Bento Marathon 3
Really I am writing this because of a bento contest. All started after I participated in the Bento&co’s contest in 2011, I had no idea that I would be doing what I am doing now three years later. Some of you who are reading this post may have participated in a contest before and maybe you are curious to know what I think of a bento contest? What I am going to write here is my personal opinion and it has nothing to do with any bento contest or organization. Having said that, I hope you could kindly let me talk for a moment.
When you are participating in a bento contest, of course your bento presentation is the most crucial thing. The level is getting higher and higher these days, you are required to present a good competitive bento to the judges. Specially when one is entering into a bento contest in Japan, remember she is the mother land of bento, the level is notably very high. If you have been to Japan I think you saw. Everywhere you go you see beautiful food. The Japanese culinary world sets a high value on its beautiful food presentation and people are so used to see it so in their daily life as well. So how do we survive? My advise for you will be :Take your time and plan your presentation very well. In order to plan well you do need to understand the theme of the contest well (here is the previous post about understanding contest rules). In the framework of the theme, how can you present a nice bento which will stand out and get attention of the judges? It is a big question but I think we all should think about that. If the theme has not been announced, just keep calm and make bento 🙂 You don’t have to make a fancy bento everyday, just an ordinary bento will be fine. If you have no time to make bento, visit your favorite bento blog or web site to keep yourself motivated and inspired. Although a bento blogger on Internet is not your personal friend, in most cases she lives very far away from you. But I think those of you who have good bento friends to share the common interest together progress very much.
Taking a nice photo is also important. You do not need to run to a camera shop and buy an expensive professional camera but it is a fact that the quality of your photo speaks a lot at a contest. Taking a good photo of food is a profound thing, I take more than 10,000 photos of food a year and I am still a learner. ” Rome ne s’est pas faite en un jour” (Rome was not built in a day)”, food photography is not mastered in one day either. If you know someone who can help, that is very nice. You can make a good bento for him/her to say thank you and that will be a fun party. You and your camera man can look at the weather forecast and decide the photo shooting day. I hope you won’t find only the sign of umbrella then because good natural light is necessary to take good photos, last but not least I remind you that using direct flash light will only damage your presentation. Once again I recommend you to go back to the contest rules and find if there is any special mention about the orientation of the photo. Is a portrait shot allowed? or do I have to take it in horizontal aspect? Make a note and get yourself prepared. If you know what you are going to cook for your contest bento, write a shopping list. If I were you I would have all the grocery shopping done the day before I plan to cook. Maybe you will do the shopping on Friday and use your weekend to cook and take pictures? It is all up to you and the goddess of the weather!
On the cooking day, have a good breakfast and just enjoy cooking to make YOUR bento. You do not have to imitate a Japanese bento in the Japanese style, we can have our own style. I think bento outside Japan has come to the point to start developing its own style and that is so exciting.
I really wish you all good luck and I hope to see you listed among the finalists and winners, but even if you tried hard and did not win, don’t get discouraged. I hope you will keep your chin up and try the next opportunity. I am sure it will show your challenging attitude and spirit in your bento. Although I did not win in 2011 either, I am so thankful for the fun and the people I have been blessed. A bento contest can change your life pretty much regardless of who took the title.
Surely I have said this post has nothing to do with Bento&co, but I write here the theme of this year’s Bento& co’s contest will be soon announced. I don’t know what it will be, I am as anxious as you are. While we wait, we have many things to do, and I hope you are ready.