Behind the Scenes at the Burger Bonanza Shoot

From puppy mascots to butchery lessons, a peek at how the photos for the July issue came together.

Moo, Tasty Burger chef Brian Reyault’s adorable, wiggly French Bulldog puppy (and unofficial Tasty Burger mascot) paid a visit to the set. And yes, I did offer my dog sitting services to Reyault. He has yet to take me up on it.

Last week we debuted our first-ever Burger Bonanza—a comprehensive guide to Boston’s best burger eats, patty-friendly booze pairings, an analysis of the city’s burger boom, and much, much more. All of the intensive research that went into the feature had its costs—what I gained in burger smarts, I sacrificed sartorially (my favorite skinny jeans split the morning of our photoshoot). But of course, it was all worth it. So how exactly did we make all those burgers look so damn drool-worthy? I grabbed some behind-the-scenes snaps while we were on our two-day shoot. Ahead: a peek into the bizarre world of Boston magazine food styling.

Wonder how a shot like this comes to fruition? Photographer Sam Kaplan (who also shot our massive beer guide) rigged this set up, which allowed each element of the frankenburger to be shot on a separate glass plate.

Food stylist Jessica Weatherhead arranges the different elements on the plates (note her superb bun-saucing skills): Blue Frog bakery bun, Sel de la Terre spicy aioli, Grillos pickled green tomatoes, ultra-smokey Benton’s bacon (which scented the set beautifully), Cabot cloth-bound cheddar, and Harvest’s Archer Farms angus patty.

For the “How to Make Your Burger More Awesome” shot, we needed lots of meat. Ace butcher Michael Dulock (left, of the forthcoming M.F. Dulock butcher shop in Somerville) came by the set to break down the cuts of beef that he finds ideal for a burger (chuck arm, brisket point cut, and beef foreshank). Here, he’s talking shop with Boston magazine’s photo editor, Scott Lacey (right).

In the background, food stylist Rowena Day sets to work arranging the opening spread for the feature (if you’ve only seen the story online, a peek at that shot is below). In the foreground, Kaplan and assistant Dominic Casserly get to work shooting the home cooking photo.

A look at the finished opening shot from the feature. Photo editor Scott Lacey and I swung by Sullivan’s in Castle Island to pick up 135 of these burgers in the morning before the shoot. See how this photo came together below.

What kind of fries will appear perfectly fresh for hours under hot lights? McDonald’s fries, of course. We used the real McCoys for the “Fancy Fries” piece, but Golden Arches spuds were present in the opening photo. And yes, I may or may not have buried my face in the bag (of 10 large fries, to be exact) for a couple of deep inhales.

Stylist Rowena Day (right) painstakingly assembled the burgers on Crate & Barrel cake pedestals for the shot.

Day and Kaplan carefully tinker with the burger layout.

The opening shot, almost ready to go.

….And one more gratuitous puppy shot. Just because.

For more online food coverage, find us on Twitter at @ChowderBoston.