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吸烟的厨师  [Smoking Chefs]

In the noisy bustle of London’s West End, I have been looking for sanctuaries of quietness and contemplation. I found them in the back alleys and doorways of Chinatown.

At night, when the countless restaurants compete for tourists and theatregoers, throngs of visitors collide with Chinatown’s tight-knit ethnic community. By the time the restaurants open, some of the kitchen staff have already been working since early morning. Many of them are recent immigrants who speak little more than a few words of English. Some will have clocked more than 60 hours when the week is over.

They may not always be aware of my presence, yet I think of Smoking Chefs as kindred souls. I am sharing with them the few minutes it takes to smoke a cigarette, condensing this timespan into a single image. 

Just like the chefs have established a ritual of seeking out the same locations, following the same routine to escape the relentless demands of their work, I have created my own. Always trailing the same path along the streets and back alleys, I am capturing quiet moments we can all relate to.

Smoking Chefs book available here

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Jan Enkelmann is a London-based documentary, travel and street photographer. Recent projects include Serious Conviction, To the Races and Smoking Chefs.