Food Styling & Photography Workshop March 28th - April 1st 2017 in Charleston, SC.

February 2, 2017

Carrots-2 Everytime I do workshops, I get inspired by the people who come to attend the creative space we put together for them. The one I taught last week was no exception and as soon as we wrapped on a week of shooting and good eating, I texted my bestie, professional food stylist Tami Hardeman, to see if the was available to do another with me. See, we always try to carve out some time in the year to get together and shoot. She food styles, we compose, I shoot. It’s a time for us to challenge ourselves but also create together. We nourish both our souls and our bodies.

And when she said “yes”, she just about made my day. We both have busy schedules that don’t often match so finding a week to be together and share with others what we know and love is important to us. “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” Confucius said. And we believe that.

She is an amazing food stylist, with great art directorial skills in my opinion, and she always makes me a better photographer. My goal when we are on set is to push my own creativity and skills to show off hers.

So, that’s why I am excited to announce that we are holding a creative food styling and photography workshop March 28th-April 1st in Charleston, SC. (registration open HERE)

During the three days of workshop (first and last day being your travel days), we will do lots of hands on demos showing you our process and guiding you through your own mini photoshoots. While we like to shoot “pretty foods”, we also know the challenges faced by many of you trying to shoot “brown foods” or “flat foods” and will guide you through those challenges. She will share her best tips and techniques about food styling and I will share mine about choosing the right lens for the food, how to work the light to your advantage, working camera angles and settings. Together we will talk you through picking the best props and composition to showcase your food.

We aim to create a collaborative environment where you are free to expand upon your usual repertoire or dig deeper into the vibe you like. While we love to push ourselves beyond our own comfort zone, we also want to foster the style and mood you like or help you get happy venturing out to new territory. We will provide you with the tools and knowledge to do over three fun and energizing days.

Because we believe in the beauty of imperfections, we will show you how to create real life images not perfect ones, images that let the food shine and help you tell a story. If you have taken workshops with me before, this one is the perfect extension to those. A workshop v2 if you like. If this is the first time you are considering a workshop with us, fear not, we will take every hands on demo from a to z as far as process goes and make “rounds” when you are shooting to offer help and guidance. Oh and we are planning a photoshoot on the beach where we hope to have everyone contributing their own creativity. (the house we will be staying in as a group is just a few steps from the ocean).
Follow this link for the registration page.

Here are the details:
3 days of photography, composition, food styling hands on demo and photoshoots with our guidance and help March 28th - April 1st (March 28th being your arrival day and April 1st being your departure day)
4 nights accommodations on the beach of Isle Of Palms
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners
Refreshments and snacks
Fee is $1875, early bird registration through February 28th, then $2100 (does not include travel fares to and from workshop)
Most rooms are shared - there is opportunity for single rooms on a first sign up basis
Workshop is limited to 8 people.
There will be no refunds for this workshop – please know you can attend before registering.

A weekend in Columbia, South Carolina...or 72 hours of great food and culture!

January 17, 2017

Back in late November (Halloween weekend actually), I traveled to Columbia, South Carolina, on assignment for Garden&Gun magazine and the Columbia Midlands Authority for 72 hours to explore and venture around the city for their upcoming feature in this month's issue. It was a packed trip of food and cultural outings but I had the best partner in crime. My husband. Sending a French to the state capital is one thing, but armed with her best weapon, a Charleston born and bred husband who attended college there and whose great grand father was governor of South Carolina and thus resided in the Capital, was probably the most fun way to explore a city. Lots of walking around, driving around, eating everything and asking all the questions...

Spotted Salamander
We got to Columbia on time for a late lunch at The Spotted Salamander in the historic district. Sweet little spot with an extra outdoor space and friendly staff. Missed their renowned deviled eggs as they were not making them that weekend but everything else we ordered (crisp pork belly salad and the hot turkey sandwich) was spot on.
Hampton-Preston House
I am more of a nibbler/grazer than a sit down lunch or dinner gal so after what felt to me like a bigger meal than I do most days, we decided to walk the historic district and hopefully catch up on a house visit before they'd close for the day. We got right on time to catch up the last guided tour of the Hampton Preston House and stole a few extra moments walking the grounds before heading back to our hotel (perfectly located to boot...)
Dinner was at The Warmouth. A cool little place located in a revamped car garage. It was warm enough to sit on the back patio which was nice and quiet. While I've had many a cheese and charcuterie boards in my life, I remain attracted to those boasting house made cured meats and terrines. The Warmouth charcuterie board was served with various pickles and mustard. The pickled pineapple was a revelation. Must duplicate soon!
The bustle outside and inside of Bourbon on Main street lured us in for a nightcap and satisfied our thirst for a couple of cocktails and bourbons and some chit chat at the bar with other patrons.
Their bourbon list is extensive and the cocktails creative. It also serves a late food/nibbles menu.
The Wired Goat
Our Saturday started at The Wired Goat Cafe. Really cool breakfast place offering a wide variety of coffees and coffee drinks, breakfast sandwiches and waffles. Come early because the line can get quite long as it is a favorite with the locals. Don't miss the oak smoked sea salt and honey latte. I still have dreams about it. All their breads and baked goods are made on the premises daily which is definitely a plus in my book.
If you've have been following me for a while you know how much I love farmers market. Nothing better to get the beat of a city. The Soda City Market that occupies much of Main street on Saturdays is a great mix of artists, food vendors and farmers. Lots of food trucks and plenty of street music at every corner.

Museum Of Art
To break away from the bustle of the market, we crossed the street and headed inside the Columbia Museum of Art. The permanent exhibit is really well aid out and offers way more than just a glimpse into the history of the arts. I didn't expect to see so much and we ended staying a good couple of hours. By the time we were done, a faint rumbling could be heard in our stomachs. Time to eat again...!
Museum Of Art

Southern Belly_3
I don't know what it is with French peeps and barbecue but we love it. And can't get enough of it. So I was really looking forward to our lunch stop at Southern Belly. While the inside is cozy and funky at the same time, we couldn't resist grabbing a table outside on such a gorgeous day. We got two of their famous sandwiches, the Django and the Castro and devoured them with reckless abandon. A part of my brain wanted to order a couple more "for the road" but it wasn't time to head back to Charleston quite yet..
Southern Belly_2
We drove around town a bit and even caught the USC marching band rehearsing before their game that evening. Back in the 70s my husband was in the same marching band so it was a really cool trip down memory lane. Just from the look in his eyes, I knew that one little moment had made the entire trip for him. I mean, tagging along with a photographer on an eating and cultural discovery mission is nice but sometimes disjointed for him!
State Museum
From our hotel, we walked down to the State Museum which we had both visited before a few times but there were a couple of things we wanted to see. I really wanted to give a long at their new telescopes exhibit and hopefully catch a glimpse of the skies through their major one and my husband wanted to see the Anderson car that was built to rival (never did but what a beauty!) the Ford back in the days and designed and built in South Carolina by a family member. The museum gives a thorough history of the South throughout the years, and f you have kids, there are tons of various exhibits and activities for them.
Motor Supply Company
A quick nap at the hotel and we were magically hungry again! Our next stop was walking distance from the hotel on Gervais street, The Motor Supply Company. What an evening! Josh, the bartender is a master at his craft, truly. We started with one of the cocktails on the menu and soon we were talking about old fashioned drinks, the resurgence of vermouth based cocktails and before we knew it, we had a couple more before our meal. And a couple afterwards. Good thing we only had to cross the street back to our room!! The menu is inventive, changing daily and offering many choices for all palates. We settled for a couple of apps and dove straight to the mains. The fish that evening was quite spectacular. The staff was attentive and knowledgeable navigating perfectly between locals and tourists.
Motor Supply Company

Motor Supply Company

Motor Supply Company
You know me, I can't help but going to the back of the house, the heart of it all, the kitchen to catch a few pic of the chefs in action. They indulged me in their (always) small space and were really nice to let me snap a few shots while int he middle of a busy dinner service.
Rising and shining on Sunday was a tad slow but we had been told of the perfect antidote to a late night by visiting Rise Gourmet Bakeshop. I have long been an admirer of chef Sara Simmons who happened to be on the premises that morning at the same time we were. After a few "oh I follow you on Instagram!" "Me too!", we dove right in on our sausage and grits and breakfast sandwich. Feeling I needed something a bit healthy to balance out all the foods consumed so far, I also got their yogurt and granola. I still dream about it. Smooth, silky with a layer of perfectly tart lemon curd. Doesn't take much to make my day and this hit the stop. We also sampled (and took home) some of their other goodies. Couldn't possibly eat it all in one sitting. Needed some for the road back home, right?!!  

At last, it was time to head back to Charleston but first, we made a pit stop at the Congaree national park on the way home. While some trails were closed because of the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, many remained accessible wand we ended up doing a 5 mile loop around the park. How we wished we had had the dogs with us. They would have been in heaven! 

 The last time I had been in Columbia for more than a few hours was back in the 90s and while we drove through the town to visit family upstate or on our many back and forth to Birmingham a couple of years ago, neither of us had taken the time to be tourist in the town. For my husband it was nice to get back to his college grounds and show me around where his great grandfather would have resided, worked or walked. Being the food person that I am, I was really impressed by the care and dedication of the establishments we visited. Not to mention the quality of the food. If you ever travel through the state of South Carolina, I hope you will carve out a few hours to visit Columbia. You won't be disappointed.

An All Things Food Related Workshop that you can think about!! January 23rd-28th 2017!

December 12, 2016

Feels almost like giving you guys an early Christmas present! I'm quite excited to announce this upcoming comprehensive foodie workshop in Charleston SC, January 23rd-28th 2017. Nothing like what we've done before! 

We'll share with you all the food related topics we can think about and that you may ask! Lots of casual Q&As by the fire and lots of demos. Food photo & styling, social media content, recipe developing & cookbook writing, hands on cooking demos with local chef John Ondo and our special guest Gina Homolka from Skinnytaste! So so excited!

The workshop is for all level, whether you are a blogger, photographer, recipe developer, foodie, working from home, or someone who just wants to broaden their horizon with like minded people in a relaxed atmosphere over hands on cooking classes, practical hands on food photography & styling demos, and casual Q&As by the fireplace where no topic is off limit.

Registration page HERE. 

We are thrilled to bring you such a wide variety of topics photo and cooking related: 
Understanding your equipments and how to choose the right tools and settings for the job. ISO, focal length, aperture. 
How to understand and utilize light no matter what you are shooting. 
Shooting darker, moodier images and bright lighter ones and the do’s and dont’s of each to achieve great results. 
Hands on demos of food and prop styling for recipe shoots or for gatherings. 
Photo for Instagram, Facebook or other social media content, shooting with a smart phone, use of filters 
Developing your brand/voice, social media and working with brands. Networking, sponsors, hashtags, groups, etc.. 
Developing original recipe and writing a cookbook 
pantry and equipment essentials 
Sourcing ingredients 
Cooking demos where John Ondo will share a few of his favorite Mediterranean influenced recipes 
Cooking demos where Gina will share some of her favorite Skinnystate recipes

All this right by the ocean. Which is a gorgeous place to be this time of year…

Note that the workshop is limited to 8 attendees so we can devote all our time and knowledge in a casual setting to the group.

Arrival day is January 23 by 4-5pm when we will start by a casual meet & greet at the beach home, followed by dinner prepared by Chef Ondo. Attendees will have an afternoon free to wander about Charleston get some personal work done or just chill. A trip to the docks to get fresh fish and a visit to a favorite antique store are also on the itinerary. Departure day is January 28th by 11am.

Registration is open HERE.

The workshop includes: 
All workshop sessions 
full accommodation 
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Refreshments and snacks 
Most rooms are shared - there is opportunity for single rooms on a first sign up basis
Workshop is limited to 8 people. 
Fee is $1875 (does not include travel fares to and from workshop) 
There will be no refunds for this workshop – please know you can attend before registering. Full payment due at time of registration, no deposit required.


DBO Home Tastemakers' Table

December 1, 2016

Cranberry Pomegranate Baked Brie
Like most photographers, I "met" Dana Brandwein and Daniel Oates through the prop stylists I've worked with along the years. As a lover of beautiful props myself, I instantly found myself drawn to their line of ceramics, DBO Home.

Cranberry Pomegranate Baked Brie
The funny thing is that on a photoshoot, we use plates and dishes for the photos, carefully clean them and put them away. We rarely eat from them. For some rare, one of a kind pieces, that makes sense. But not so for DBO Home's ceramics. I realized over the last few years working with them on sets that these were not only unique, handmade pieces but also functional and gorgeous on any tablescape. In any occasion. 

So when Dana emailed and asked if I were interested in doing a photoshoot with some of their pieces for their Tastemakers' Table feature on their site, it was basically a no brainer!
Table Dbo
I already had in mind the pieces and color palette I would love to work with. I picked dinner plates, platter and cheese board from their Burl series and mixed them with the delicate look of their Kashmir collection. A perfect balance of strong masculine dark grey with creamy accents of light blush and soft grey flowers. The color palette alone makes me happy. Seeing the pieces work together is completely thrilling.
Creamy Parsnip Soup
I asked my friend and prop stylist Angela Hall to create a table around those pieces and left it completely to her to pick what she thought would make an inviting Friendsgiving table of sort. What she came up with made me giddy the first time she showed me. When we put it all together in my backyard, it simply looked amazing. Decked out, yet inviting. Much like DBO Home ceramics. You may feel like they are too pretty to eat from but trust me, they are strong and feel so good and practical in your hands. 

We gathered our favorite peeps around a holiday orientated menu and had a fantastic time enjoying the work that Dana and Daniel put into each of their pieces. Because they are handmade, each is a bit unique, slightly different from the rest. Shapes are irregular, details are strong. Much like everyday life. And I won't be waiting for another big dinner to use them again! 

You can see the pieces as sets and more photos from the table on the DBO Home site. They would make great additions to any table, any time of the year!
Creamy Parsnip Soup
If you are interested in what we cooked and enjoyed that evening here is the menu with links to the recipes. 
Appetizer: Cranberry Pomegranate Baked Brie from my friend Liren at Kitchen Confidante 
First Course: Creamy Parsnip Soup With Pear and Walnuts from Marcus Samuelsson (minus the sun chokes)
Main Course: Porchetta Spiced Turkey, Gaby's insane wild mushroom stuffing and a salad with roasted acorn squash, blue cheese and pecans with a coriander seed vinaigrette that I made up in my head.
Dessert: Cardamom Poached Pears with Mascarpone cream (similar to this)


Food Styling & Photo Workshop in Tuscany, Italy!! September 27th - October 1st.

June 9, 2016

Bichi Borghesi-11-5
I am so excited to share with you this upcoming workshop I have been working on! Tuscany baby....!!!!!!!! !
I am teaming up with Giulia Scarpaleggia, the force behind the Italian blog Jul’s Kitchen for a workshop in Tuscany, Italy at the gorgeous Tenuta Bichi Borghesi in Scorgiano, September 27th - October 1st.

The registration page is HERE :)

Bichi Borghesi-3-1
The 3 day workshop will be geared toward food, prop styling, photography, cooking demos and lots of hands on practice. I will focus on my photo, composition & styling processes, from basics natural light manipulations to more advanced ones. Each day will be filled with lots of practice, demos and guidance.

We will also have the chance to explore the best of the area with dinner in Sienna, visit of a cheese farm, wine tasting and a trip to the local market. Giulia will also host the group at her studio kitchen for a fun cooking class using fresh local ingredients. 

Together, they will guide you to create an edible narrative with your photos, and share current food styling and propping trends, etc...

Nothing is off limits with questions, from how to pick ingredients, how to cook them, how to manage your cooking/photo time efficiently, knowing about photography for blogging or professional work, cooking for photography, photo as a hobby or how to get started in the business.
 All this in gorgeous Tuscany….

Bichi Borghesi-9-1
The group will stay at the beautiful Tenuta Bichi Borghesi estate, located 1 hour outside of Florence in three charming cottages around the property, September 27th - October 1st 2016. The cottages have a mix of single or double occupancy rooms which are available upon request on a first come, first serve basis. Perfect options whether you are a light sleeper or you want to come with a friend and share a room to catch up!

Bichi Borghesi-5-3

September 27th: Arrival day 
Welcome Meet & Greet and dinner at Tenuta Bichi Borghese

September 28th:
Morning: Hands on food styling, composition and photography demo. I will discuss my approach to a photo shoot and how to create a specific mood and feel to tell a story. I will cover selecting ingredients, props, composition, as well as choosing the best lens and angle for a specific recipe/item. Understanding and manipulating light and shadows.
Individual practice to follow, with my guidance.

Afternoon: Hands on food styling and photography demo.
Another demo led with me and getting more specific with defining and creating a style and a mood for either editorial, brand or blogging work. Basic art guidelines will be covered and put into practice. Individual practice to follow, with my guidance.

Late afternoon tasting of local produce (olive oil, wine, charcuterie)
Dinner in Sienna

September 29th:
Morning: Shooting on location - food photojournalism
Visit of a cheese farm nearby - we’ll get the chance to learn about the cheeses made in the are as well as see cheese made that day. I will cover the basis of shooting on location such as what camera gear to pack, how to handle light in unknown situations, etc…

Afternoon: Hands on styling and photo session. I will cover food and prop styling 101 for editorial and blog work. I will also talk about the business side of food photography for those who are eager to make that leap from hobby to full time food photography.
Students will work on creating a vignette of their choice (picnic, mini location set up, tabletop, studio work,…) with my guidance.

Pizza dinner at Jul’s kitchen studio nearby.

September 30th:
Morning: Market visit in Colle val d’Elsa, shopping for fresh and local ingredients followed by a cooking class at Juls' Kitchen.

Afternoon: Critique and review: students will present a few of their favorite shots and will have one on one guidance/comments within the camaraderie of the group so that everyone can benefit from tips and techniques shared.

Farewell dinner at the Villa

October 1st: Travel day.

To register, head over ---> HERE

Workshop includes:
3 days of hands on practice photo workshop
4 nights in a cottage at Tenuta Bichi Borghese
All meals, snacks and refreshments
Transportation to workshop activities (cheese farm, Juls’ Kitchen, Market, etc…)
Airport shuttle pick up (specific time tbd) from Florence and/or Pisa airport.
Workshop is limited to 8 people.

Fee is $1875 (does not include airfare to Italy)

There will be no refunds for this workshop – please know you can attend before registering. Full payment due at time of registration, no deposit required. Schedule subject to change (mainly due to possible weather changes!)

All photos courtesy of Giulia Scarpaleggia.

Rhubarb Tart With Cashew Frangipane

April 21, 2016

Rhubarb Pie
Workshop update: there are 3 spots available in the workshop I am teaching May 16-20th in Charleston. Right on the beach, with lots of hands on demos, practice times, all around great food and meals! All details HERE.

I know better than to stock the fridge before a photoshoot but I could not resist the Spring produce in front of me at the market. I loaded up. Greens, radishes, okra, lettuces, herbs, rhubarb, eggs, milk, etc... I got worried on my way home that my food stylist would have a fit with that much valuable real estate taken up for her own groceries. On the other hand I know that if one eats as many vegetables as we do, the volume/space occupied in the fridge seems to be gone in a matter of a couple of days anyway.

I almost panicked when I thought the rhubarb was lost in the deep dark spaces of the refrigerator, somehow fighting its way between the baby radishes and cherry tomatoes. As soon as rhubarb appears at the store I stock up, load up and cook up. It's probably one of my favorite things. It reminds me so much of home. My mom used to cook big pots of rhubarb compote or make rhubarb jam galore. I like to poach just until slightly soft but not mushy and add it to yogurt for a snack, make candied rhubarb or lots of rhubarb simple syrup for cocktails all through Spring and Summer. 

And then there is always a rhubarb tart or galette. This time I used some leftover puff pastry I had from a previous tart, made a cashew frangipane and layered some quick poached rhubarb batons (pieces) on top. Not too sweet and super buttery. The perfect little piece for an afternoon snack.
Rhubarb Pie


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