Behind the Scenes: Food & Fashion Cover Shoot with Emeril and Alden Lagasse

February 20, 2014

Early on a crisp, sunny President’s Day morning, when many Gulf Coasters were either enjoying a leisurely three-day holiday weekend or hadn’t yet started their day, there was a flurry of activity on the northeastern tip of Highway 30-A at Caliza Restaurant and Pool in Alys Beach. The smaller dining area that overlooks Caliza’s spectacular Mediterranean-style pool deck was being transformed into a makeshift salon, where hair and makeup stylists were setting up their stations with a treasure trove of styling products and tools.

Arranged nearby were the clothes and accessories that local power couple Emeril and Alden Lagasse would be wearing for the cover of VIE’s March/April Food and Fashion Issue. The iconic celebrity chef, cookbook author, philanthropist, and restaurateur would not be donning his familiar crisp white chef’s coat, but rather “kicking it up a notch,” as he might say, in a sports coat and dress shirt, perfect for an evening of fine dining with his lovely wife, Alden, an artist and philanthropist in her own light who has a taste for great style when it comes to interior decorating and fashion.

Just outside Caliza’s “salon,” Executive Chef Kevin Korman and the rest of the Alys Beach food and beverage team were busy prepping the gourmet breakfast buffet and bar that was reminiscent of what you might expect to see on a movie set: scrambled eggs with crab, fresh fruit, homemade apple bread, Bloody Marys and mimosas—plus plenty of java to help the energetic crew maintain its brisk pace.

Just around the corner in Caliza’s main dining area, VIE’s entourage of photographers, videographers, and designers were zipping back and forth creating the set. Against a dramatic backdrop of burnt sienna-colored walls and Moorish architectural features, the scene was laden with fresh flowers, candelabra, fine china, and exquisite fabrics, transforming a bare wood table and two wingback chairs into an Old World dining masterpiece.

At 9:00 a.m., Emeril and Alden arrived and were escorted around the various staging areas while they were introduced to the two dozen crew members who were collaborating on the morning’s shoot. For the next hour and a half, the Lagasses underwent hair and makeup and freely chatted with each other and the various crew members who dropped by, sharing personal tidbits about their children, interests, and histories.

Meanwhile, a stone’s throw away, the set was undergoing its own finishing touches, spearheaded by designer Cari DeGregorio. Beautiful platters brimming with assorted cheeses, artisanal breads, oysters, and exquisite fruits artfully cascaded across the table, and crystal goblets filled with red and white wines glistened. The lighting was checked, tweaked, and rechecked. Photographer Romona Robbins and videographers Ben Rosenau and Tim Dutrow also darted back and forth, continually testing and tweaking their angles, checking for shadows, and examining every aspect of the foreground, background, and ever-changing natural lighting.

Around 10:30, the cover couple arrived on set—looking amazing, of course, thanks to hairstylist Brooke Miller and makeup artist Yvette Nation. The entire team assembled and hovered nearby for the choreography to commence. As each photograph was taken, no less than four pairs of razor-sharp eyes scrutinized the most finite details. Props were shifted, heads were tilted one way and then another, curls were refreshed, shadows were corrected, Emeril and Alden were repositioned, and shooting angles were fine-tuned. No detail was overlooked.

After over an hour of shooting … “Bam!” The magic was captured in one flawless photo after another. Look for Emeril and Alden Lagasse’s cover photo and feature article to appear in VIE’s upcoming March/ April 2014 Food and Fashion issue!