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Meet the Instagramer: @sliceofpai on food photography and culinary heroes

We're following Joann Pai, a Paris-based food photographer with a passion for global cuisines.

By National Geographic Traveller Food
Published 5 Nov 2018, 18:00 GMT, Updated 15 Jul 2021, 14:12 BST
Photograph by @sliceofpai

How did you end up in Paris?

Growing up in North America, I'd always dreamed about living in Europe. I was fascinated with the history, architecture and the many different cultures. The few times I travelled there, I found myself wanting to spend more time in Paris — it's such a beautiful city and has a strong culinary history.

How did you get into food photography?

In 2010, I took my first SLR camera on a long trip to Paris, and I found myself mostly capturing the culinary scene — from markets to cafes to the food I'd cook in my tiny rented apartment. That ignited my passion, and I continued after returning to Vancouver. Then one day, a local business owner asked me to photograph her products. After this — my first photography job — I knew I didn't want to do anything else.

What's the aim of @sliceofpai?

I love to tell stories about different food cultures around the world, and I hope it helps to bring people together.

Who's your culinary hero?

Anthony Bourdain. He encouraged us all to be better travellers, to be open-minded and learn about different cultures through food.

What food did you grow up with?

I was born in Taiwan, but aged nine I moved to New Jersey, where we ate mostly Italian-American food. However, when we moved to Vancouver in my teens, I rediscovered Asian cuisine. My mom is a foodie at heart — I remember her taking us on road trips just to eat. She encouraged us to try different cuisines.

What do you cook at home?

My cooking at home reflects my love for different cuisines. My husband teases me, as I'll say things like: "We have chicken at home, do you feel like green Thai curry, chicken tagine with couscous or poulet à la moutarde?"

Four to follow: Joann's favourite Instagramers

1. @andreagentl
My biggest photography inspiration, New York-based Andrea Gentl has an eye for light, colours and textures.

2. @linda_lomelino
An incredibly talented Swedish photographer and cookbook author. Her gorgeous photos inspired me to start baking.

3. @_foodstories_
This Berlin-based food stylist and photographer team create dreamy, moody scenes I wish I could teleport to.

4. @annstreetstudio
Photographer Jamie Beck, based in Provence, creates still-life photos reminiscent of Renaissance paintings.

Follow Joann on Instagram 

As featured in Issue 3 of National Geographic Traveller Food

Read More

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