EXCLUSIVE: Our interview with Simon Sperling

Photos courtesy of Simon Sperling Simon Sperling is a chef cum photographer who loves travelling and has a brilliant portfolio of food ...

Photos courtesy of Simon Sperling

Simon Sperling is a chef cum photographer who loves travelling and has a brilliant portfolio of food photography! He has very kindly agreed to an interview with us and believe it when we say that he is talented! Not only that, he has travelled the globe and he was also based in Malaysia for a couple of years and has showcased wonderful food.

Read on to get to know him a little better!

Hi Simon, please start by introducing yourself!
I was born and grew up in the south of Germany . I didn’t really enjoy school, but life sort of started during my chef’s apprenticeship. Food, people, creativity, ideas and lot’s of activities, I loved it.

After apprenticeship I went to work for a year in Geneva , a city I love and remember until today. A few years on, back in Germany , I finalized my master chef title and was looking for new experiences.

I ended up working on a cruise ship for Celebrity Cruise Lines, based in Miami , as Executive Chef. Here I met my love, we stopped cruising and got married in Las Vegas!

We went to Asia and I worked in the Philippines , China and Malaysia for a few years. Best time of my life, also as my son was born in the Philippines . Next stop was the Mediterranean, Africa and the Middle East region, where I am until today. I had the pleasure to work at the fabulous Anassa resort in Cyprus , followed by a classic, the Oberoi’s Mena House near the pyramids. Just imagine looking out of the window and seeing the pyramids everyday.

Then we experienced a completely different environment on the beautiful island of Mauritius . Didn’t stay long though and moved on to Saudi Arabia, where I worked a few years in Jeddah, where I was opening chef for the Waldorf Astoria Collection hotel, the Qasr Al Sharq, or Palace of the Orient.

Recently I worked again in Egypt and am now in Kuwait . Let’s see for how long…I want to see more of the world and take photos of it.

I try to keep my life simple, live healthy, love my family and help others where I can.

Need to know more? Read the stars about me, I am a typical Leo, or Tiger for the Chinese.

Where specifically did you work at in Malaysia? We would love to know a little more about your experience here!
My first 2 years in Asia I worked in the Philippines. Then I joined Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts in Hangzhou, China. That was from 1994 to 97. During that time the Shangri-La was the only international brand hotel in Hangzhou. I believe today it's all different.

Then in 1997 I was transferrerd to the Shangri-La Penang a Executive Chef. It ws the city hotel, which today is the Trader's hotel. Loved my work there, learned a lot about Asia and the food. Also to work with all the different cultures, from expats to Chinese, Indian, Malay was awesome. My kind of job.

We used to go to Shangri-La's beach properties on the weekends to relax. My son started schooling there in an international school and after all these years traveling, he will finish his high schol here in Kuwait. It was in Penang also that I run my first half marathon, over the bridge, I remember that. Had a great time there and Malaysia is one of our favorite countries in terms of expat life.

How did you start photography?
I always liked photos, but it really only started when I bought a camera from one of my first salaries as apprentice. Back then I shot in film of course, lot’s of black and whites. I always dreamt of developing my own black and white films, but never did. That dream came back recently when I bought a old camera and I guess it’s never too late.

What equipment do you use?
Presently the Nikon D90 with an external flash. I haven’t really used the flash though, a project I want to start soon. I am fascinated by these strobist type of portraits.

1998 during my stay in Penang, I bought my first digital camera. It was a Sony Mavica with floppy disks as storage. I remember the capacity was 1.4 MB and one disk held around 30 photos. I also have a Canon Powershot G7 and bought a Prakitka MTL 50 in Cairo .

Somewhere hidden in a box or in a cabinet I still have my old Nikon F301 and a Metz 45 flash. I loved that combination and thought I look real cool with that monster setup, but it’s merely part of the collection for now. How I would love to use that flash, but I read it would fry the digital cameras. In between and over the years I also had some point and shoot cameras. I am happy with what I have, but maybe a rangefinder could be a good addition? Or any other old camera… as I love vintage stuff.

What do you have to tell from your photos?
My photos mostly document the places I see as I want to share that. But also some food I ate and food I cooked. Sprinkled in between here and there you will find an attempt to minimalistic photography or experiments like star trails or long exposures. I love to explore those technical aspects of photography.

But my main driver is the desire to share what i see of the world.

Do you travel for your photography or does your travel bring you to it?
I am so lucky, that my work brings me to so many places.

Has a waiter or manager stopped you from taking photos of food in restaurants? If so, what do you do?
I take food photos at work or at home. So nobody stops me there, hahaha, and I usually get support to take photos.

Has food always been a theme that you always wanted to do?
Certainly it was on my mind, but always thought it to be difficult or requiring to much equipment. I don’t use any of it now except the camera and still started to shoot food.

Maybe one day I can do properly, if there is such thing, but for now the cooking part takes up more time than the shooting part.

Finally, if there is one place on earth you'd like to photograph, where would it be?
Can I mention two places? Australia and South America .

We don't think the limited number of photos we posted does Simon much justice. So please take a look at his beautiful collection of photography on Tumblr!

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