Learn about food photography, the history and cultures behind food, & more.

So I stumbled upon this Rastafarian religion called Ital (pronounced eye-tal). The diet that goes along with this belief system is one that is very similar to what we know as veganism. It’s a little different from the typical type of veganism we have come to know because it is based within religion, and they take it a step further by also refraining from using certain seasonings.

I decided to look into the Ital (pronounced eye-tal) movement after reading this article in The Fader. Within the article, they interview three restaurant owners who are keeping the Caribbean tradition alive in Brooklyn through their different types of restaruants. There was one part that really jumped out at me from Jahman Mckenize who is the co-owner of Veggies Natural Juice Bar in Brooklyn, reading this quote really threw me for a loop. It’s the reason why I wrote this post. In The Fader article he says


“the healthy eating and vegan lifestyle, that still is my father. What is called “vegan” eating, we called “Ital” since the ’60s. Now we see vegan becoming popular, when Ital always was part of our culture for years.”


Reading that got the wheels turning, it got the (dimly lit in my case) light bulb on.

I couldn’t stop thinking “man, has veganism BEEN a thing?!”

Like many things in the United States that are “in”, I started to wonder if veganism was born (read: stolen) from an old tradition of the Rastafarians, or if it had been created entirely on its own. This thought alone led me to look much deeper into the Ital movement.



Ok, what is Ital?

Ital gets it’s name from the word “vital” because the goal of it is to enhance your vitality.

Ital is more than a diet, it’s a way of life that is motivated by whole and healthy living and religion. Rumored to have started in the ‘60’s, Ital eating is a plant based diet that is built to keep your mind sharp. It is based on interpretation from biblical references in Genesis, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. In these passages, the point that your body is your temple and should be treated as such is consistent. According to an interview on BBC, Rastas originally lived in the hills of Jamaica and ate what naturally grew around them. Many Rastafari who practice Ital believe that processed foods affect your mind, body, & soul in negative ways.



Ital eating is based on plants and whole grains. People who practice this only eat fresh foods that are in season. Many people who follow this lifestyle don’t use salt to season their food. In some extreme cases, they don’t even eat with metal food utensils or out of metal containers because they have the ability to chemically contaminate food.

Clearly, Ital eating is fueled by keeping your body pure and not destroying it. They do not consume soda or coffee, and alcohol is strictly forbidden. Not only because of the negative effects it has on your body but because they believe that alcohol can have negative effects on the entire world.

What is most interesting to me about this lifestyle is that…. it’s a lifestyle. This isn’t a weight loss plan or something that people who take it on just try out, it’s a smaller part of living a whole and healthy all around life.

By the way…


I also found…

this video where 2 Sisters & A Meal visit a real Rastafarian and he explains more about Ital eating in detail. Check it out!



I couldn’t resist writing about this topic because of how popular veganism is now. It really piqued my interest to hear that a similar diet has existed for many years before veganism was formally created.

But, I’d like to know what you think. Is veganism simply a remixed version of Ital? Is Ital completely different? Does it not fucking matter?

Let me know in the comments below!

– Rouk







Meet Julia Choi, a talented food stylist and creator of  (Give Me) Baby One More Bite .


I was scrolling through Instagram one day, looking through different hashtags related to food as most of us do when no one is looking. I wish I could remember which one I was looking through on this day specifically, but I guess that’s not important right now…

Anyway, I was scrolling through the ‘gram when I saw a STRIKING image. I stopped and thought “wow, WHAT IS THAT” because of how it stood out amongst the other images. I clicked on the Instagram name (@babyonemorebite) and continued to scroll through the account amazed at how striking all of the images were. They were all captivating, creative, and even immersive in a way. I couldn’t get enough.

I clicked the link in her bio’ to visit her website, I had to.

After landing on the website, I noticed even more beautiful images and an overall website layout that was warm and enticing, I was hooked. I went to Julia’s about page and began to read about her, after reading her short biography, I was interested in hearing so much more. I thought she was so talented that I couldn’t help but to reach out and at least have a conversation.

I made it clear how much I loved her work, how she provided me with inspiration and asked if we could meet to talk about a possible interview. I wanted to make sure the chemistry was right before actually attempting to capture her story.

I can’t remember what month it was, but it was so fucking humid outside that I could barely take it. I walked through Union Square and arrived at the cafe that Julia and I agreed to meet at. After waiting about five minutes, Julia popped up with a very warm “Hi! Nice to meet you”.

We sat down, had some caffeine, and talked about how she ended up where she is today. She talked about how she was working in advertising years ago, but felt unfulfilled. She decided to enroll in culinary school in hopes of pursuing a new career in something that she was more passionate about and was so happy that she did. Another thing she said that I remember vividly, is that the photos up on her website weren’t even her best stuff (SAY WHAT?!).

After meeting Julia on that first day, I knew her vibes and story were both on point which are major keys for anyone that has anything to do with Beyond The Eats. I don’t care if it’s the most known person on the planet, I won’t work with anyone in any capacity who I’m not really feelin’, but that was FAR from the case with Julia. We set up a time to do the interview and went our separate ways.

Fast forward to the day of the interview, and honestly, I was wild hungover from having one (or two or three) too many bourbon drinks from the night before. I let Julia know that I was definitely on the first seat of the struggle bus, then she just laughed it off and assured me that it was no big deal. The only thing motivating me to move or do anything that day was knowing that I was going to capture Julia’s amazing story. I wanted people to hear it.

Julia quickly thought on her feet and decided to make pancakes for a shoot on the spot.

Important to note – I’ve made pancakes many times before, but Julia added a few ingredients and had some equipment that made the whole process seem like magic to me… don’t ask.

Anyway, she whipped up the pancakes wit’ the crazy wrist game and basically freestyled a food styling setup. It was kind of like watching a producer make a beat. She started off slowly, setting up her backdrop, getting all of the props she would like to use in place and things like that, but she quickly started getting into motion. Moving cloth from left to right, drizzling some chocolate here, placing some sprinkles there, I really respected the artistry of it all being put together.  

(below is a photo from the day of the shoot. You can see Julia setting up in the video)

Julia got a few good shots and was ready for me to ask her questions. I  tried to tailor the questions towards helping anyone who is new to food styling and wants some beginner tips on props, things to remember, and how to develop your eye as an artist. I think I did a good job of this, but if I didn’t, you can scream at me in the comments. 

I loved capturing this story because it was drastically different from any other story I’ve captured up to this point. Although I love to interview restaurant owners, this was the first of what will hopefully be many times that I was able to get the story of people who work with food in other ways. It was a lot of fun seeing it all come together. 

What did you think of the interview? Was it helpful? Did you gain any new perspectives? Let me know in the comments!

– Rouk


Dark and moody food photography is a specific style that has gained a lot of popularity within the past few years.

I am interested in this style because it really helps make the colors pop on some foods which allows the photo to give off much more personality/feeling. While some food photography shots are very light and focused on achieving an overall bright and warm feeling, these dark and moody shots use a darker backdrop to make the color really come out and switch the mood.

This was a highly searched topic within the realm of food photography, so I decided to provide 5 tips from people who know how to achieve the look perfectly.

Here are 5 tips that will help you get started with shooting dark and moody food photography.

Tip 1. Moody Food Photography: The How-To Guide via TylerClayMedia.com

Within this post titled Moody Food Photography: The How To Guide, Tyler goes through a quick explanation of how to shoot images that have a great dark and moody look. Tyler uses a very laid back tone and does a great job of covering the equipment that is needed to achieve the desired look. For example, I enjoyed when he mentioned what he feels is the most important piece of equipment needed to achieve the look…

 “For me I think best piece of equipment that I had was my backdrop. If you don’t have a good backdrop to offset your food then your picture won’t turn out as well as it could have.”

This is a great place to start while searching for how to get that perfect dark and moody shot.

Full postMoody Food Photography: The How to Guide

Tip 2. How To Guide: Create Dark Food Photography (With Just A Box) via TwoLovesStudio.Com

IMAGE VIA Two Loves Studio

       Image via Two Loves Studio

Rachel from Two Loves Studio created this informative how-to guide for creating dark food photography with just a box. Within her guide, she does an amazing job at showing how this shoot is set up. After reading through this, the way people achieve those great dark and moody shots made much more sense to me. 

Rachel describes the post:

“Ever wondered how food photographers create those really bold images of still life or dark food photography? The answer is so simple, you’ll be shooting away like a pro by the time you’ve read this post.” 

I like this post because Rachel is very specific about not only what you’ll need to achieve the shot, but also how you can approach it.

Full postHow to Guide: Create Dark Food Photography (With Just a Box)

Follow TwoLovesStudio on: TwitterInstagram, or Pinterest 


Tip 3. An overall look at Dark and Moody via Celebrate-creativity

Lisa from Celebrate-creativity published this article that covers the trend of dark and moody food photography. I enjoyed this article and decided to include it because it provides the perspective of one person and how they personally approach dark and moody food photography. It’s less of a “this is how you should do it” type of post. She even says,

“While I’ve admired the look for a long time, I’ve recently started experimenting with the dark and moody effect myself. Throughout this post, I’ll share a few of my first efforts with this technique starting with chocolate and other elements from my cake styling shoot.”

Lisa talks about how she has personally grown with shooting dark and moody, and also talks about how she’s learned to enhance this style by using some post-processing. This is a great chronicle of one person’s journey through trying to achieve the perfect “dark and moody” style.

Full post: Dark Food Photography

Follow Lisa on: PinterestInstagram, & Facebook


Tip 4. An overall look at Dark and Moody Food Photography via Vera at NicestThings.com

This very in-depth guide is a gift. Within it, not only does Vera discuss what “dark and moody” is in a clear way, but she also carefully explain how to achieve it by covering points like props, backgrounds, lighting, styling, equipment needed, and editing!

I enjoyed Vera’s description of what dark food photography is: 


vera nicestthing tamron

                         Image Via Nicest Things

“The photos are dark with atmospheric light accents on the food and exciting rustic textures. They come across as being honest, spontaneous and have a somewhat melancholy and shabby appeal, making you feel as though you’re sitting at an old oak table in the back room of an Italian trattoria having dinner with the padrone.”

This is another article that I believe would be a great starting point for anyone who’s trying to learn how to achieve this specific look.

Full postDark and Moody Food Photography via Tamron

Check out Vera’s personal blog: Nicest Things For Interior DYI

Follow Vera On: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & Instagram 

Tip 5. Using artificial light to achieve the dark and moody look via MexicanandMeatless.com

Nancy from Mexican and Meatless (wow, I love that name) created a guide that covers how to use artificial lights to shoot food photography. Although it seemed like Nancy was attempting to simply show how artificial light can be used, she did it by showing an example that I believe would be considered “dark and moody”.

dark food photography, mexican and meatless

                    Image via Mexican & Meatless


She has a diagram for how the setup looks, quickly mentions the equipment she uses and shows the difference between using silver, white, & gold reflectors, she also shows us what the different images look like before and after post-processing.

When she goes into the props that she uses portion of the article, she says 

“ From the beginning, I knew that if I started thinking about needing to buy a bunch of props and dishware, I would be wasting energy that I needed to direct on learning my camera and lighting first. As time went by, I began experimenting with a few props. I feel that it is the food that should be the center of attention and not the props, so I tend to not use many. What I do use are tablecloths, place mats/table mats, kitchen towels, small pieces of fabrics, flowers, plants, ribbons, and color paper.”

As someone who’s a beginner, I found that quote interesting because the thought of not worrying about getting all of the perfect props until later had not crossed my mind. Now I’m giving it some more careful thought!

Full postFood Photography: My Shooting Setup With Artificial Light

Follow Nancy On: TwitterPinterest,  Instagram, & Facebook

Tip 6. 5 Essentials for Shooting Dark Food Photography via Cheeky Kitchen

Brooke from Cheeky Kitchen created this video that is so easy to follow. If you learn through seeing people do things, this is for you! There’s something about the way she explains it that brought me comfort and made it seem like it would be easy to do. I don’t know Brooke, but I wish she could be a fly on the wall while I actually attempt this so she could laugh.

Anyway, Brooke covers the equipment you need and even the props you can use. I love how she mentions that it’s not really too important to get your props from a specific place. This put me at ease because many other food photographers say the exact opposite.

My favorite part of the video is when she says

“when you’re doing dark photography, you want to make sure you decide where you want your light source to come from because it becomes extremely obvious when you’re taking your pictures”

Full Post5 Essentials for Shooting Dark Food Photography

Follow Brooke On: TwitterPinterest, & Instagram  


Like “light and airy” food photography, dark and moody has its own place in the food photography realm. Whether the trend will continue upwards or go downward? Well, your guess is as good as mine.

Hopefully, I’ve provided you with enough information to feel like you can get started with capturing dark and moody food photography.

How do you feel about dark and moody food photography? Is it your favorite? Do you love it? Do you hate it? Comment below and let me know – ‘Rouk 



It was the Sunday after my birthday…

and I really wanted something to eat because I was still recovering from another episode of “too much bourbon in the city” from the night before.

I was with a few friends, and we debated over places to get brunch. After opinions flew & playful insults were passed on, we all agreed to go to Peaches in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.

I had been to Peaches about three other times before and was in the mood to try something different from my usual order of a burger and fries.

I looked over the menu and almost everything sounded tempting. You probably know that feeling of having a hard time choosing what to eat at a restaurant because you know that everything is delicious. Yeah, that feeling happened.

I finally decided to order something that I don’t usually order. A shrimp Po’ boy. I decided to order it because it’s not something that is typically seen on menus everywhere in New York, and it had been a long time since I had a good Po’ Boy.

My mind wandered for a little bit after ordering, and I started to wonder how the sandwich itself came to be. I think it’s fair to say that it’s common knowledge that the sandwich originated in New Orleans, but I didn’t know much else about it besides that.

I wasn’t able to look into it more that day because I spent it getting my life back together, but I got that info’ and you can read about the Po’ Boy (or poor boy) sandwich below.

What the hell is a Po’ Boy Sandwich?

The Po’ Boy sandwich that we know today is made of french bread, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, mayonnaise, and whatever type of meat is clever to really make it your own. It’s a sandwich that can be found at restaurants around the country, even though it originated in New Orleans, Louisiana where they still swear by the Po’ Boy. Generally speaking, It is one of the most popular types of sandwiches.


Po’ boy and fries #eatwithrouk #beyondtheeats

A photo posted by Rouk (@beyondtheeats) on


The History of the Po’ Boy…

Bennie and Clovis Martin weren’t trying to make history when they created the Po’ Boy, they were just trying to help people in a time of need.

According to the Po’ Boy Fest website, In 1922, Both Bennie and Clovis quit their jobs as streetcar workers in New Orleans to open a coffee stand & restaurant. They worked there for years trying to make a name for it, until 1929 when something happened that changed the whole course of their story and this story for that matter, so brace yourself…..

In 1929, the streetcar workers in New Orleans and many other parts of the nation went on strike. This strike is known to be one of the most violent in the history of the United States. 

People flipped train cars, burned them, and pretty much did everything in their power to keep the trains from running and people from riding them. They were really fed up.

This quote from Fire Department Superintendent, William McCrossen puts the level of violence into context. He was a teenager in the area when the streetcar strikes were happening.

“Dare not—nobody, nobody would ride the streetcars. Number one, they were for the carmen. Number two, there was a danger [in riding the cars].”


There was chaos happening, but in the midst of it, Bennie & Clovis decided to make a positive change.

Understanding that a lot of people wouldn’t have much money to feed themselves nor their families, Bennie and Clovis took a huge step forward and decided to create a sandwich that was free and easy to make, so that they could help their squad in a time of need. 

They even wrote a to all of the streetcar workers who were on strike. In it, they expressed their support and gave them an offer for a free meal. You can read the full letter below, but the two parts that jumped out at me read:

“At any time you are around the french market, don’t forget to drop in at Martin’s Coffee Stand & Restaurant .. our meal is free to any members of division 194”

They were with the streetcar workers in the fight. It also goes on to say…

“We are with you till hell freezes, and when it does, we will furnish blankets to keep you warm.”

The Martin brothers letter to streetcar workers dated August 6th, 1929.

Bennie Martin said, 

“We fed those men free of charge until the strike ended. Whenever we saw one of the striking men coming, one of us would say, ‘Here comes another poor boy.'” 

Everyone referred to the sandwiches as “Poor’ Boys” because it was the free meal that was given to any streetcar worker who was on strike. People would even ask for them as “Poor Boys”, so the name stuck.

The Martin brothers created a french bread with a baker named John Gendusa. With the original french loaf, the ends get small so they didn’t like how they would always have to cut the side. They worked with John Gendusa to make a French loaf that is longer than normal, and rectangular on both ends so they didn’t have to waste bread.

The first Po’ Boy was simple. It consisted of fried potato, meat scraps, and roast beef gravy on bread, but people LOVED it. There were even people lining up to buy the sandwich right along with the “poor boys” how were getting it for free.99.

Quick Sidenote…. 

While researching, I found this cool video from Mind Of a Chef. this short but dope video shows you an animated history of the

Po’ Boy in under 2 minutes. (You have 2 minutes to watch it, I know you do.)

The Po’ Boy of today is different…

Now the Po’ Boy is a part of life for some, most being people from New Orleans. According to this article on CBS Chef Justin Kennedy who is head chef at a popular New Orleans Restaurant said

“It’s a way of life,It’s like going to church. It’s like walking your dog … it’s a lifeblood in New Orleans. I’m glad to be a part of it.”

He also went on to talk about how Peyton & Eli Manning loved eating Po’ Boys growing up..

“They’d come after football practice in high school and they would sit down and both of them would eat two large shrimps in one sitting … which is amazing. I still can’t fathom it.” 

The Po’ Boy is here to stay, and I hope most people are as happy that I am that it’s around for us to enjoy. 

What are your thoughts about the P’ Boy story? Comment below and let me know. 


Mind of a chef video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBkkuCaPYMs
Martin brothers letter: http://www.poboyfest.com/files/images/MartinBrothersletter.jpg
History of the Po’ Boy: http://www.poboyfest.com/history
Chef Justin Kennedy quotes: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-tale-behind-the-sandwich-new-orleans-po-boy/