We had the good fortune of connecting with Eliot Lee Hazel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eliot Lee, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
School, grammar and math where never my friend. I got along much better with pots and pans, and eventually a camera, which explains why I took the route of being a chef and then a photographer.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I never really saw my work as Art nor did I really see myself as an Artist. Being creative started at an early age because I didn’t find anything else interesting enough to keep my attention. As a kid, I really did not like school or any form of “being told what to do”, …if everyone went left I would go right. When a teacher would ask me, “Eliot Why are you going right?” I would answer “Why not?” Being a teenager and going to school was like prison to me, I truly liked nothing about it, of course having serious ADHD did’t help.
When I discovered cooking everything kinda fell into place. I finally found something I loved doing that didn’t bore me, and in fact turned into a life long fascination for me.
As the story goes …I slowly worked my way up from being a dishwasher to cooking in Michelin star restaurants to cooking for the Queen, this was several decades ago when chefs / cooks where not considered Artists by the main stream, these days I think it speaks for itself that a chef is an artist, most chefs I’ve come to know over the years are very intense creatures, in a sense you have to be crazy to be able to work those long “under pressure” hours without loosing your mind.
I never thought of being a photographer until photography came knocking on my door. It kinda happened over night. Lionel Deluy, a photographer and now close friend, saw some random images I had taken and gave me my first camera. He told me, “Eliot you have an eye & view of the world that is different from many so stop whatever ya doing and be a photographer.”
To me photography and cooking are both Art forms, both (often) pleasing to the eye & soul, I guess the real difference is that eating is a necessity and photography is not. Photography can “touch” the soul while cooking “feeds” the soul…at least that’s my humble opinion.
The lessons I’ve learned over the years are many…remembering though is the most difficult part, I guess the most important one is to remain humble and stay openminded.
What makes great Art or what makes a great artist is not something I give much attention to, to me Art is simply a way of expressing oneself without one always being aware of its expression. I don’t believe that one needs training to be an artist or follow any rules, sure training / education might make you a better artist but it can also make you loose track of what “you” are about.
What would you like the world to know about your story?
I’m a complicated simple man.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I myself don’t leave my house much these days so I’m not really up to date with all the local spots, Cafe Trails, it’s one of my favorite spots in LA, it’s a hidden little cafe in the middle of trees and nature.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I like to give a shout out to my folks and brother who have always supported me, me often being a pain in the ass kid to raise, getting in trouble more then often and going against the grain , nothing much has changed besides that I’m a few decades older.
I like to give a shout out to an angel / musician / artist Petite Meller for teaching me that a gentleman should never ask a ladies age.
I like to give a shout out to my agency ‘Probation’ for always being like supporting family to me.
I like to give a shout out to Love & Kindness …the 2 things that really matter in life, a cheers to that.
A shout out to “all and everyone” who let me take their picture.