she didn’t have the motivation or support to follow her passion.
After majoring in Business, Al Mannai worked at her family’s events company as an event manager. “I noticed I was more interested in the buffet area, buffet table, food and menus. That’s when I decided to study the culinary arts.”
She started training at the Gulf Hotel kitchens peeling, chopping and doing the usual grunt work. She then went to Switzerland to study Culinary Management and International Cuisine. “That was the program that opened the door to consultancy,” said Al Mannai. “They taught us about cost control, how to run the kitchen, how to do the layout and setup, purchasing and everything else in between.” Her education lasted a year followed by a 6-month internship at a prestigious restaurant in a 5-star hotel in Zurich.
Upon returning to Bahrain, Al Mannai’s consultancy work began right away and she gained momentum and recognition in the food sector, providing a range of services that currently include recipe and menu management, culinary training, business development, computerized documentation and recipe management.
Food Photographer and Stylist: Tuba Saricimen
How did you get into this field?
These came hand in hand for me. I always wanted to publish my mother’s recipes and I felt I could do something special with her cookbook. Besides, who best to present my mother’s food than someone that has an intimate passion for it? I started a food blog knowing that it would give me a bit of experience writing and documenting recipes, and, of course, photographing and styling.
Did you study photography and styling?
I attended a few workshops and comprehensive courses, but I also read a lot and practiced at every opportunity. I never thought I had a creative bone in me until I undertook this career path.
Who have you worked with recently?
I’ve worked for quite a few restaurants in Bahrain that were refreshing their menus or were interested in social media exposure. These include Isfahani, Big Smoke Burger, Millions of Milkshakes and Bluefield Burgers.
The hardest part about food photography?
The hardest part is understanding what a new client is looking for. I usually like to go to the venue to understand my restrictions and what props and items I need to bring along. Lighting is always a challenge.
What advice would you give someone new to the business?
Attend workshops, take courses and read as much as you can. Network because that’s your best tool for marketing. Most importantly, practice as much as you can. Practice matching colors, putting props together, using light to your advantage and using a DSLR with all of its features. Practice practice practice!
Food Photographer and Stylist: Amal Omar
When and how did you get into this field?
About two years ago. At first, I would simply use my phone camera for photography and capturing special moments. Then I started getting into styling the shots and being more precise with it and I noticed how people were amazed by how beautiful my pictures were. They couldn’t believe they were taken by a phone camera. This encouraged me to expand, buy a professional camera and do more of what I love.
Have you taken any photography classes?
I had never thought of taking any classes actually. This was my hobby, so I read a lot about it and watch YouTube videos to learn from others and hone my skills.
Would you recommend anyone to take it up as full-time work?
Definitely. I hadn’t considered doing it at first, but having it as my hobby for so long encouraged me to take a chance and make it my full-time job, and I love every minute of it.
What restaurants have you worked with recently?
I’ve worked with Pink Box, Sala Bakery, Just Fresh Burger, AlSayyad AlBahry, Sufra and many others.
What is the hardest part about food and styling photography?
It would have to be coming up with unique ideas every time.
Is there any local or international photographer you like?
That would be Mohammed Al Munasif. I love his work.
Any tips for a better photo?
Two things to always watch out for: good lighting and good angles.
What advice would you give someone interested in this field?
Keep these two words in mind: Patience and confidence. Also, never listen to those who discourage you.