Dorie Greenspan: “Say yes and follow your dream.”

By September 25, 2013 Life + Travel

Photo by Robyn Lee/roboppy on Flickr

Dorie Greenspan, keynote speaker at this year’s International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) and author of 10 cookbooks, encouraged an audience of more than 300 bloggers to always say yes to opportunities and follow their dreams.

“I think I’ve been fortunate because I’ve always said yes,” she told an adoring audience.

Dorie, humble and self-deprecating, made for an inspirational start to IFBC. She shared with the audience how she started out in food writing with no formal culinary or writing background. She admitted that her mother didn’t even cook or bake! Dorie said “yes” to the opportunities that came her way because she figured they would be fun and interesting, and that she’d learn something. She also “wanted to stop being nervous” and gain skills and confidence.

Her other bit of wisdom: “Concentrate on the work.”

By this she means write for yourself, not others. Do the work that makes you happy. When Dorie started out, she didn’t have the instant gratification of blog comments or social media. But after publishing Baking: From My Home to Yours in 2006 and starting a food blog, she discovered a huge community interacting with her work. It made her realize that writers today have more power than ever before to encourage people to do what makes them happy.

Dorie, thank you for an inspirational keynote!

Photo of Dorie Greenspan by Robyn Lee.

You Might Also Like

Andrew Scrivani on food photography at IFBC 2013

By September 24, 2013 Food Photography, Life + Travel


For me, the highlight of the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) this past weekend in Seattle was NY Times photographer Andrew Scrivani talking about food photography. He was featured in two sessions: one about shooting food photos, and another about workflow and business. Both were practical, straightforward, and really well done. Here are some takeaways.

Buy props that are neutral and versatile. That way, you can reuse them and they will work for many different photo shoots.

Propping is essential to storytelling. Be intentional. A blue or red gingham napkin will tell viewers you’re outdoors at a picnic, for example.

Buddha Rolls

Study your recipe to pick up hints that will help with propping and styling. You may notice a specific garnish will add something to the shot, or part of the cooking process itself is worth documenting.

Back up your original images immediately upon transferring them to your computer, and back up your final edited images regularly. You’ve put a massive amount of time and energy into your photo shoot, so do yourself a favor and don’t risk losing those images, which are potential income.

Mini Photography Studio

The first question to ask when working with a potential client is: What is your budget? Andrew Scrivani went over 10 questions to help you price your work and conduct yourself professionally. Your time is valuable, and everything involved in a food photo shoot costs money (food, props, stylist, etc.), so don’t under-price yourself.

You Might Also Like

Off to IFBC this weekend, and a blogging identity crisis solved

By September 19, 2013 Life + Travel


The 2013 International Food Blogger Conference is taking place in Seattle this weekend! Soon I’ll be surrounded by lots of people who share the same passion for food, photography, and writing. Gathering a bunch of food writers and photographers in one place is always a good time.

I’m especially looking forward to the food photography workshop with Andrew Scrivani, food photographer for The New York Times! I plan to blog about it, of course. Food photography is still pretty new to me, but I’ve been having lots of fun with it lately.

You may be thinking, Wait a minute, is this a food blog? I thought it was about photography. Well, it’s both. It’s been a journey for me. When I was invited to speak on a food blogger panel for a social media event in Tacoma last spring, I wondered, Am I a food blogger? I was hesitant, because I hadn’t really defined a niche for my blog. It was just photos and photography, sometimes involving food. Of the four bloggers on the panel, my blog was the least food centric.

More recently, you may have noticed a stronger focus on food photography—dessert photography in particular. I’ve always loved baking. I’ve always loved photography. It seems strange that I never really considered combining the two until recently. But if you look back to my first post, it’s about cupcakes. So that’s a pretty big sign to me that it’s the right move. It took me a long time, but I’ve finally discovered my favorite photography subjects: food and nature.

Shake Shake Shake

If you’re attending IFBC, come find me! I’ll most likely be hanging out with Tacoma Foodie and scoping out the vegetarian options—and desserts, of course!

I’ll leave you with a photo of one of my favorite signs in Tacoma, found inside Shake Shake Shake, a burger place in the Stadium District. It commands you to “EAT,” and I plan to do plenty of that this weekend!

You Might Also Like

Local dessert spotlight: Pao’s Donuts and Valhalla Coffee

By August 19, 2013 Food Photography, Local People + Places

Pao's Donuts

It’s been long enough since I wrote about doughnuts, so I thought I’d feature a favorite shop—and two particularly awesome doughnuts they make—for this month’s local dessert spotlight.

On the left is their toasted coconut doughnut with yellow cake. Owners Pao and Morokat Lo said it’s one of their most popular, possibly because the coconut is sliced and toasted in the shop. Like a lot of their doughnuts, it isn’t overly sweet. It’s just right. The golden-brown toasted coconut provides a nice contrast in texture to the soft cake of the doughnut.

The other one pictured is their apple cake doughnut. I haven’t seen this particular doughnut offered at any other shop. It makes me think of fall, and applesauce. It’s dense and filling, rather than light and fluffy, and the sweetness is subtle. The texture is somewhat reminiscent of a muffin, but better. I bet it would be great with hot apple cider in the fall and winter.

Add a Valhalla latte and you’re good to go. Valhalla is a beloved roaster in Tacoma. They formerly roasted their coffee in the now-closed Mandolin Cafe on 12th. Their lattes are fantastic.

Pao’s Donuts: 6919 6th Ave., Tacoma
Pao’s Donuts & Coffee Shop

Valhalla Coffee: 3918 6th Ave., Tacoma

You Might Also Like

Victoria sponge cake and the case of the missing jam

By August 12, 2013 Food Photography

Victoria Sponge Cake

I have a confession to make.

I forgot an ingredient when putting together this cake. The filling in the center should be composed of raspberry jam, whipped cream, and fresh raspberries, but I left out the jam. Oops. I got so excited about photographing this cake that I stopped referencing the recipe.

Oh well. It’s not as bad as the time I made chocolate chip cookies but forgot to fold in the dry ingredients before I baked them. Cookies without flour, it turns out, become formless puddles.

I swear, I’m not as absentminded as I sound. I just sometimes … get distracted. The important part is that I managed to get the jam in the center before I served it!

Victoria Sponge Cake

This cake, called a Victoria sponge cake, is a traditional British dessert. It’s composed of two layers of yellow cake with jam, whipped cream, and fresh raspberries in the middle, and powdered sugar on top.

When I first saw a picture of this cake, I was skeptical. No frosting? How could it be good? But it has such a fresh, light flavor. It’s a different kind of cake, not as heavy as one with frosting. It makes a great summertime treat.

I made this cake for a Victorian tea earlier this year, but I was so busy helping prepare for the event that I didn’t get a chance to take any photos then. But since I wanted an excuse to make it again, it worked out just fine.

Victoria Sponge Cake

You Might Also Like