We introduce a new approach to the modelling of the light distribution of galaxies, an orthonormal polar base formed by a combination of Chebyshev rational functions and Fourier polynomials that we call CHEF functions, or CHEFs. We have developed an orthonormalization process to apply this basis to pixelized images, and implemented the method as a Python pipeline. The new basis displays remarkable flexibility, being able to accurately fit all kinds of galaxy shapes, including irregulars, spirals, ellipticals, highly compact and highly elongated galaxies. It does this while using fewer components that similar methods, as shapelets, and without producing artifacts, due to the efficiency of the rational Chebyshev polynomials to fit quickly decaying functions like galaxy profiles. The method is lineal and very stable, and therefore capable of processing large numbers of galaxies in a fast and automated way. Due to the high quality of the fits in the central parts of the galaxies, and the efficiency of the CHEF basis modeling galaxy profiles up to very large distances, the method provides highly accurate estimates of total galaxy fluxes and ellipticities. Future papers will explore in more detail the application of the method to perform multiband photometry, morphological classification and weak shear measurements.Comment: 16 pages, 21 figures, submitted to Ap
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