Award-winning filmmaker David Gelb, the man behind much-lauded food documentaries Chef’s Table, Jiro Dreams of Sushi and Wolfgang, has a new film.
This time Gelb has crafted a documentary, featuring one of Singapore’s most iconic and most contested dishes: chicken rice. Deviating from his signature chefs-as-singular visionaries concept, Poached casts a spotlight on not one but three chefs entangled in a feud.
In the 5.5-min short, he documents the hostile rivalry between the disgruntled former head cook of Tian Tian, Wong Lian Tai, and Loi Mui Yin, who took over Tian Tian, her mother’s business. Wong, unhappy with the way Loi ran the operations, left his company of 20 years and opened his own stall, Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice, just two stalls beside Tian Tian. The film also has local food experts Annette Tan and Bjorn Shen offering anecdotes and personal thoughts on the notorious chicken rice war.
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More than just a tribute to Singapore’s hawker culture, this chicken rice documentary is also Apple’s blockbuster showcase of the iPhone 13 Pro. Yes, David Gelb shot Poached using the tech giant’s latest smartphone, without sacrificing the crisp camerawork, romantic slow motion and classical music backdrop that the director is known for. How? Gelb lets us in on the production in The Making of Poached:
If watching Poached doesn’t make you want to tinker with all the cool features of the iPhone 13 Pro, the three-minute behind-the-scenes clip will. “When I was first starting out, I wished I could have had a device like this,” says Gelb in The Making of Poached, adding how he made use of the iPhone 13 Pro’s extensive suite of camera tools, such as Cinematic mode, Macro, Slo-mo, Time Lapse and Low light for the documentary.
The mobility of the device also allowed Gelb to shoot from more angles for the chicken rice documentary in tight spaces: “Anytime we see something in motion, we think: Maybe we can attach a camera to that. We were hanging the camera in various positions and in places where a larger-format camera would have more trouble.”
Honouring the city’s love for food, Apple also invited local content creators to offer their perspectives on Singapore’s UNESCO Heritage hawker culture, alongside tips to help you perfect your shots. Ahead we highlight our favourite snaps of deliciousness:
Food stylist and photographer C.R Tan shot this video (using Cinematic mode) of a hawker preparing idly, a type of steamed rice cake at Sri Aachi Aappakadai at Tekka Market. “There are multiple ways of angling your phone for achieving many interesting perspectives with the food. For example, anticipate the process of each step of food preparation so that you can plan the framing and flow with the hawker’s actions when rolling.”
Foodie influencer Veronica Phua goes up close to capture the vivid folds of a curry puff from Wang Wang Crispy Curry Puff at Old Airport Road Food Centre. “I highly recommend trying out the Macro feature whenever there are interesting textures because the details it can capture is extraordinary. Even the most familiar of dishes has new beauty to reveal.”
Well-known for her food photography, Melissa Patrice documented the prata-making process at Prata Saga Sambal Berlada at Tekka Market. “Slo-mo is a great feature to highlight and draw attention to specific actions, such as the flipping of prata, which may sometimes be too fast to capture.”
Having an idea of the story you want to tell helps you figure out the type of shots you need before you start filming. Says chef Willin Low on his reel featuring Generation Coffee at Tekka Market. “Before the shoot, have a rough idea how you want the story to pan out in your mind; the mood, the visuals, and the angles. However, as things are fluid during a shoot, allow what you see to inspire you even if it means straying from the script.”
For more information about the iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 14, visit Apple’s website.
(All images: Apple)