It's not every day that we meet someone who is a Professional Photographer, a Personal Trainer, and just happens to dabble in cooking as a trained Professional Chef.
Benjamin Brignola has been able to effectively marry his professional skills together into a successful business that services everyone from your average Joe (or Jane), to the Professional Athlete.
He's got a pretty impressive social media footprint, so you can definitely follow him on any of his accounts here:
Although his primary focus these days is in Fitness Photography, with such a diverse professional background, we just HAD to learn more about Chef Benjamin Brignola and introduce him to all of you.
EC: Hi Benjamin! We're so excited to learn more about you. Let's start by having you tell us a little bit about yourself.
BB: My name is Benjamin Brignola, I am 38 yrs old, I grew up in Easton PA, Moved to San Francisco in 2010 then moved to Dallas in 2013. I am a Professional Chef. I have been cooking for close to 20 years. I'm a Professional Freelance Fitness Photographer, a Certified Personal Trainer and I'm also a Managing Director with IDLife
EC: You have a very unique combination of skills in fitness, cooking and photography. Tell us how you were able to successfully marry your skills in your current professional career.
BB: While I was in Culinary School, I started working as a Personal Trainer. Throughout the years I always kept my fitness training up to date. I would use my knowledge as a Chef to help my clients understand healthy cooking. Photography came into play about 6 years ago as a hobby. I grew up in a family where we would develop film on our basement. My Father, Dominic Brignola Jr. did Photography on the side as well. When I moved to Dallas, I decided I wanted to do this full time but as I found out, things do take time and I still cook for private clients.
EC: Why did you initially pursue a career as a Chef?
BB: I started young, cooking at home with my family. When I graduated from High School, I started bartending and cooking at a bar in Easton. When I went to college I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I worked in restaurants while in college for extra money. I loved cooking and the feeling of family while on the line, so I decided to get my Hotel Restaurant and Institutional Management Degree from Penn State and then ultimately go to The Art Institute of Philadelphia for my Associates in Culinary Arts.
EC: Whats the reason you pivoted and focused on Photography and/or Personal Training instead?
BB: I decided to move my focus to photography because I just needed a break from the restaurant life. I love working with people and I found I was pretty good at photography.
EC: What foods will you absolutely not eat?
BB: There are some Asian delicacies I wouldn’t eat. They eat some crazy things.
EC: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
BB: Well, I hope I’m married but only God know’s that. Career wise, I will be one of the top photographers in the country for Fitness. I will also be on air teaching healthy cooking. 10 years, I will almost be 50 years old. Oh wow that’s crazy to think about. Have a family.
EC: What is your favorite cheat meal?
BB: Hmm My favorite meal is PBJ. Natural PB or Almond Butter, fresh blueberries, raspberries and strawberries topped with raw honey on Cinnamon Raisin Bread. And I love Breakfast foods. Pancakes with Coconut oil and agave blueberry syrup.
EC: What is one of your proudest achievements as a Chef?
BB: I auditioned for Hells Kitchen. Made it to the second round of auditions. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough drama in my life for TV. I also was told in my interview that I was the only one in the casting class who answered all the food related questions correctly. At least I know I was smarter than the one who won.
EC: What is one of your proudest achievements as a Photographer?
EC: If you could meet anyone in history, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
BB: My Grandfather Brignola. He was a brilliant inventor with a 7th grade education but as he got older, he got Alzheimer's and I was only 6 years old. So I never really had time to spend with him getting to know him. I would ask him all about his life.
EC: f you could describe your life with one song. What song would it be and why?
BB: Don’t Stop Believing by Journey. I would say this song, because my life hasn’t been easy, yet I have never lost hope and faith.
EC: Why did you decide to choose a career in physical fitness?
BB: I love working with people, seeing them grow, find confidence and excel in life.
EC: What restaurant are you most excited to dine at?
BB: That’s a tough question. I would say Belotti Ristorante e Bottega because Chef Michelle Belotti is an amazing young Chef who showcases true Italian ingredients which shine on their own. His food is amazing.
EC: What is one thing on your bucket list?
BB: Tour Europe for a year trying all of the amazing restaurants.
EC: What is your go-to beverage of choice when you are at a bar?
BB: Vodka and fresh grapefruit because it’s the only way I can Drink vodka.
EC: What do you like to do for fun when you’re not cooking,working out, or at a shoot?
BB: I love movies, spending time with my family, serving at my church and growing my IDLife business.
EC: What advice would you give anyone that is looking to pursue a career as a chef, a personal trainer, or a photographer?
BB: For a Chef, take the money you will spend on Culinary school and go over to Italy, Spain, Portugal, etc. and stage at some of the best restaurants. For a trainer, learn as much as you can. Use your common sense with working with clients. For photography, be original, be unique.