Thank goodness this is our alcohol issue because I need a drink. That’s because our longtime photo editor, Michael Harlan Turkell, is moving on. He’s long juggled multiple projects, including shooting cookbooks aplenty, and has decided to pursue them full time. I’ll admit that at moments we’ve been like squash-seed oil and barrel-aged vinegar, but he’s always been a killer colleague and, man, I’m gonna miss him. MHT—as we call him—isn’t just crazy capable with a camera and pointedly professional.
He’s also better connected than just about anyone I’ve ever met. Each time I discover something, anything, MHT’s already all over it. Spleen sandwiches? He’s been eating them for years. An unmarked eatery in Sheepshead Bay? He knows the owners. Sixpoint’s delectable brew called Mason’s Black Wheat? It’s named after his cat. I don’t know what I’m going to do without this human database on staff, a living litmus test of what’s legit. Take this issue. When I asked him to please get pics of Royal Rose Syrups, he replied, “Love their Autumn Plum right now.” (I hadn’t tasted it.)
When I said we’d need to shoot Coluccio’s out in Bensonhurst, he wrote right back, “Love that place and its Colavolpe figs.” (I had to Google the fruit.)
Other stories sprang straight from his brain. The wish-I’d-been-there Bushwick pig roast piece is entirely thanks to an MHT invitation. And only after hearing tracks from the awesome new Recipe Project album did I learn that MHT contributed a recipe—as did Tom Colicchio and David Chang.
(Our feature on eco-importer Jenny & Francois didn’t come from an MHT tip but it might as well have. When Megan Krigbaum, his longtime girlfriend and an editor at Food & Wine, profiled iCi for us back in 2007, I tried to edit out her reference to the wine wholesaler, whom I hadn’t heard of. But Megan schooled me, saying such a small, special outfit and its funky, organic bottles belonged in the story—how right she was.)
But in each issue, MHT’s baby has been the “Back of the House” department, which began as a photo essay on Applewood five years ago and for which he often shoots for eight straight hours, many on his knees. This one, a behind-the-scenes look at Clover Club, could become a collector’s item.
Making the magazine without him is not going to be the same. We haven’t always seen eye to eye, but I echo the emotions of one of our contributors. When MHT announced his departure on Facebook, she simply commented, “sob.”
So pardon me while I down a few of those drinks on the cover, which of course are courtesy of MHT’s camera. Our designer pointed out its beautiful composition, reminiscent of the yin-yang, in which two complementary opposites interact within a greater whole. I’ll drink to that.
Here’s to you, MHT. Cheers!