The Art of the Scrounge

We’re working on a suckling pig menu in the test kitchen, and my art director sent me prop shopping for the photo shoot. The theme: Catholic Church meets sexy Spanish Medieval. Where exactly do these props exist in retail? Home Depot, wholesale tile warehouses, reclaimed-materials graveyards, Williams-Sonoma, secondhand cookery shops, Chinese restaurant suppliers, and Ross apparently, as I channeled my inner head-to-toe-black-wearing, skull-clad dude to make this vision happen.

More mundane items were easily located, like containers for tarts and mashed potatoes. However, I don’t know if you’ve ever looked for a platter that can house a suckling pig, but large-platter availability pretty much ends at huge-turkey size. Enter Home Depot. Let’s just say that this is where the “leave no stone unturned” theory comes in. Unfortunately, giant pieces of slate—suckling pig size, say—need to be special-ordered. Fail.

Next up: tile. Find blue surface tile. What does this mean? Uh, go to a wholesale tile warehouse with a Pantone swatch and find tile flanked by a bunch of crusty guys who install flooring and want to know why I’m walking around with a fork and napkin laying it next to bargain tile piles. Surprise, I actually found the perfect shade that complements my mashed potato bowl. Luck or skill? Who cares, success!

On my third shopping trip to outfit this pig dinner, I finally checked out Cookin’, the most fabulous cooking materials resale shop ever. Walking inside this magical place, packed floor to ceiling with every vintage dish, pot, pan, knife, and accouterment you can imagine, I feel in my gut that this is the place to find my pig platter. After a few minutes of chatting with the owner, my platter came to me in the form of a clearly Catholic sexy Spanish Medieval black metal cookie sheet. Sounds wrong, but it was so right. And that’s a wrap on pig shopping.

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