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Buried & Shot in Bowral | Shoot The Chef

noun: animals and plant life of a particular region.

It hasn’t been easy for photographer, Steve Evans, to catch a moment with his neighbour, this year. Living next door to acclaimed Bowral restaurant, Biota Dining, Evans had been a friend of head chef and founder, James Viles, for some time. He wanted to photograph him for Fairfax’s Good Food Month competition, Shoot The Chef, last year but what with Viles busy claiming two hats in The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Good Food Guide 2014, a sustainability award and a gong for best regional wine list, as well as visiting the MAD Symposium in Copenhagen, Denmark, it was impossible to pin him down.

“This year I said, ‘We’ve got to do it,’” recalls Evans. “So we had some ideas about going into the bush, or into the garden; we wanted to do something really radical.”

The connection between Viles (who was raised in Scone, NSW) and the earth, was a theme that persisted. The 33-year old is one of the youngest chefs to gain the kind of recognition that he has with Biota and his menu is highly produce-driven. His operation is a very hands-on and collaborative affair; even his mum is actively involved in helping him grow the edible delights in the kitchen garden that end up on his customers’ plates.

“A day or so before the end of the comp I said to James, ‘Come on’ and we went out into the garden. We were playing around with a few ideas and, finally, we dug a hole and buried him in it. The light was just fading and in the end I got a few shots with the camera held above my head shooting down.”

The photograph, called “Blood & Bones” was submitted via Instagram using the hashtag #shootthechef. Evans said that he sent it to Viles and received an email peppered with enthused expletives confirming that he approved.

Evans, who photographs rodeos around the country and runs his own café in Mittagong, called Brewsters, is used to taking photos that are “high speed, full action” shots.  The image he submitted to the Shoot the Chef competition was very different from his usual style but he says it demanded the same quick-thinking as his other work to beat the sunset and get the shot. This was the first year that the popular competition was opened to national submissions and Evans’ photograph was selected as one of 24 finalists.

“Usually you shoot then bury,” Evans laughs, “but you might say I buried and then shot!”

Biota Dining supports a local farmers market and has a good relationship with local artists. It is the home of Creative Table, a monthly networking event for artists in the Southern Highlands.

All the Shoot The Chef finalists can be viewed here. From Tuesday, October 2, an exhibition of the winners and finalists’ prints will be hosted at The Star, Sydney. The prints will later head to Melbourne where they will be exhibited at Rialto, Collins Street, from November 1-29.