Mira Zaki, a New York City–based food, travel, and documentary photographer, had her new show "Journey to Egypt: Discovering Identity Through Food," debut on Nov. 1 at the Greenhouse Gallery at the James Beard House in New York City. I met up with her to learn more about her project, her connection with food, and more.
"The work being included in the gallery is a variety of images highlighting the Egyptian food that I grew up eating and coming back to as an adult to recreate the dishes that I was comforted by throughout my youth. The series includes classic Egyptian dishes you can choose from: falafel sandwiches, or falafel with all the fixings, grape leaves, and yogurt salad," Zaki said.
Zaki has a long history with the James Beard House. She began photographing the dinners at the James Beard House itself nearly three years ago and has since expanded to photographing their major events such as Chefs and Champagne in the Hamptons, Chelsea Sunday Supper at Chelsea Market, and their annual Dinner and Gala. "It’s been such an honor to have the opportunity to be connected with such a prestigious culinary organization that is known worldwide," said Zaki. "I’ve had an incredible time meeting and photographing the chefs I’ve watched on TV my whole life such as Mario Batali and the New York famous chefs like Marcus Samuelsson, Seamus Mullen, and Daniel Boulud."
Guests of the show can expect to see classic Egyptian dishes from the point of view of the person actually making the food, as well as some completed dishes of food ready to be eaten. Zaki, being Egyptian-American, is able to tell the story of her culture and upbringing through the dishes of her homeland.
"My style of shooting has always been about the intimate details and rich colors of a meal or experience," said Zaki, noting that guests can also enjoy some of the food photographed at the official launch party on Nov. 15.
"Food has always been a major part of my life, lifestyle, and everyday interest," explained Zaki. "It made sense to transition into a food and travel photographer once I actually began shooting professionally; it was easy, my love, passion, and curiosity for the culinary world and the rich variety of food translated directly into my work effortlessly."
The opening event will take place on Nov. 15 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Greenhouse Gallery and it is free to attend.