At the end of August, I traveled to Whistler (British Columbia) to teach a food styling and photography workshop for Ritchie Ace Camps. I was ready for some majestic landscape of mountains, evergreens, and snow-capped peaks. All the elements I love about the Pacific Northwest.
Rugged and glorious.
Angela and I had spent nearly a year working on all the details. I was excited to finally let go and simply enjoy the time with our students. We were also lucky to have Nadia join us to assist with all the preparations. I was in good hands.
I arrived in Vancouver in the early afternoon. The sky threatened rain and I was a bit anxious about the forecast up in the mountains. We had many outdoor activities planned for our workshop and weather would play a big role on how smoothly everything would run. “You never know what the weather will do in the mountains” Angela reassured me.
It was a wait and see game.
We drove up to Whistler as the sun set. The lakes reflected a red glow and the fog moved around the mountains – breathtaking.
We met our students the following evening when we got together at the Fairmont Chateau lobby. After a round of introductions, I felt a sense of ease. “This is going to be a fun group” I thought to myself. Oh and was it fun!
Our first day was spent discussing the basics of photography and food styling as well as practicing the theory. We cooked together, which I always find such a bonding experience.
Raw striped-beet ravioli, zucchini and mint gazpacho with radish salsa, tomato and goat cheese tartlets, roasted plums with mascarpone and vanilla bean cream, red currant financiers, and panna cotta with raspberry compote are some of the dishes we styled and photographed.
Angela and Nadia cooked salade Niçoise with wild salmon for lunch that day. It was a hit.
And we laughed. A lot.
That night was dinner at Brew House. Fun and vibrant. My chicken and matzo ball soup (sans the matzo ball for a gluten-free dish) was one of the most comforting foods I had had in a long time.
The following day, we woke up to bright blue skies. “I told you” Angela said “Weather is unpredictable in the mountains”
So happy it was.
We traveled to Pemberton for a morning spent capturing the life on North Arm Farm. They had just finished harvesting the last ripe blueberries, but there was still plenty to gather. Raspberries, beets, carrots, radishes and all sorts of turnips… even crabapples.
We visited the sheep and the chickens too. They were happy in the sun.
That afternoon, we rode the gondolas up to the top of Whistler mountain for a picnic with the most magnificent views.
Nadia and Angela arranged a delicious summer panzanella salad loaded with heirloom tomatoes from the region. This is why I love late summer. Red currant financiers and lots of Canadian chocolate put a sweet end to our meal. As it should be.
The sun felt nice on my shoulders and I remember how taken I was by the fresh air, smell of spruce and evergreens, and the gigantic mountains. Melissa and I shared the ride down on a lift and I felt blissful.
Dinner that night was at Trattoria di Umberto where we spent time learning about each other and bonding some more. My favorite part of these events is really the bonding that happens and this was a remarkable group of people gathered around one table. I felt very lucky to be there.
Sunday morning we strolled the streets of Whistler village where the weekly farmers’ market was held. It was a funny scene to watch fifteen of us with our bulky cameras and our odd requests.
“Can you please hold this bunch of radishes for me?” I asked the young girl at the produce stand. “Oh no, wait. Stop. Can you move it this way please?” It happens at these events, for sure.
We gathered some amazing produce. Some more heirloom tomatoes, all kinds of colorful root vegetables, red kuri squash, apples, bread, raspberries, red currants, apricots… everything we needed for our lunch and afternoon session.
For our last session, we had access to a lake house, which had the most beautiful views and light. I wish we had had some more time there because it truly was perfect for our workshop.
Angela and Nadia prepared baguette sandwiches with green bean salad with mint pesto. We sat outside on the patio facing the lake to enjoy our last lunch together. There were people on kayaks and paddle boards while sun and clouds alternated.
We finished the day with slices of yellow watermelon on the dock by the lake. The girls taking photos of food and each other. Contagious enthusiasm in the air.
I didn’t want it to end and wish we had had one more day to continue cooking, styling and photographing.
Our final dinner at Araxi made us feel like old friends really.
Here are some posts that our students wrote about their experience.
Mardi wrote aout it on her blog.
Big thanks to them for a remarkable workshop!