Alexander Coggin debuts new series Cooking While Italian

(Image courtesy of London based photographer from Jenkintown, Alexander Coggin embarks on his new series Cooking While Italian showcasing his bold character and cooking style.

Alexander Coggin is a London based photographer who grew up nearby in Jenkintown, PA. His newest personal project Cooking While Italian showcases Coggin’s bold character and cooking style. The show draws on memories of his Italian family based in Philadelphia, recreating his grandmother’s cooking style with affection and a little bit of satire.

The series Cooking while Italian was born when the famous food stylist Iain Graham asked Alexander to collaborate with him. When the two met Coggin mentioned that he was raised in an Italian family on his mother’s side, saying he grew up with women who did Italian “really really well.”

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“My great grandmother, who was born in Italy, was especially great,” he explains, “her hands were always busy with some food, although she didn’t wear quite as much jewelry as we depicted.”After speaking to some friends with similar upbringings and joking about how “most Italian-American east coast women wouldn’t take their jewelry off for anything. Not for dish washing, not for making meatballs, not for gardening, nothing,” giving him the idea to recreate this world.

Alexander Cogggin wanted to pay homage to his grandmother and great grandmother, producing a product they could both be proud of. Alexander and Iain worked with Kate Cutler, a nail artist and set designer Emma Witter to bring the vision to life. “I wanted it to be a heightened-reality but definitely based in truthfulness,” he adds, explaining how Iain “was really game for that”. In fact, “when [Alexander] mentioned a sheet cake with American and Italian flags,” Iain didn’t bat an eyelid.

While the series is sometimes over the top and hyper-real, Coggin reflected on the time his family moved back to Philadelphia and lived with his grandmother and great grandmother. “Everything in that house revolved around food and mealtime and sitting down together. The house smelled amazing because she was constantly cooking. There were always leftovers. She used to say that if there weren’t leftovers then you didn’t make enough. So it’s directly inspired by that time, for sure,” said Alexander.

The shows characters are based on the larger than life family Coggin grew up with mixed with many other people he grew up around: “smokers, aunts, divas and chefs.” Alexander pulls ideas from his own and his friends memories, perfectly balancing humor and affection for his family traditions.

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