With 14 book publications behind his name and over three decades of experience as a chef, we may well consider Heinz von Holzen an authority on Indonesian food. During his entire professional career Heinz managed to combine his passion for authentic food with a passion for photography.
It probably all started with a strong desire to keep moving and discovering new things. As a youngster Swiss born Heinz von Holzen aspired a career as an engineer. He soon got bored sitting behind a desk and found a position as an apprentice cook. Working as a chef at various first class hotels in Europe, Australia and Asia gave him the opportunity to see the world. Ever since the camera has been his travel companion. Furthermore, Heinz developed the good practise to visually document the recipes he created. Especially after he had started to work in Singapore. “It was then in Singapore that I became hooked on photography , which allowed me to visually document many great dishes that we prepared.” And he didn’t settle for mediocre results, not in cooking nor in his photography.
Working as a chef in Singapore, Heinz was asked to become the executive chef of the new Grand Hyatt at the Isle of Bali. Shortly after his arrival, now 32 years ago, he met a publisher by chance. He was impressed by Heinz’ food shots and encouraged him to publish his first book on Balinese cuisine. It became a success and many would follow.
After 4 ½ years at the Grand Hyatt Bali Heinz decided to resign. Together with his wife Puji he set up a company specialising in commercial photography, advertising and food consulting. The photographing chef now had become a professional photographer. However, that didn’t make him happy, as he enjoyed making pictures a lot less now it had become his bread and butter. So he went back to his first passion, food. This resulted in the opening of Bumbu Bali, restaurant and cooking school, soon followed by a second restaurant and a small hotel.
A good chef remains inquisitive throughout his career and Heinz’ photography has probably benefited a lot of his investigative nature. “During the past 32 years I was utmost fortunate to be able to travel extensively across Indonesia. Whenever I got stuck with answers about food in a specific part of Indonesia, I searched for a reliable contact in that region. Next I purchased a ticket, flew to this region and spent some time with the experts, home cooks, at markets, ceremonies, kitchens, road side food stalls and cooked, wrote recipes and took lots and lots of photos.
All this would not have been possible without the full hearted support of my family and the teams in our restaurants.”
To photograph the beautiful landscapes he travels and the venues he visits, Heinz acquired a Cambo WRS system with a Phase One back. His favourite tool to document the dishes he creates is the Cambo Actus-G, which is paired with a Leica SL and Actar-90 lens. Complemented with Cambo’s adapter to enable the use of Mamiya RB/RZ lenses. “What I love most about the Actus and shooting food is the tilt and shift capabilities and with it the great DOF. Simply amazing. No need for photoshop. Yes the system is slow, but offers photography pure. Then again, when combined – as in my case – with a Leica SL2 body, it gives you total control over your picture.”
Heinz was introduced to the Cambo brand by Warren Kiong, owner of Primaimaging. A valued Cambo partner who has decades of experience in representing professional brands from his beautiful Jakarta based studio. As Heinz expresses his appreciation: “We are incredibly fortunate here in Indonesia to not only have a distributer of all Cambo products, but also an owner gentleman behind prima-imaging which does an amazing amount of extra work for the photographic community. Absolutely nothing is too much, and their fast expertise and know-how in high-end camera gear is extremely useful when questions or challenges arise.”
It seems appropriate to end with one of Heinz von Holzen’s recipes here. Thank you for sharing this with us Heinz.