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Alan Battman Batt

Alan Batt, a.k.a. Battman, a photographer, has immersed himself in the world of haute cuisine in the past couple of years. He self publishes cookbooks with stunning photography. Small Things Sweet and Small Things Savory are the latest of the series. Battman’s other books, which all showcase the talents of world-renowned chefs, include The Great Bagel & Lox Book, New York Sweets, Summer in New York, Sandwiches of the World, The Colors of Dessert, and Soup.

In addition to compiling these books, he organizes the annual The Great Gathering of Chefs to raise money for charitable causes including The Children’s Storefront and Action Against Hunger.

Intrigued by these projects, I asked Battman a couple of questions and was fascinated to learn that he is actually not a foodie! Here’s what he had to share:

What was the impetus for developing and self-publishing these books?

I had been photographing New York for 25 years and publishing the pictures on greeting cards. I couldn’t figure out any more ways to take pictures of the Empire State Building, so I was looking for something else. I can’t remember what sparked “food” because I am a total non-foodie. But it was easy, the chefs were happy and I really liked doing it. At the time I had a permanent exhibition at the Empire State Building, so I hung up 21 photos of food. The Great Bagel & Lox Book was my first self-published book and remains my favorite (subject-wise). I am amazed at what the chefs can do with food and have learned to appreciate the variety and textures of more complex food, but still remain a non-foodie.

What was the thought process behind Small Things Savory and Small Things Sweet?

A few people over the last two years mentioned hors d’oeuvres. I listen to everyone’s thoughts and then figure out what to do. This seemed like a good idea.

How did The Great Gathering of Chefs come about?

The event came with the publishing of the first book. During the creative process, an idea pops in your head and then you refine it. I had met the people from The Children’s Storefront, a tuition-free school in Harlem, and wanted to help them out. The event was perfect for it. We had 57 chefs come to Grand Central Terminal to sign 100 books, and we sold all of them, with all the money going to the school. It also brings a lot of chefs together for a non-cooking get-together. They see all the work that the other chefs have done and get to raise money just by showing up.

Celia Sin-Tien Cheng | November 20, 2009