Photo by Craig T. Kojima
Aki "Frankee" Noguchi was an eternal sweetheart during a photo shoot last week at the beautiful Papahana Kuaola in Heeia, for a food story on kalo. What better way to convey the virtues of kalo than with a healthy, happy baby eating her kalo pop? We were able to indulge the modeling talent of Frankee thanks to the generosity of her mother, Amanda Corby Noguchi, who made the poi pops Frankee enjoyed and took the time to drive her daughter to the picturesque site.
When feature writers produce a story, part of the deal is figuring out how to best illustrate what we're writing about. Sometimes we ask staff artists to create a drawing or graphic, but most of the time our photographers do the job.
Often, our plans require help outside the newsroom staff. As my friend Amanda Corby Noguchi says, "Sometimes it takes a village."
Case in point: For my story tomorrow on the many ways to cook kalo, Crave editor Betty Shimabukuro and I were pondering the best way to illustrate the topic. Much of the images in Crave are food shots — these are sure to draw interest — but kalo, while delicious, doesn't necessarily produce the most colorful dishes. What I knew I had were recipes for a banana bread using kalo flour and a kalo baby biscuit.
Now, Betty is gifted at thinking up great ideas on a whim.
"My dream shot is to have a baby eating a kalo biscuit while sitting under a tall kalo plant," she said, then laughed at the seeming outrageousness of her idea. Betty designs many of the pages for Crave.
Hmmmm. I didn't necessarily think it was pie-in-the-sky. There are kalo farms all over the place, with generous farmers always ready to lend a hand.
And I knew just the mommy to ask about lending us her baby.
Amanda runs and owns Pili Group with her husband, chef Mark Noguchi, and the couple produce the cutest babies — preschooler Elee (Eleanor) and 10-month-old Frankee (aka Aki), the baby I was thinking of.
Amanda, always helpful, was quick to say yes.
Also quick to lend a hand was Kapaliku Schirman of Papahana Kuaola, a gorgeous 63-acre site in Heeia that provides educational environmental programs using Hawaiian cultural knowledge. The site is rife with gorgeous loi and thriving kalo plants.
We were all set.
Then the kalo biscuit recipe fell through — and with it, our dream shot. Or so we thought.
"How about we use my poi smoothie pops instead?" Amanda suggested breezily in the midst of my freak-out. "I can whip some up and bring them to the shoot. Frankee LOVES them."
True to her mother's word, Frankee did love them. In fact, she went through three pops like nobody's business. All while being the cutest, sweetest, most agreeable baby I've ever met. She even smiled on cue.
Throughout the shoot, Kainoa Pestana of Papahana Kuaola helped us along, from picking just the right kalo, which Frankee sat under contently, to propping up leaves just so, while photographer Craig Kojima snapped away with his camera.
Needless to say, the shots were beautiful. Or as Betty said, they're some of the cutest shots in the history of food covers.
There's honestly no way to convey the deep gratitude I have for everyone who helped us pull this off, from superwoman Amanda and baby Frankee, whom I'm completely enamored of, to Kapaliku and Kainoa, both gracious and kind.
Please take a look at Crave tomorrow. When you pick it up, you'll fall for Frankee, too. (And don't forget to turn the page and read the story.)