Even with over a million #avocadotoast posts on Instagram, Manca Jevšče’s photos of the ever-trendy dish will make you drop everything and jump on the first flight to Ljubljana. The food photographer (aka @mrs.manca) is an advocate of food-orientated travel, confessing: “I decide my travels based on the food of the country. Food can tell us a lot about a country’s national character, its history, and its current developments. For me, a plate of noodles is just as breathtaking as a grand palace.”
If you’re wondering what to eat in Ljubljana, Jevšče’s Instagram will also give you a taste of the capital’s finest restaurants. She has worked with the country’s top chefs: Darja Končarevič from Bazilika, Slavko Žagar jr. from Skaručna, and most recently Janez Bratovź from Restaurant JB. With Bratovź, she collaborated on a cookbook which not only presents the inspiration and principles behind the chef’s cooking, but offers insight into Slovenia’s diverse landscapes and what they have to offer.
“Slovenia is labelled the ‘the heart and soul of beekeeping’ in Europe”
“One of the reasons I love photography is because it feeds my curiosity — by opening many doors and letting me go behind the scenes.” The photographer started her career after attending a documentary photography festival and then posting photos of her own cooking experiments. Her first paid shoot involved photographing an event for a construction company. Today, she brings her camera into the kitchens of Slovenia’s most sought-after chefs. Beyond her home country, her camera has taken her to far-flung places and given her exceptional, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities: “For one of the cookbooks I photographed, I was allowed to enter a closed monastery — the first woman in 10 years.”
She says the biggest misconception about food photography is that what’s on show tastes as good as it looks. For shoots, food is prepared so it appears ready to eat. “In reality, the vegetables are undercooked for more vibrant colours and shooting ice cream often means there is no ice cream present at all,” she reveals. There are always little tricks that will make food look more appetising: “Fruit is sprayed with glycerine for freshness, or brushed with oil for a juicy shine.”
Her Instagram is a delectable catalogue of healthy dishes, often made with very few ingredients and displayed on unusual ceramics. “Slovenia is labelled the ‘the heart and soul of beekeeping’ in Europe,” the photographer says of the ingredients that best encapsulate Slovenia. “We consume a lot of honey per capita. Tarragon and cottage cheese we use in our most traditional pastry called potica. Pumpkin seed oil is relatively unknown elsewhere but is a household staple here.”
Though food photography has become popular on Instagram, with tons of food photographers launching their careers thanks to social media, Jevšče still has a soft spot for cookbooks. “Books are my favourite projects because of the whole process,” she explains. “As a longterm project, it allows for more in-depth research and the development of an idea and story. Also, you get to collaborate and evolve the project with a team: writers, cooks, designers, and even illustrators.” Whether you’re craving a daily dose of mouth-watering inspiration or just love aesthetically-pleasing food snaps, @mrs.manca will provide you with satisfaction.