16 November 2011

Plate to Page: A Weekend to Remember

On a recent Friday, 4 friends and 12 strangers gathered for lunch at a villa in Tuscany. Monday morning 16 fast friends hugged goodbye, promising to keep in touch. In between, there was work and laughter and photos and wine and food. Lots of food. This was Plate to Page Tuscany.

Plate to Page is a workshop that combines food writing and food photography. And food styling. All in three days. Whew! A lot to do. And we did it all.

The organizers first pushed us out of our comfort zone with some of the writing assignments: Jeanne challenged us to describe the perfect cheese and tomato sandwich in 30 words or less. "Write about an evening in a restaurant," said Jamie. 

"Very good", they said, "now do it differently."

We learned the difference between writing for a blog and for a magazine. We learned to write with voices other than our own. We learned to make our own voice stronger, better.

There were intense, thoughtful, creative exercises in photography, again pushing us gently out of our comfort zone into a bigger style. "MOOD in photos," Ilva said; "light, light, light," said Meeta. "Now try it yourself." And we did.

The final assignment brought it all together: photography and writing. Some of the work produced in this workshop took my breath away.

All five senses were at play all weekend: light, of course, and color and composition. Sounds, the main sound was the click, click, click of reflex cameras that served as the background base note for all our gatherings. Cold, it was cold. Where was that famed Tuscan sun? But it was autumn, my favorite season and the light was special.

Smells as the cooking proceeded to the tune of camera clicks and laughter. And Abba, let's not forget. Lots of Abba. The smell of autumn was everywhere—in the leaves as we walked outside, in the chestnut cake we had for dinner one night, and in the warm comforting smells of autumn food.

Nothing was eaten without being photographed first. And styled. We styled our pizza, we styled our juice, we even styled our salt! We were food paparazzi, pushing our lenses at anything edible, and several things that weren't.

We photographed food in its natural setting--on the lunch table. By the time we ate it, it was cold, but we didn't care: we were shooting.

Sunday, 16 fast friends waved goodbye, promising to keep in touch, through blogs, phone calls, twitter, facebook--all the mod cons. The time between Friday and Monday passed in a blur of work and laughter. And food!

I can't thank our wonderful organizers enough. I felt as if they opened up the circle of their friendship and included us all in it. It was an experience I'll never forget.

They are a fascinating group of women. There's Ilva, a Swede living in Italy; Jeanne, a South African living in England; Meeta, an Indian living in Germany; and Jamie, an American living in France. Restless souls, full of creative energy.

Left to right:
Jeanne of Cooksister!
Jamie of Life's a Feast 

My 11 new best friends and their posts about Plate to Page can be found here:

Judith of Aroma Cucina
Marta of
Princess Misia Recipes
Valentina of
A Wee Bit of Sugar
Lynn of
Alexandra of
Elizabeth of
Roast Duck and a Big Gooey Cake
Hayley of
The Delectable Diary of Hayley Harland
Olivia of
Heidi who writes for Xmagazine
Robin of
What About the Food?
Denise of
The Little Things

We also had some wonderful sponsors, without whom it would have been a LOT more expensive, and not nearly so much fun!

You'll be seeing more of these companies as I explore the possibilities of the products they generously gave us—what better opportunity to practice my new styling/photo/writing skills?


La Table De Nana said...

A dream come true!

Anh said...

I wish i were there!! Thanks for the recap!

Linda said...

How amazing this must have lucky girl! Sounds exactly like a dream come true!

Robin O said...

Dear Kate! What a wonderfully lovely post, capturing the heart of P2PTuscany - the friendships made, challenges embraced and experiences of a lifetime.

Great story in words and images!

- Robin

Pam said...

WOW! Dearest Kate, what fun! I kept thinking of you during your Tuscan stay, sounds like it was even better than you thought it would be! You must share all the things you learned in Feb!!!!

Jeanne said...

Oh kKte, what a wonderful post! I love reading how the exercises were from a participant's viewpoint and I love the gentle humour of your descriptions. Those misty pictures are too gorgeous - wish I'd had the fortitude to get up early to catch the mist. It was a real pleasure meeting you and you know you always have a place to stay if you visit London, right? :)

Joan Corey said...

Kate, I Love your Blog! Wish I was with you in Florence!!! Joan

Delectable Diary said...

I love your writing Kate! And those photos - WOW! they are so gorgeous. You have captured it beautifully. Miss you loads. Hayley X

Denise @ TLT - The Little Things said...

And a weekend to remember it was!! What a beautiful post, Kate. It was wonderful to meet you (and your husband)!

Valentina said...

Kate darling, lovely to read your description nearly a month later from Changai airport in Singapore. Your photos are fabulous, with great light and playing a movie in my mind. That weekend was really special and I am still feeling as energised as I felt during those 3 days. Warm hugs. Xx

Simones Kitchen said...

Kate... it has been so long since I last been here that I did not even know you went to plate to page!! How much fun it would have been if you had gone to the same one I went Love the photos!

Jamie said...

Beautiful! You captured it all so perfectly - I am sitting here smiling, grinning, tears welling up in my eyes. You 12 made Plate to Page as wonderful and successful as it was with your energy, passion, creativity and humor. What a terrific experience for all of us! And best friends? Oh absolutely! And you, Kate, are so special and it was wonderful getting to know you. And my husband loved you which says more than you can possibly know! Thanks for being there and for this write up bringing me back. xo

Cassandra said...

I like your blog, Kate. (Came here from Like the Dew, for which I, too, have written.
Please write more about your decision to move abroad and what the experience was like.