The Best of the Best

The waves looked small at Sunset Beach, but the HIC Pro was in full swing. Sunset Beach is a break on the North Shore of Hawaii that’s notorious for big surf. The North Shore is called “The Proving Grounds” for a reason. It’s where the best of the best surfers flock to every winter to try and score big waves in hopes of putting themselves on the radar of potential sponsors. But from the beach the waves looked small as contestants paddled out.The Best of the Best competing at the HIC Pro

These guys are some of the best in the world, but according to the rankings they’re in the top 250 or so. They’re not the best in the world that are on the World Surf League’s tour. In order to qualify for that you have to be ranked in the top 32 and these guys are far from that.

It wasn’t until a set came through and one of the competitors dropped into a wave that I realized how big these waves were. They were well overhead and all these guys were surfing as if they’re the best of the best. Making every turn and barrell look flawless. As I sat there taking photos underneath the shade of a tree I couldn’t help but think that I could be out there doing the same thing. Deep down I knew I couldn’t and the waves would demolish me, but these guys made it look so effortless that I thought I could be out there surfing with them. I thought they were the best surfers in the world.

The announcer took over the mic and let the crowd know that surfing’s knewly crowned world champion, John John Florence, was heading towards Sunset Beach on his homecoming parade. The crowd, myself included, quickly gathered along the road to get a glimpse of John John Florence as he drove by.John John Florence at his homecoming parade

John John had just won the world title a week prior in portugal. He’s been chasing that world title for decades, since he was a little grom that charged Pipeline every winter with guys twice his size and three times his age. He came by in the back of a black pickup truck that his mom drove holding the Hawaiian flag high above his head.

He has this way of surfing that makes you think you can go Backdoor at Pipeline, get pitted so deep in the barrel, and get spit out to win the Volcom Pipe Pro in 2012. But chances are that if you or I or most anyone else on this planet tried to do that, we’d eat it hard and surface with the gnarliest reef rash ever seen. The again we probably wouldn’t be invited to compete in the first place.

Last weekend I got to camp in Connecticut with my friends Megan and Michael. They run this camp cooking blog called Fresh off the Grid. Take a look at their website and read over some their recipes. I’ll be the first to admit that they make it look easy. I can do some cooking, but I can never get my food to come out looking like theirs. These two are the best at what they do. Take a look behind the scenes and it’s not as easy as it looks.Fresh off the Grid shooting one of their recipes

Not only do they have to cook their food, but they also have to photograph the entire thing to make it look visually appealing and give us, the readers, an idea of what it should look like. I’ve been behind the scenes on some of their shoots and it’s insane to watch them in their element. But what I haven’t even seen is the recipe development.

Before they shoot a recipe that they’re going to feature on their blog, they make it themselves multiple times. If you’ve ever experimented with cooking you know that it’s trial and error. And for a couple that’s lived Sedan Life for the past 18, or so, months, that also means eating their mistakes.

As I was in the background photographing them at work, I felt like I was watching poetry in motion. They have everything figured out, knowing who’s doing what, and having the whole recipe memorized. They know exactly what shots they need to get and even know when the light is going to be best for the best looking photos.

Whether you want to believe it or not, all food bloggers have these pristine studios where they shoot. The lighting is always perfect and they always know where every piece of gear and all their utensils are sitting. Fresh off the Grid is a camp cooking blog and every shoot is different. They’re at the risk of the elements and if they’re on a deadline to shoot a recipe and it’s scheduled to snow, that means they might have to shoot the recipe with snow on the ground and the frigid air blowing and messing up their whole system.

Fresh off the Grid and all those guys competing at the HIC Pro are the best of the best in their own respects. We’ve come to believe that your stats have to be the best, you have to have the most (or least) amount of points to win, or make the most money to be considered the best. I don’t believe that. Whatever your craft is, make it look so easy that others think they can do it because you make it look so effortless.