First, thank you to everyone who was following me on Instagram and Facebook yesterday and all the wonderful comments and likes – totally felt like a Rockstar – thank you!

So I really had no expectations for yesterday at all.  I’d had a few conversations with AJ the photographer.  Totally awesome guy by the way.  I knew he bought me a few pieces to wear (which I didn’t get to keep, fyi!) and I was told to bring dark jeans and a wide belt.

It started out as a chilly day – 40 degrees.  For people who don’t live in cold areas, most public transportation areas have a warming station that you can sit under – its basically just 3/4 enclosed with heat lamps so you are out of the wind and/or rain.

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I ate one of Jacky’s apple and cheddar scones that I made over the weekend – so fricken good!

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Since it was an hour and 20 minute train ride, and I wasn’t sure what the day was going to be like, I ended up getting a “second” breakfast at the train station.  Not many places open for breakfast, so I ended up getting an egg/ham/cheese breakfast panini.  Not bad for $3.99, but too much bread so I took the top bread off.

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So we meet at The Chopping Block (I walked the mile from the train station) (or what I like to call – the first location – ha!) and they were so gracious to provide us with props, cutting boards, etc.  Checking in on us a few times to see if everything was okay.   Granted, I’d only been to this place once last month at the Beef Counsel event I was invited to.  So the fact that they were more than welcome to give us the space for free was amazeballs.  I need to email Andrea the PR director for putting it all together, and Mario for taking care of us today.

It’s in The Merchandise Mart – this building is so huge!  Only 4,000,000 square feet of space.  Yep FOUR MILLION!

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Shortly after AJ started to set up, Nora, the hair and makeup stylist was there.  Totally fun girl too – I loved that they got my sense of humor right away and it made the whole thing seem a bit less surreal to me.  I mean, it’s not every day that you get your hair and makeup done and have your photos professionally taken!

I sent this picture to Tony after my hair and makeup was done.

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His comment?  “Wow, I am dumbfounded.”  He said it looked like a caricature of me, but I guess in a good way?  He’s never seen my lips shaped like that before, and I have never once worn red in my life.  And that was a DRESS people.  I haven’t worn a dress since my friends wedding and that was maybe 8 years ago?!

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This was photo shoot location #1.  Heather, this was down the hall from where we had our cooking challenge – I didn’t even know it was there!

Since he had to wrap up his equipment, he asked that I meat him at his studio in an hour and fifteen minutes.  I talked to Tony on the phone, then got bundled up with the thought of just walking towards the studio until I found someplace to eat, and then probably hitch a cab to the studio.

The weather at this point?  Fucking gross – so windy, sleet/rain/snow mix.  My umbrella literally turned inside out because of the wind and once I got that situated, I looked to my left and lo and behold, I was standing in front of a BBQ Joint!

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That would be Blackwood BBQ.  I hadn’t heard of it, but that’s not unusual since I don’t get into the city that often.  Once I found out there was brisket I was sold!   Since I had bread at breakfast, I opted to for their brisket salad.  I asked if I could take a picture of their glorious beef!

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Look at the bark on that!! I wish it was a better picture, so I “borrowed” one from their website.  Um, yeah, that’s better!


Look at the smoke ring on that brisket people!   Well, that would be why – their meat is smoked for fourteen hours!

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I was actually eyeing the Mac N Cheese.  You know I puffy heart anything with cheese in it!  But I stuck with my salad.

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Again, not the best picture, but don’t let that fool you.  It was a wonderful mix of baby greens, with seasoned corn, shredded carrot, the brisket, and for a dressing?  NORTH CAROLINA BBQ SAUCE BABY!  Not sure if it was the spice in the BBQ sauce or on the rub of the brisket, but it had a wonderful heat to it.

Right before I started eating, one of the owners came over to ask if I was the one taking pictures.  I said yes, I was a food blogger who was “just in the city doing a photo shoot for a National magazine” and had a food blog with 1.4 million readers, his eyes lit up and he brought me his card over and said if I had any questions, just to let him know!

As I was packing up to get ready to go he brought me over his mac n cheese and said that everyone raved about it and he wanted me to have one on the house!  So I brought it to AJs house and said “hey I got free mac n cheese – do you want some?”  He said yes and then said “did you take a picture of it yet?”  I said no – while I took this picture:

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AJ had other ideas!  He got a plate, fork and a bandana to food style it!

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Okay, not only his photo (on my camera mind you!) better, but holy shit this is some legit mac n cheese.  They use three cheeses, and I am confident it’s a butter panko crusty topping.  I took one bite and gave the rest to AJ.  So good!

One look I didn’t quite like was the cowel neck (I am sure I am not spelling that right!) and the high belt.  It made me feel too boxy in the middle since that’s where all my weight is, but he assured me it looked good!

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While at his studio he brought out some snacks that were leftover from a food photo shoot – proscuitto wrapped cheese?  Yes please!

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We did a final shoot a few blocks away outdoors, but the weather was really starting to get snowy out so we called it a day.  I ended up walking from his studio back to the train station – so all in all I did about 2.5 miles of walking in the city – not bad!

Thanks AJ for a great photo shoot – you were totally professional and made me feel at ease from the first second.

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Yep, that would be him preparing a model release form for me!  So now Tony can say that he sleeps with a model! Open-mouthed smile

One thing I had to bring home?  Garrett’s popcorn for Tony – next to my Dunkin Donuts coffee for me!

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When I got back to our local train station, we had about 1/2 an inch of snow and the whole first layer was ice – had to use the ice scraper for the first time this year!  Check out the icicles off my rear view camera on my car!

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So it was more than I ever could have expected the day to go, and can’t wait to share with you the professional pics.

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The hair stylist suggested the next time I have my hair cut to ask for chunkier bangs, she said it would frame my face better.  Nice to know I can clean up pretty good!

Alright, sorry this is so long, but it was a fun day and I wanted to share it with you.  Looking forward to checking up with what you all are up to!  Make it a great day!