Derek Bissonnette is a commercial photographer specializing in food and beverage, an author and chef. Understanding how he got there, and the journey he has been on, is something he would like to share with us. From a job at the mom’s favorit bakery to a professional commercial photographer. This is his story!


Working in a bakery & attending cooking school

My career started when I was 16, In a Bakery in Searsport, Maine, Usa. At this time, In the Usa, I could get my driver’s license and loved the idea of freedom, so I purchased a car with a little money I earned and a small loan from my parents. After a few months, my mother… wasn’t happy with me not paying her in the terms that we agreed. So, one day, I came home and to my surprise she told me that she found me a job, at her favorite bakery and I started the following day at 4 AM. I was known in the family for making simple desserts, and she thought this would be a great opportunity for me. I instantly fell in love with it, and new straight away that this is what I wanted to do as a profession.

After several years at the bakery, I decided to attend cooking school. I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America with an associates degree in baking and pastry, in 2000. Unfortunately, as a poor college student, I had to go back to live with my parents until I could save enough money to live on my own. I worked a summer at a restaurant, called the Youngtown Inn, in Lincolnville, Maine for the summer. My chef didn’t really need my assistance throughout the winter, as it’s a very seasonal community, so he suggested I apply for a position at the White Barn Inn, in Kennebunk, Maine. At this time, the White Barn Inn was the only 5 Diamond Relais Chateaux restaurant north of New York City. I worked there for several years and was eventually promoted to the Pastry Chef.


Working at the Inn at Little Washington under Chef Patrick O’Connell

I then received an incredible opportunity to work at the Inn at Little Washington, in Washington Virginia, under Chef Patrick O’Connell. Michelin, just reviewed the Washington Dc area, and awarded them with the prestigious 2 Michelin Stars.



While working in Virginia, I got a phone call from a chef friend in England, and he offered me to come to Great Britain to work. It was a small Relais Chateaux in the southwest of England, called the Summer Lodge Country House Hotel. My work permit was originally for 2 years but ended up extending it to the maximum of 5 years. During this time, I really got a taste for savory cooking. Up til this point, most of my work was in Baking and Pastry. I loved the new adventure and absorbed as much as I could in the Savory kitchen

Upon the completion of my working Visa, I headed back to the USA and reconnected with my chef at the White Barn Inn, Jonathan Cartwright. We had a nice long conversation and mutually agreed for me to join the White Barn Inn Kitchen Team. With a few movements of prior chefs, I became the Sous Chef, within a few years the Chef de Cuisine and eventually after chef Cartwright decided to leave, became the Executive Chef.


Commercial photographer Derek & his new-found passion


After ten years of returned work at the white barn inn, I decided to step out of the kitchen and focus on my new-found passion of food photography. I quickly opened my business and started reaching out to local restaurants and hotels and was able to build a wonderful portfolio.

Recently I just wrote, cooked and photographed my very own cookbook, the ultimate soups and stews.. published by Cider Mill Press. We are currently in final design stages and it will be in print within the next few months. The cookbook is a 900-page cookbook, with 300 soup recipes from around the globe and a very educational tool. I spent a lot of time on the history of soups, techniques and ingredient/tool descriptions. I am very excited for it to come off the printers and share it with you.


Interested in working with commercial photographer Derek?


I am very excited to work with professional chefs to document their cuisine, participate in a cookbook or any projects that my work is suitable for. I am a chef myself, so I understand the movements of the chef, the time constraints you’re under and ultimately as excited about your food, just as much as you. I am happy to help a chef style their food, so it looks the best through the lens, or help take a younger chef to the next level. I can be reached at to discuss a project. Lets work together to make mouth watering images to draw in more customers into your restaurant. Great photography is an investment…