We are usually too busy snatching delectable culinary confections out of their grasp to pay much attention to the hands of our favourite chefs. Fingers and thumbs pale into insignificance when paired with the best food in London. However, a decade long project by the photographer and artist Katie Wilson is attempting to press pause on our greed, instead taking a closer look at the chef’s most important tool in Fifty Chefs, an exhibition at Londonnewcastle Project Space, which sees all proceeds going to the London food charity FareShare.
Complete with scars, callouses and tattoos, her close up photographs of the hands of fifty London chefs, including Nuno Mendes, Yotam Ottolenghi, Rose Gray, Ollie Dabbous, and James Lowe offer a new perspective on the chef – taking it away from notoriety and whittling it down to the roots of their craft, what they create with their hands. It is an unexpectedly emotional project. The hands emerge as vulnerable, oddly delicate; their faceless owners defined not by the force of their personalities but the details of fingernails and fists. The late Rose Gray hands over only one, Nuno Mendes points out his tattoos, Mark Hix gives them straight, while Neil Borthwick creates a butterfly effect. It is a new take on the glamour of fine dining, a glimpse inside the kitchen, beyond the pass, at the hard work that really takes place.
Fifty Chefs – The Hands that Feed London is at Londonnewcastle Project Space between April 3-16. The proceeds from the sale of prints will go to FareShare.