Sometimes, clients, just like people, come into your life for a particular reason. Sometimes they offer you an opportunity to learn a new skill. Or to grow and collaborate together. Or because it leads to clients way down the road. Or because you simply need each other.
The longer I’m in this business, the more I think there are no happy accidents. I know – I’m a little more “it was meant to be” than most photographers, but I’m okay with that.
I was meant to work with Twenty Twenty Grille before I even knew them.
But backing up. I first met Tall Ron at the Ultimate Chefs Dinner held at Bistro 1001 in West Palm Beach last October. I can’t resist a good chef’s dinner and Ron jumped in to prepare an amazing course of Tagliatelle made with duck confit, chicken confit, caramelized cipollini onions, oven-dried tomatoes, baby arugula.
When I returned to freelancing for The Palm Beach Post in January after about a short hiatus, the first restaurant I wrote about was Twenty Twenty Grille. And – here’s something embarrassing I’m going to tell you. I got Rhonda’s name wrong in the article. I called her Wanda.
It’s the second time that I can remember getting someone’s name wrong. In my history of being a journalist.
I called her the morning it ran so she’d hear it from me first.
“I changed your name,” I told her sheepishly, feeling beyond awful. She laughed. A loud, beautiful wonderful laugh. And that’s when it began, that’s when I knew.
A few months after the Rhonda-Wanda moment, I came to Twenty Twenty Grille for a photo shoot. We talked about their goals for the photo shoot – what they hoped to accomplish with the photos and how to approach the shoot. This type of collaboration is critical for a successful project. I want as many people involved as possible. I’ve never been a photographer that shies away from direction, suggestions, gentle criticism and strong collaboration. It leads to a better end product. My ego, my part in the process is tiny tiny. The most important thing is and always will be the end result.
Twenty Twenty Grille is like a tiny house – at first you walk in and you can’t believe how small it is (20 seats inside and 20 seats outside). But then, after sitting down and all the love pours out of the kitchen and over you, you can’t believe the restaurant is big enough to hold so much love, that Boca is big enough to hold so much love.
That’s what makes it so special, so amazing. It’s like you’re dining in Ron and Rhonda’s house, like you’re their special guest, whether you’re meeting them for the first time or you come every week.
At Twenty Twenty Grille, Chef Ron creates American food with a contemporary flair, driven by an artistic spirit and the underlying urge to experiment with unique flavor combinations: think cinnamon rubbed duck or foie gras and scallops.
And can I talk about those scallops? After extensive, ahem, research, I can’t get those scallops out of my head. A beautiful pan roasted diver scallop with foie gras, white chocolate/fennel puree and blackberry “candy” it’s one of the best things I’ve eaten this year. It haunts my dreams.
After our shoots, Rhonda and Ron invited Adam and I to dine with them. It was beautiful – all the gorgeous food I’d been photographed with Rhonda’s gracious and loving hospitality.
One of the highlights of their guests’ night is when Chef Ron’s visits every table between courses and plays the “sorbet game,” presenting them with a lush palate cleanser.
“Guess the sorbet and that table will buy you dessert,” he solemnly promises, nodding his head to the nearest table.
I knew from witnessing this it would be impossible – I believe it was cucumber-lemon-beet-honey the night we were there or something equally delicious-challenging. (And don’t worry – the flavors are ALWAYS delicious!)
Ron is an artist – quiet, exacting, contemplative, sincere and Rhonda is his light that steadfastly clears the path for him to create.
We, the lucky ones who know of Twenty Twenty, are the benefactors.
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