The SOMM Journal

February / March 2016

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Page 105 of 132

DURING THE VERY FIRST SOMMCON IN SAN DIEGO last November, shuffling among the various players of the wine industry through the halls from one seminar to the next, I noticed an eccentric man in thick, black-rimmed glasses using his tattooed limbs to set up a makeshift photography studio. By the time I came out of that second seminar, there was a line at least 50 somms deep. This photographer by the name of Josue Castro was suddenly one of the most popular events at SommCon. Castro was there with Frans van der Lee, co-founder and President of both Chef's Roll and Somm's List, brilliantly designed social networks for, obviously, chefs and somms. I asked Frans how he found Josue. "I met Josue after seeing his stunning portraits show up in the Facebook feeds of culinary friends. From the moment I saw his unique and provoking images, I knew that I had to work with him. He is a master at drawing out the personality of his subject. The online professional networks for the culinary and wine industry that I co-founded are all about promoting and marketing our members—there is nothing better to make you stand out from the crowd than a well-done portrait that expresses your passion and talent. This is what Josue captures." Josue Castro, originally from Mexico City, has a Master's in fine arts and a graphic design background, but as he puts it, "After 25 years as a painter and documenting my work via photography, I decided to dedicate myself exclusively to photography— I generally prefer anthropological themes. Currently, I've worked three years on 'Pure Hedonism,' a project that includes chefs, winemakers, beer makers, sommeliers and pastry chefs." In fact, you can see part of the "Pure Hedonism" project at the Bruma winery in Mexico's Valle de Guadalupe right now, and Josue plans on publishing a book based on this project by the end of 2016. If "Pure Hedonism" as a title sounds a little risqué, well, it is, and this is part of the reason why so many are drawn to these photos. They exude a rich, elegant black-and-white aesthetic, and rarely will you see a chef or somm smile. I asked Josue about his approach. "We as humans normally don't smile all the time. By not smiling, people reveal their true inner self. I also believe that we all have a dark side." Whether it's our darker side or not, whatever he's capturing seems to be the truth. Featured subjects include, but are not limited to, in no particular order: Chef Benito Molina & Chef Solange Muris; Chris Blanchard; DLynn Proctor, MS; Jesse Rodriguez; David Flaherty; Denise Mueller; Diara Dankert; Logan Webster; Luis Garcia; author Jessie Birschbach; and Ricardo Zarate Jr. { }  105

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