Photography: Nino Franco Photo Contest

... and the winner is ...

Photography: Heather Gill

A Chef, A Photographer. A Storyteller.

Comfort Food Contest Winner

A Comforting Italian Trifle

Photography: Stuart Ovenden

"It's all about the details!"

Welcome Back Bord Bia - Irish Food Bord

Name Sponsor for From Plate to Page

Welcome to From Plate to Page

Are you:

  • a food blogger who has been blogging for a while and feels stuck in a creative rut?

  • happy with your writing but feel your photography needs work - or vice versa?

  • tired of attending traditional format conferences where you are one of dozens of bloggers simply listening and taking notes ?

If so, then From Plate to Page is what you need!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Alumni Christmas Traditions

We rounded up our Plate to Page alumni from Weimar, Tuscany and Somerset and asked them all to share their favorite Christmas traditions, recipes and memories with us to celebrate Christmas 2012.

Our first workshop was back in Spring 2011 and it’s hard to believe we’re in the middle of planning our fourth one in Ireland next Spring. The talented, beautiful and generous people we have met through these workshops has been something the four of us cherish the most. Often they come as strangers but within the span of 3 days we leave as friends.

It has been important for us for stay in touch with them even after we said our goodbyes, often sad and tearful, and beyond the duty of the workshop. We like to “keep an eye” on how they progress and develop and cheer loudly at new successes, achievements and new feats they take on. It touches us when we receive heartfelt emails with moving words thanking us for being their inspiration … truth is they are our inspiration just as much.

We present some of our gorgeous alumni and their sensational seasonal treats and traditions.
From Jamie, Ilva, Jeanne and myself - have yourself a Merry Christmas, cherish your family and loved ones and hold them a little closer. May you have a fantastic start to the New Year and wish you a joyous, healthy and successful 2013.


Simone of Junglefrog Cooking teases with her Christmas pavlova

Pavlova with pomegranate
My mum was never a cook and hated cooking so most of our Christmas meals would always be the same; fondue with the family. Dessert bought in the supermarket. And that would be it. Not the best in terms of culinary delights I would say!
So when I went to live on my own I had to start from scratch in learning what to make for Christmas and the traditions we now have, really have nothing to do with the way it was when I was growing up.
I think one of my all time favorite Christmas dishes is this Christmas pavlova. It's very easy to make and looks so festive! I've never had anyone complain that I made it again...

Arthi of Debug Cooking presents her Double Chocolate Christmas Fruit Cake

The best thing about any festive occasion is family/friends get together. Since I live abroad away from my beloved family every year we try to spend Christmas with friends. Each of us make a dish and gather around eating and drinking all day, playing games, watching some good old movies. Since I am the official baker, I bake batches of traditional fruit cake, along with festive favourites like panettone or stollen, christmas pudding, steamed ginger pudding. We usually go to the late night mass and then have panettone and mulled wine and
chat around the tree opening gifts.
Jenn of Jenn Cuisine shares her Poached apple with frangipane cream

The tradition in my family is to try something totally new and different, to experiment.  Half of the fun of the holidays is cooking, and I've always enjoyed the times when I've been able to cook with my family.  My mom, dad and I dream up creations, hunt down recipes, and experiment in the kitchen.  This particular recipe was my first time ever poaching fruit, and was a resounding success for dessert on Christmas day.

Jasmine of Labna shares her Christmukkah cookies with the recipe here.

At this time of the year, my family starts to exhibit the most bizarre behaviours: my mother and I test doughnuts recipes and fry latkes for Chanukkah, but at the same time we whip up Christmas cookies for all of our relatives and friends, which will be carefully wrapped to make cute, homemade Christmas presents.
My mother was born Christian and she still cherishes Christmas very much, while my father is Jewish, so I was brought up in the Jewish faith, but still like "all things Christian" a lot. Being a family with mixed origins and faiths is quite weird: in December, we do our very best to celebrate both Christian and Jewish holidays, so we end up doing "Christmukkah", which basically means eight days of presents (Chanukkah), followed by one day of many, many presents (Christmas).
It feels a little strange but... an occasion for presents, family gatherings and good food is always welcome, isn't it?
Today, I share with you a simple recipe for cookies, which in Italian we call "pasta frolla": these treats will go perfectly well in any cookie box, either in the shape of a Christmas tree or a dreidel spinning top.

For approx. 50 cookies you'll need
200 g white flour
100 g sugar
100 g butter, room temperature
2 egg yolks
few tbsp milk
few drops of vanilla extract
In a large bowl, sift together flour and sugar then, using a fork, make a well in the center and add all the other ingredients, blending everything with your hands to form a thick dough.
Gather the dough into a ball, wrap the ball in cling film and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 mins; in the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 F.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface or between two sheets of wax paper and cut out the cookies with the cookie cutters of your choice.
Nicely arrange the cookies on a baking pan lined with wax paper then transfer the pan inside the oven.
Bake the cookies for 10/15 mins, until golden and easily removed from the wax paper surface.
Eat the cookies straight away or store them in a tin box.


Kate of Serendipity indulges in Chocolate and Pepper Cookie Towers

I have the Christmas Factory in full swing. This year, I’m making cards and cookies. We’re giving our neighbors cookie towers, with two or three different kinds of cookies. Don’t tell them!
Halyey of Delectable Diaries has a video post to share her divine and healthy Festive Pumpkin Pie. Don’t miss it …. yes she is just as adorable in real life as she is on that video.

Olivia takes us to Malta and serves us her imbuljuta

During this time of year, chestnuts become a must in our kitchen to make Dad's favourite Christmastime treat - the imbuljuta. Whole chestnuts bob up and down in this warm chocolate soup which is traditionally served after the midnight mass on Christmas eve or on New Year's eve. It reminds me so much of the cosy childhood nights my brother and I spent together watching a Christmas movie, just before getting ready for bed and wait for Father Christmas, who, in the meantime, was probably eating his favourite imbuljuta. Il-Milied it-tajjeb (Merry Christmas in Maltese)

Denise of TLT - The Little Things treats us with mini pavlovas

TLT pavlovas copy
These two-bite pavlovas have been part of many festive desserts I have made over the last few years. I usually bake them a day in advance, when there is plenty of time to keep precise track of oven times and to do multiple taste tests (absolutely necessary, of course!). They are very easy to prepare, look pretty and are light as a feather. Crunchy on the outside and a bit gooey inside, exactly the way pavlovas should be.


Djanira of Sunshine Table serves Ma Evan’s Nut Roast
I’ve been vegetarian for over twenty years so I’ve never eaten turkey. That doesn’t stop me enjoying a traditional roast, instead of the meat I opt for a nut roast. Today I’m sharing my mother in law’s recipe for nut roast. It’s a lot more moist than other nut roasts I’ve tried and its a huge family favourite (including the carnivores who cut big fat slices to go with their roast turkey).

Friday, 14 December 2012

Dianne Jacob: Will Write for Food!

"Will Write for Food should be mandatory reading 
for everyone who aspires to be a food writer." 

Any food blogger worth their salt knows who Dianne Jacob is. Writer, coach, editor, blogger, speaker and teacher, Dianne has become something of a guru with a huge following of both amateurs and professionals seeking her advice and guidance on everything from writing to getting published. Her book, Will Write For Food, contains a wealth of information for both bloggers and professionals and her blog has become an extension of the book, the place for healthy and fascinating debate on a world of food writing-related topics. Plate to Page had the good fortune to sit down with her and ask her a few questions. We are thrilled to have Dianne as our guest as she takes the time to give us an inside look at her career and shares some valuable insight and advice.

 Photo courtesy of Dianne Jacob

P2P: How did you get started? Tell us a bit about the evolution of your career...

DJ: I started writing stories and poetry when I was young because my dad, a frustrated writer, gave me and my sister writing assignments. In my 20s I went to journalism school and worked as an editor, writer and reporter at newspapers and magazines.

My second job out of journalism school was to become the editor of a restaurant magazine in a big city. I visited restaurants, interviewed chefs and wrote features. From there I worked on other kinds of publications but I did restaurant reviewing on the side. Once I became self-employed in 1996, I decided to start freelancing again, and that the subject had to be food, my primary obsession. I wrote columns, features, how-to pieces, interviews, essays and recipes. As I had always enjoyed working with writers, I added that to the mix, as a teacher and coach. I started building a business that specialized in food writing. I wanted to keep working with writers, because at that point, I had worked mostly as an editor for a few decades and I loved the editing process and helping writers shape stories.

I started working with writers as a freelance editor and began teaching food writing in the San Francisco Bay Area. My work expanded to working on book proposals, book manuscripts, and even coaching authors through the publishing process.

 Photo courtesy of Trevor Hart Photography

I wear lots of hats: coach, editor, blogger, speaker and teacher. I love the variety. Each satisfies me in its own way. I find it satisfying to help writers reach their goals, and when they get a blog started or a book deal or a freelance article published, it's gratifying. I also love the intellectual challenge of editing a piece to make it tighter and clearer. For fun, blogging is a joy. It connects me with a big community of thoughtful writers from around the world, and together we work through trends, ethical dilemmas, recipe writing, and career issues. I also love social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook for that reason.

P2P: Talk us through your book, Will Write for Food... 

DJ: The person who hired me to teach food writing said that I should have a book to boost my credibility. It was one of those slap-yourself-on-the-forehead moments, because there was no book on food writing then. Luckily, I knew a literary agent and she loved the idea. I had just a few months to write the first edition, which came out in 2005. I updated the second edition in 2010.

The book's staying power has been thrilling, and I never get tired of hearing that someone has just bought my book, or receiving emails that the book has helped them. Regarding teaching and speaking at food blogging conferences, I love to speak because those who attend are my target audience. I know what they're going through with their blogs and how they can move forward. I feel very lucky right now to have so many opportunities to travel and teach, many of them that have come from food bloggers themselves.

P2P: What has changed in the food writing profession over the past few years and how do you think it will evolve from here?

DJ: Food bloggers have gained credibility as successful freelance writers, book authors and self-publishers. At first, the publishing world didn't want to accept them because most started as hobbyists, but eventually food bloggers grew too powerful - and too talented - to ignore.

I'd like food blogging to evolve into a reasonable way to enable bloggers to make a living from it. Right now that is only possible for a select few.

P2P: What are one or two things you have learned along the way that are indispensable to the food writer - or a cookbook author, for that matter, seeing as you coach authors?

DJ: I used to think that food writing was all about describing food. Now I think it is all about the ability to tell a story, to understand what surrounds the food and gives it meaning. Writing this way draws readers in because it causes an emotional response.

P2P: Do you have any advice for those wishing to become professional food writers?

DJ: Oh yes, I have advice almost every week on my blog! There is paid work as a food stylist, food photographer, and marketer. What's harder is to get paid to write, although freelance opportunities do exist. It's a question of finding the right publication for your story, and pitching a story that is appropriate for the publication.

Then there's writing cookbooks, if you have a good idea and a big enough platform.

Follow Dianne on Twitter at @diannej and on Facebook at Will Write For Food

Friday, 7 December 2012

And the winner is ... a COMFORTING ITALIAN TRIFLE

Comfort was allowed to come to them rare, welcome, unsought; a gift like joy. 
- Ursula K. LeGuin 

A very Wise Plate to Page student once quite astutely remarked that our workshop was “all work and no shop”. So when we found ourselves with one complete Somerset workshop goodie bag on our hands (thank you, generous sponsors!) and decided that we wanted to offer this amazing collection of delectable treats, fabulous utensils and great cookbooks to one lucky food blogger, we decided to hold a little competition to get everyone working. Reminiscent of a workshop session, we asked each of you to write and shoot a piece on the theme Comfort Food.

After much deliberation, reading, re-reading, looking and analyzing, the four of us have selected a winner of the Comfort Food competition.  And the winner is... [drum roll] Alessio Fangano of Recipe Taster, who created not only a recipe but a mood of comfort with his words and pictures. Alessio is the happy recipient of a Plate to Page Somerset goodie bag which he will shortly be receiving in the mail. A hearty congratulations, Alessio, from the Plate to Page team!

There were also two runners-up: Eva of Food Vegetarisch with Sticky Toffee Pudding and our Plate to Page Somerset participant Alexandra of Strudel and Cream with Eton Mess. Congratulations to all of you and a huge thank you to all who participated. We loved reading through all of your luscious posts!

And here is Alessio’s beautiful winning post Comforting Italian Trifle, gorgeously illustrated with his photos and, of course, followed by his recipe:



What is comfort to our eyes? The feeling of home? A completely relaxed body? Or conversely a hyperactive session of our favorite sport? A visit to a museum can be comforting to many, but just because we stand still for hours in front of a magnificent piece of art it doesn't mean that our mind isn't going 100 miles an hour. Generally we tend to associate the word comfort with something soft, fluffy, enveloping and translating this abstract and deep feeling into food is quite an interesting endeavor.

Certain ingredients can, by themselves, elicit such an emotional response so much so that we may find ourselves savoring luscious sour cream by the spoonful directly from the tub in these deep moments of need. The texture of fatty rich food makes us melt into expressions of pure enjoyment, probably an instinctual response to the fact that we are well provided for the cold season.

When it comes to tastes and flavors we tend to affirm our personality more clearly in the realm of comfort food.
Chocolate can be the universal answer to the need of comfort food for its peculiar textural properties, but what do you go for black, milk or white chocolate (to use a broad classification)?
Do you find the pleasing pain-sensation elicited by chilies to be your ideal comfy pillow? Or is it the umami filled taste of seared beef?
Comforting flavors are deeply cultural and rooted in personal history. So what do you offer somebody if you want them to feel at home? A warm bowl of Pho? A platter of artisanal cheeses with their promise of a sensorial firework? And what about a slice of your grandmother's buttery apple cake still warm from the oven? A simple loaf of hearty country bread might be all that is needed to bring a smile to many other afflicted souls.

Why am I talking about this today? First of all cause I feel the need for some comforting today (nasty anonymous comments to your efforts can really dampen your enthusiasm) but most importantly because a group of dear friends have launched a giveaway with the theme of comfort food. Who are these dear friends of mine? Jamie, Jeanne, Ilva and Meeta from From Plate to Page, the European leading Photography & Writing workshop for food-bloggers.

Comfort food is very important when organizing a workshop among total strangers. This kind of meal tend to lower our guard, softening each other edges and doubts they make social interaction easier and more natural.

What I propose you as my comfort food today is a dish that I created for my last cooking class: An Italian Christmas. With the cold season I think that we all would love some buttery softness to comfort our shivering bodies and my Italian Christmas trifle might just be what you need.

Made with the omnipresent Italian Christmas cakes Pandoro and Panettone, this no-cook dessert brings together different traditions of the boot shaped country with the light touch of Southern ricotta cheese and the decadent aroma of Tuscan Vin Santo wine.

With its simple richness, this dessert lends itself greatly to be served on an elegant dinner layered inside pretty historiated glasses. As such I am finally able to join my friend Simone's monthly event revolving around food-styling. This month, the creator of Junglefrog Cooking, has concentrate her monthly food-styling challenge around food or drink in a glass. Do you have any of your beautiful creation that fits these requirements? Join us!

Italian Christmas trifle with Ricotta cream and Mandarin Ingredients
(serve 4-5):

For the mandarin segments:

4 mandarins
3 tablespoons Vin Santo wine or other dessert wine
1-2 tablespoons sugar or to taste

For the ricotta cream:

250g ricotta cheese
4 tablespoons cream
30g sugar or to taste
Little dusting of cinnamon
1 mini Pandoro cake
1 mini Panettone cake


Let's start by marinating the mandarin segments. Grate the mandarin peel into a bowl and using a knife, peel the fruits exposing their flesh. Cut the mandarin segment out of their skin and let them fall into the same bowl with the mandarin zest. Once you will have cut all the fruit segments out of their white skins, squeeze what has left in your hands into the bowl to recover some of the mandarin juice juice.
Add the Vin Santo wine and the sugar to the mandarin segments, stir gently and set aside until ready to assemble the dessert.
To prepare the ricotta cream, simply combine the ricotta with the cream, the sugar and the cinnamon in a bowl.
To assemble the dessert, cut the Pandoro and Panettone cake in slices and tear them into big chunks. In a big serving bowl or singular portion glasses, put together the dessert by alternating layers of the Pandoro-Panettone cake pieces with the marinated mandarin segments and the ricotta cream.
Be sure to moisten each layer of cake with a little of the mandarin marinating liquid before adding the ricotta cream. If you run out of marinating liquid mix some orange juice with a little Vin Santo and use that as moistening liquid.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Photography: “It’s all about the details” by Stuart Ovenden

SOvenden_SpottedDick Photo: Copyright Stuart Ovenden

It will not come as a surprise to you that I am a very visual person. I need to be able to visualize the details, the colors, the mood and the atmosphere to really be able to attach myself to the idea or the vision. About a year ago I stumbled across Stuart's blog Appledrane and instantly devoured the images I saw there. I loved the way he plays with light and the way he executes the finer details in the images creating a fascinating story. As we connected, I just had to ask him to come over to the Plate to Page website and share some of his valuable expertise. I was thrilled he said yes! Hope you enjoy our guest feature with the talented Stuart Ovenden.

- Meeta


For me it's all about the details. The length of a shadow, the way a spoon rests against a glass, a gentle fold of a napkin, a soft dapple of sunlight - these subtleties might only crackle quietly in the subconscious of the viewer, but if judged well, they can engage, excite and trigger a genuine emotional response. This is what I look for when I'm reading a food magazine, website or cookery book; as a result I try to make this a considered aspect of my own work.

The way that I shoot my own recipe pictures for my blog has changed completely in the past year. It's become quicker, more spontaneous and less fussy. This way of working is intended as a deliberate response to my day-to-day work, which is predominantly studio based and is altogether a lengthier process. I like the idea that I can just grab some bits from my prop cupboard, create a little set and get the shot done and dusted in minutes.

SOvenden_Forest Photo: Copyright Stuart Ovenden

When one is taking photographs in the studio, light is easier to manipulate; there is usually only a single source. Shadows can be filled or darkened easily; the same goes for the diffusion of light. Shooting outside presents its own unique challenges - but there is still a strong aspect of light manipulation involved. If one sets up in an open space during the middle of the day, light will invariably be top-heavy, hitting the subject from every possible angle and flattening a shot in the process. Sometimes I find it's simply a case of setting up next to a huddle of trees or a wall; often that’s enough to block off a bit of light and nudge in a touch of side-shadow.

SOvenden_Brambling Photo: Copyright Stuart Ovenden

Your choice of props underpins the success of a shot – I’m always on the hunt for new surfaces, plates and anything that has a quirky edge about it. If you’ve only a small prop collection it’s a good idea to work backwards; make the recipe fit with the lush chopping board that you’ve just found at a Boot Fair rather than the other way around. I often hold back some recipe ideas for months until the final piece of the prop jigsaw has presented itself.

SOvenden_Sausage Photo: Copyright Stuart Ovenden

My advice to aspiring food photographers is not to bogged down with kit envy – learn to master the camera that you have. I honestly think that clever, thought-through ideas can transcend the restrictions of technology. I've seen dull, uninspiring shots produced by photographers using £20K + Medium Format cameras, in contrast to blogger's shots taken on entry-level DSLRs that fizz with imagination and flair. Before I got my MK2 a few years ago, I was shooting blog posts on a cheap Canon 1000D (see the fruit salad shot as an example). I'd still happily have some of those early shots in my portfolio today.

SOvenden_Fruit Photo: Copyright Stuart Ovenden

I asked Stuart to answer a few quick fire questions to get a better insight of the talented man behind the camera. Hope you enjoy finding out more about Stuart.

Biggest inspiration?
The Countryside.  

Which camera do you use the majority of the time?
A Canon 5D MK2

You can only have one lens for the rest of your life, what is it?
It’d have to be the Canon EF 50mm f1.2.

Which photo are you currently most proud of?


SOvenden_Walnuts Photo: Copyright Stuart Ovenden

I took a still-life of a cup of Walnuts on location in France during the summer - I'm still really proud of it. Often food ID shots take a fair bit of work to get right, but this was very much a case of everything coming together in an instant. Lovely props bought from a Brocante that morning, soft evening light and shot in a couple of frames.

Prime or zoom?
Prime. It’s easy to become a bit “Zoom happy” when out in the field shooting; I’d rather crop in later rather than wish I hadn’t come in quite so tight when the shot was taken.

You could have anyone in the world take your portrait, who is it?
Probably Terry Richardson. I’d be less interested in the shot itself, more intrigued to find out if he’s quite as insane as he appears to be.

What was your proudest moment in your photography career so far?
Shooting the cover of BBC Good Food was a very proud moment for me; it’s the biggest food magazine in the UK and gave me some great exposure.

If you could tell yourself anything when you first started out, what would you say?
As frustrating as it is, you can’t win them all. Often on a shoot, the recipe, prop styling, food styling and composition all click together in an instant; it’s a joy when it happens that way and should never be taken for granted. There will always be the flipside to these moments though. Do the best job you can, but don’t dwell on things that are out of your control.

Where are you from?
I was born and grew up in Kent but now live in Hampshire with my family. It’s a beautiful part of the country and a constant source of inspiration for me.

Favorite photography website?
It’s a common answer I know, but Katie Quinn Davies has a great eye for a photo.

Who have you learned the most from?
As an Art Director I’ve been very lucky to work with some of most respected food photographers in the UK - I’d like to think that I’ve learnt a little bit from all of them. When I look back I’ll always be especially grateful to Gareth Morgans, Myles New and David Loftus for helping me when I started out; they were extremely generous with their advice, encouragement and letting me borrow kit.

How old are you?
I’m 32!

About Stuart Ovenden

London based food photographer Stuart Ovenden has spent over half a decade working with some of the biggest names in the UK food industry. He is a passionate Forager and Cook, regularly writing and photographing recipes for his popular blog, Appledrane. Stuart's recent clients include BBC Good Food, Olive, BBC America, Leith's Cookery School and Book Guild Publishing.

Website: Appledrane
Twitter: @stuovenden

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Welcome back to our name sponsor Bord Bia!

To sustain - a wonderful word that can be defined as "to supply with necessities", "to support from below" or "to support the spirits or resolution". It is a word that has been much on our mind lately at Plate to Page HQ as we continue to sustain relationships with our fellow instructors, with our wonderful past workshop participants, as well as our incredible past sponsors, many of whom have sponsored us more than once. Of course, the definitions above can also be applied to the role that our sponsors play, supplying us with necessities like wine, food and good bag gifts - but more importantly, sustaining us in spirit with their generous advice and encouragement.

And we like to think that it is as a result of our sustained relationships with various sponsors that we are now proud and privileged to welcome back our original name sponsor, Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board), who took a chance on us and  sponsored our very first workshop in Weimar in May 2011.  Bord Bia have confirmed that they are joining us once again as name sponsors for Plate to Page Ireland in 2013, and here is what Maeve Desmond, International Communications Manager of Bord Bia, had to say:

Bord Bia – the Irish Food Board - are delighted to support the Plate to Page workshop being hosted in Ireland in 2013. Ireland is very lucky to have a vibrant and passionate food blogging community which Bord Bia have supported over the last few years and we are very excited that Plate to Page will visit Ireland to experience our wonderful food offerings and meet some of our wonderful food producers and bloggers! We wish Plate to Page every success and we warmly welcome food bloggers travelling to Ireland for the event.

The idea of sustaining and nurturing also fits in well with the Origin Green Sustainability Charter developed by Bord Bia - an innovative ongoing voluntary programme that seeks to demonstrate the commitment of Irish food and drink manufacturers, both large and small, to operating in the most sustainable manner possible. Origin Green offers a structure that allows individual companies to communicate key sustainability issues, set targets and regularly report progress in achieving short, medium and long term goals. Bord Bia will publish participation and categorise companies relative to the progress they achieve against their stated targets.

Origin Green enables the Irish food & drink industry to demonstrate individually and collectively its commitments to sustainability, and provide the evidence that retailers, foodservices operators and manufacturers around the world are looking for.  Companies are asked to sign up to the Origin Green sustainability Charter by developing and implementing a multi-annual sustainability action plan. These plans and then annual progress reports are verified by a world leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company, The SGS Group.

As part of Bord Bia's involvement in From Plate to Page Ireland, we will be sharing some more information about this wonderful initiative - and don't go away because the Plate to page team and Bord Bia might have a couple of surprise giveaways up our sleeve for you  in the run-up to Plate to Page Ireland!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Goodie bag giveaway - with a twist


Food is front and center at every Plate to Page workshop: we write about it, style it, photograph it; we study it as we would some work of art. We live and breathe the food we must analyze, study, translate into words and capture in images. Color, odor, shape and texture, food pervades every shot and every exercise. Our workshop revolves around food. It is, after all, why we are there. As any food blogger or professional writer or photographer knows, food inspires our creativity, our passions and feeds our senses. It is, as they say, our bread and butter.

Yet food plays an even bigger role at Plate to Page, one we often take for granted. Once we get beyond the visual, once we close our laptops and put down our cameras, we gather around tables laden with an abundance of tasty dishes and bottles of liquid refreshment and there we look not only for sustenance to see us through an emotional, passionate weekend, but we find satisfaction and, yes, comfort.

Comfort is found in that very first meal; a lunch of sizzling bratwurst or thin slices of prosciutto on fresh ciabatta, bowls of fresh fruit and local cheese as one by one instructors and participants arrive for the Plate to Page weekend.  We glance around nervously at new faces, not knowing what to expect, not knowing how to break the ice. Conversation over a plateful of food, a glass of wine always seems easier, a common subject is found, the warmth of a good meal bringing contented laughter and confidence to even the shyest among us. We linger over our food, carrying plates and glasses into that very first session, not quite ready to let go of the comfort and familiarity of a first shared meal.

Comfort is found in a hot mug of milky coffee or a steaming cup of tea, a bowl of muesli, hot eggs and toast with cheese; we stumble down that first morning exhausted from the previous day’s work, the long night sitting up chatting with new friends, a bit nervous and embarrassed to be seen with our bedheads and morning faces, often still in our pajamas before who were just yesterday mere strangers. But there is comfort in a shared breakfast as pinpricks of sunshine seep through the window panes, as the chill of the early morning sneaks into the rambling kitchen. Plates are passed around, dishes clatter as the food works its magic, warms us inside and out. 

You may have heard a lot about our Plate to Page workshops -  the fun, the conviviality, the camaraderie, the inspiration, the hard work! But you must have also heard that we have the best, most generous sponsors, the best goodie bags anywhere. And now we have one for you. Indulge us with a little game, a little exercise in the P2P spirit and you may be the lucky winner of one truly fabulous Plate to Page goodie bag! 

Write and shoot along with us for your chance to win the exact same goodie bag we offered our workshop students at the Somerset Plate to Page workshop!

For our very first GIVEAWAY we simply ask you to write a short blog post of 500 - 800 words accompanied by 1 - 2 photos based on the theme COMFORT FOOD. Let your mind wander and find inspiration where it will, but a written post with photographs about Comfort Food will enter you to win the goodie bag. 

1) Post your submission on your own blog by Tuesday DECEMBER 1, making sure you mention Plate to Page as well as the giveaway and linking back to the Plate to Page website and this post. 
2) Leave a link to your blog post submission as a comment on this post or send it to us at platetopage AT gmail DOT com.

We ,  Jeanne, Ilva, Jamie and Meeta - will collect your entries and choose the winner. THE WINNER OF THE P2P GOODIE BAG WILL BE ANNOUNCED HERE AND ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE ON DECEMBER 6. 

INCLUDED IN THE GOODIE BAG PRIZE ARE: three cookbooks and Donald Russell cooking guidesSally Williams's almond nougat, one jar of The Garlic Farm toasted garlic mayo, one jar ginger of vegetarian CaviArt, two beautiful ceramic Edge of Belgravia knives, and two aprons.

And don’t worry, our generous sponsors have sent us so many extra goodies that there are more books and products to go around.... and we will have more giveaways between now and the Plate to Page Ireland workshop in May 2013!

Please note that owing to postage costs and customs levies we can only send the goodie bag to winners in Europe.  But even if you are not in Europe, you are still most welcome to participate and get feedback from the Plate to Page instructors - and you will still feature on our website if you impress us with your entry.      

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Welcome to our new look

"He who rejects change is the architect of decay."

So said Harold Wilson, former British Prime Minister.  Wise words, but not always easy advice to follow.  All change comes at a cost: disruption, time, effort, frustration, upheaval - but more often than not after all the dust has settled we look back in satisfaction at the changes we have made, whether this be in our relationships, our homes... or our websites.

They say a change is as good as a holiday, and if that is the case, our From Plate to Page website looks as if it has just come back from two weeks in the Bahamas.  Because, you see, the Plate to Page team have been quietly working behind the scenes and we are now proud to welcome you to the completely revamped From Plate to Page website and unveil our gorgeous new logo!

As you can see, we have been busy bees, putting together a website that we think will better serve your needs and make things easier to find that they were previously.  On the site, you will find everything you need to know about Plate to Page:  from who we are, to what our past workshops were like, to details about our forthcoming workshop in Ireland.  For your viewing pleasure, we have added a section of quotes by previous participants to help you decide whether Plate to Page is for you, and we are still going to have regular guest posts from talented writers and photographers that we admire.* 

We have also been hard at work on the Ireland workshop coming up in Spring 2013 and soon we'll be introducing our new sponsors. Although we have not yet officially opened registrations, you can fill out a pre-registration form for free which entitles you to advance notice before registrations officially open.  In the meantime, have a look at the wonderful accommodation and programme that we have arranged for the Ireland workshop, or read about how much fun we had at the Somerset workshop in Spring 2012 to get an idea of whether you might want to attend a future Plate to Page workshop.  

So do feel free to have a look around the site and to keep up to date with all the latest Plate to Page news, remember to subscribe to our RSS feed, "Like" our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter.

We look forward to welcoming you to our next From Plate to Page workshop in Ireland!

Please note that we are in the process of redirecting our address from the old website to this one, but it may take a couple of days.  If you have bookmarked the .com address you can leave it as it is - but to be sure of finding our new site rather than the old one during the transition period, please use instead.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Plate to Page Ireland May 2013

From Plate to Page is the original food writing and photography workshop, combining a small group size with multiple presenters to give participants a truly hands-on learning experience, both in writing and photography.  We have already presented three hugely successful workshops in Weimar (Germany); Tuscany (Italy); and Somerset (England) - and now it is time for Irish eyes to start smiling... because between 10 and 13 May 2013, the fourth From Plate to Page workshop will be taking  place in the beautiful rolling green hills of County Meath, Ireland. Our home for the duration of the workshop will be charming Decoy Country Cottages, located in the historic Boyne Valley. Although only 30 miles from Dublin, the stone cottages offer the perfect balance between a tranquil countryside haven and beautifully appointed modern accommodation arranged around a landscaped courtyard.

Hill of Tara  © Jason Calvert

Meath is a beautiful county on the east coast of Ireland.  The surrounding area is rich in history and offers plenty to see and do in the form of abbeys, castles (including Trim Castel above that was used in the filming of Braveheart), stately homes, and even prehistoric sites such as the Hill of Tara with its Iron Age structures and association with the ancient kings or Ireland. Ireland is also increasingly becoming known as a foodie destination with excellent fresh produce and outstanding artisanal producers such as brewers, dairies, and smokehouses. .

Trim Castle © T Mitchell

Our exclusive 2.5-day residential programme will cover basic and advanced food styling and photography as well as writing skills and will include presentations, hands-on workshops, individual guidance and critique from the presenters, as well as communal cooking and living. By limiting attendance to no more than 12 participants, we are able to present topics in a practical and collective way, with group participation at every step. Over the course of the weekend we will work individually or in teams to complete assignments in both writing and photography. This will include plenty of one-on-one contact with the workshop leaders in a relaxed and social atmosphere where it will be possible to ask questions, share ideas and practical experience far more freely than in a large auditorium. The workshop will once again be led by four of Europe's most popular and respected food bloggers, freelance writers and photographers, each an experienced teacher and speaker (click here for speaker bios). We also have a treat in store for applicants in the form of a visit to a local market or artisanal producer (to be confirmed), either of which will provide participants with a unique a wonderful writing and photo opportunity.

 The total cost of the workshop per person is €750 and will include:
  • shared accommodation in double rooms for three nights in beautiful country cottages close to the city of Dublin, 
  • all meals 
  • all drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic)  
  • transport to and from the venue of the field trip
Only participants' travel from home to and from the workshop venue will be an extra expense. You can see a more detailed programme here.

Click here to register.  We look forward to welcoming you to Ireland! 

Photo credit for slider image:
Trim Castle, Co.Meath.
Photo by Andrew Parnell, 2007.
See terms of use.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Plate to Page: Once upon a time in Somerset

Question:  What do you get if you mix together 14 women, one man and a hyperactive border collie in a remote Somerset farmhouse?  No, it's not the start of a complicated joke, or the premise for a horror movie, but an equation for Plate to Page Somerset food writing and photography workshop which took place in May at Meare Court Farm, a gorgeous restored Grade II Listed stone farm building near Taunton. It's the kind of place where you are woken up by the cows lowing in the morning; where all cooking is done on a gorgeous old AGA; where bedrooms are snuggled under the rough hewn beams of the old rafters;  and where you can accidentally leave your keys hanging on the outside of the front door all night (as we did...!) and nothing happens!  In other words, it is the perfect English country retreat where 11 participants and four instructors could sequester themselves for a weekend of intensive writing and photography. 


By late morning on Friday, the first of the participants started arriving.  Some had met in Taunton the night before; some were meeting each other for the first time; and all of them were meeting the instructors for the first time.  Within 30 mins of their arriving, they had all chosen roommates for the weekend, met our unofficial 16th participant (Tess the hyperactive sheepdog), and settled down to presenting their 5-minute elevator pitches about themselves.  With the ice comprehensively broken, we sat down to a buffet lunch of salads, quiches, lively conversation, and excellent local Somerset apple cider from Orchard Pig, who make a wonderful range.  

Lunch was followed by a brief presentation food writing and photography and then participants were thrown into the deep end with hands-on writing and photographic exercises. You could almost smell the smoke from smouldering brain cogs as it dawned on them that yes, Jamie and I really were asking them to write something meaningful 10 minutes! Similarly, Meeta and Ilva put the other half of the group through some gruelling paces, pushing their food styling and camera skills to the limit by styling some of our photogenic sponsor products with the rustic English country garden and old stone walls as a backdrop. Then everybody gathered once again in the training room with its floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the green fields, for two more photographic presentations before we were finally done for the day and could reward ourselves with a glass of Bisol prosecco for the day's hard work.  Dinner was an informal affair at the gorgeous wooden rustic wooden table in the kitchen, warmed by the old AGA.  Sponsor Donald Russell had very kindly provided us with 15 fish pies from their range of luxury ready-made meals, which we served with minted peas, washed down with Bisol's Crede prosecco and followed by exuberantly pink raspberry Eton Mess - delicious with the gentle flavour of vanilla from our sponsor Nielsen-Massey. After dinner, everybody turned in for a quiet and relatively early night.

Saturday morning started off with a hearty breakfast of toast, bagels, muesli, yoghurt, cold meats and cheeses - including the rather awesome Capricorn Somerset Goats Cheese from our sponsors. And then it was back to the training room for the morning's first photography presentation.  This was followed by a hands-on styling session which saw Ilva and Meeta each talking the participants through how they would style and set up a shoot, and then some free play time for participants to experiment on their own. To put these skills into practice, we then headed for our first visit of the day: Brown & Forrest, a small family-owned smokery in nearby Hambridge. Here, we met the charming and enthusiastic owner Jesse Pattison who took us into the smokery to show us how they hot and cold smoke everything from salmon to eels to garlic, cheese and salt. We also got to enjoy some of the smokery's products: cold-smoked salmon; hot-smoked eel, chicken and duck; and some excellent smoked trout paté.  

After our visit to the smokery, participants were treated to an English pub lunch.  The Canal Inn certainly fits the bill in appearance, with its gleaming draught beer taps, dark wooden beamed interior and low ceilings.  Staff and regular patrons were a little taken aback when 15 out-of-towners descended on them and spent the first 10 minutes snapping pictures of everything from the decorative horse brasses to the vinegar bottles - but then how were they to know that these were 15 people on a mission who had to write up the visit as part of an assignment!  We enjoyed a starter of asparagus with a poached duck egg and hollandaise; a main of seabass; and dessert of a berry tart with clotted cream. Maybe not traditional English pub food, but lovely nonetheless.  And from there it was back to the house for a large pot of coffee, some fortifying luxury almond nougat from South African company Sally Williams, and a writing workshop before participants were turned loose in pairs to write a blog post on the morning's visit to the smokery, while instructors had the opportunity of spending time with each team, providing individual support, advice and guidance.  Once all the groups had finished and presented their pieces, it was back to the house for a catered dinner of carrot & coriander soup, salad and mackerel pate starters; poached salmon, roasted chicken with pears, and butternut risotto for mains; plus a mixed berry Eton mess, a lemon cheesecake and a fresh fruit salad for dessert, washed down with Bisol Jeio Rosé prosecco - nobody went to bed hungry or thirsty!

Bright and early after breakfast on Sunday, Jamie and I led the group back to the training room for another challenging writing workshop - although there was much head scratching, inspiration did finally strike everybody and participants produced some great work.  After we had warmed up the crowd, Meeta and Ilva took over with their post-processing presentation while Jamie and I went to meet the lovely Hayley, a Plate to Page alumna from Plate to Page Class of Tuscany who had offered to come and help us cook on Sunday and bring us a mid-morning snack: astonishing hand-made raw chocolate truffles from our sponsor Raw Love Life. fHayley whipped up a fantastic kedgeree for lunch, using the nutty and delicious Gallo 3-grain that we had received from our sponsors; followed by a beautiful Victoria sponge cake, using with the incredible (and gorgeously packaged) jams supplied by our sponsor Sunchowder - think flavours like peach-lavender, raspberry-pepper, strawberry-balsamic, or pineapple-tangerine. To drink, we indulged in Orchard Pig's fresh and delicious range of fruit coolers and Bisol Cartizze and Bisol Jeio RoséMeeta and Jo even found the time to fit in an impromptu modelling shoot for me in the garden, showing off their stylish and practical Kelly Moore camera bags - the bags for people who don't like to carry a camera bag. 

After lunch, participants were once again set a task to perform in groups of two and left to work on their own while the presenters moved between groups offering advice and guidance and Hayley got to work on dinner, stuffing the gorgeous legs of lamb that Donald Russell had sponsored with smoked garlic provided by  The Garlic Farm, using the ultra-sharp ceramic knives kindly provided by Edge of Belgravia.  The smell in the kitchen by mid-afternoon wonderful beyond words. As the afternoon drew to a close, we gathered in the training room for a final time to hear participants present their final project. But of course, mankind cannot live by writing and photography alone:  to fortify everyone for the presentations, we broke out the boxes of Bluebasil Brownies - delectable, gooey brownies in flavours like Caramel Crunch, Cardamom and Chocwork Orange. A large helping of chocolate and 60 mins later, we were done with the last of the participants' presentations, and off to the main house for a traditional English farewell dinner of wonderful asparagus from The Garlic Farm, followed by the utterly delicious slow-roast legs of lamb and washed down with plenty of gorgeous French red wine called Domaine of the Bee. 

Breakfast the next morning was a sombre affair - 15 people who had arrived as strangers were leaving as friends: inspired, motivated and happy, yet also tinged with sadness that we had to return to the real world.   If you want to be part of the next Plate to Page Workshop, please subscribe to our RSS feed, Facebook page or Twitter feed so that you can be among the first to know when ticket sales open for Plate to Page 2013!

Thank you to our awesome participants for making the weekend as special as it was:

Spandana | Jo | Wendy | Alexandra | Djanira | Juliane | Nitin | Barbara | Ruth | Francoise | Rim

And thank you to our stellar cast of sponsors - we could not have done this without you:
Bisol Prosecco  |  Donald Russel (legs of lamb, curries and fish pies) | Sally Williams (nougat) | Halen Môn (smoked sea salt) | Orchard Pig (Somerset ciders and fruit coolers) |  Laithwaites Domaine of the Bee wine |  Capricorn Somerset Goats Cheese  |  F & W Media (Brette Sember’s Muffin Tin Cookbook) | Riso Gallo (3-grain rice & easy risotto) | Edge of Belgravia (limited edition numbered ceramic knives) | Sunchowder’s Emporia (gourmet jams) |  Blue Basil Gourmet Brownies  |  Taste of Home (cookbooks and aprons) |  Gourmelli (selected gourmet foods) | Nielsen-Massey flavoured extracts |  The Garlic Farm (smoked garlic, fresh asparagus, relishes) | Raw Love Life raw chocolates | Kelly Moore (camera bag vouchers)