Nik Sharma: ‘Cooking techniques have foundations in science’
In the kitchen, Nik Sharma still draws on his training as a biologist. Cue brilliant masala hash browns, roasted fruit with miso tahini, plus the ultimate roast chicken
Around four years ago, when he was working as a food photographer at a San Francisco-based meal delivery startup, Nik Sharma’s bosses delicately informed him that they were unhappy with his work. The problem? Well, his images were far, far too good. “The photos I was taking looked better than what people were getting delivered,” remembers Sharma with a laugh. “Customer expectations didn’t match what showed up. So I was told to tone down the quality of my photos and make them more realistic, which was a very bizarre thing to be told.”
It’s a story that confirms what devoted fans of this Mumbai-born, California-based cook and food writer have known for some time. Sharma – as evidenced by the tactile, painterly self-taken photographs that tend to accompany his recipes – has an innate visual understanding of culinary desirability. Sunset-yellow mango pudding appears sprinkled with pistachios; honey swirls onto figs in glistening strands; brown hands scatter flour in moody, Caravaggio lighting. Whether through his acclaimed blog, A Brown Table, or in Season – his debut cookbook from 2018 – the 40-year-old’s signature is food that unites earthy, cross-cultural abundance with uncommon good looks. He has, to put it another way, a feeder’s heart and an aesthete’s eye.