Chef Chuck George Turns MREs into Michelin Plates

Photographer Henry Hargreaves and videographer Jimmy Pham capture Army meals being plated as if they were served at top restaurants

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s hard to deny the impact of food styling on our perception of a meal. The barebones packaging of MREs (military-issued meals, ready to eat) tends to indicate that what you’ll find within is nothing more than essential. But when NYC-based chef Chuck George began plating them as if they were dishes from Michelin-starred restaurants, viewers can’t help but reconsider first impressions. George grew up the son of a serviceman and had plenty of exposure to MREs. As a professional chef, he wondered what it would be like to offer the individual components the same sort of reverential treatment one would find at the world’s best dining establishments. And a project was born.

George partnered with videographer Jimmy Pham and CH favorite photographer Henry Hargreaves for the endeavor. Food styling and photography is no easy task, but both capture the cleverness of George’s mission—and accomplish more along the way. As all three sourced MREs from armies across the globe, they were able to place into contrast how different military organizations feed their troops, and perhaps ascertain the value countries attribute to the health of their soldiers. Altogether though, it’s a visually stunning exploration.

Video by Jimmy Pham, photos courtesy of Henry Hargreaves