Boston, Massachusetts

By Dominick Reuter

I should probably lead by saying this was NOT my idea.

I was checking in with the Reuters picture desk in Toronto about some of my images when an editor asked if I would be interested in a meal “courtesy of the Baron” (our affectionate term for Reuters).

The non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) had just announced the winners of their 2014 “Xtreme Eating” awards, in which they single out chain restaurant menu items with unbelievably high levels of calories, saturated fats, sugars and salts. The businesses named included the Cheesecake Factory and Red Robin.

Our plan was to photograph these specific dishes, try them, pay and go. More succinctly, I’d shoot, eat, and leave.

Two women walk past The Cheescake Factory restaurant in Braintree, Massachusetts July 30, 2014.    REUTERS/Dominick Reuter

First up was the Cheesecake Factory. There was one nearby in Boston and it was lunchtime, so I invited a colleague who might offer a second opinion during my first foray as an impromptu food critic. The friendly staff accommodated my request to sit close to a window for better light.

We located the items mentioned in the CSPI report and found the French Toast options were only available on Sundays, leaving us with the Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic (2,410 calories) and the Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake (1,500 calories). Suddenly this adventure looked manageable.