A cookbook, a culinary tour guide, a storytelling masterpiece!
This cookbook is all about stories: how these recipes came to be developed; how the producers connect with their land; and how London as a city has matured into a culinary powerhouse and is ready to take centre stage!
As with any story, visuals always help one’s imagination to get swept into the plot. When Alieska asked me to be the prop stylist for the book, she meant more than “can you buy a stack of pretty plates for me to shoot the recipes on?” What she really wanted me to do was to search the city for special items that will both highlight the food and tell the story that goes with it. So to us, that meant antiques with unique textures and rich patinas. Dark, antiqued metals; warm, worn wood; and textured textiles have been my main focus when acquiring the props.
Early on Alieska asked me if I was interested in getting on board with the project because she knew my personal passion was vintage shopping; where to scour for the best deals, where to get those one-of-a-kind special pieces, and how to artfully arrange them so they are visual interesting. Between London’s Kijiji community, antique dealers, Facebook auction sites, and local thrift stores, I have been slowly adding to our collection of plates, cutlery, napkins, and many other items that will make each and every recipe shot highly textured and richly illustrated. I picture every owner of the cookbook with their feet up with something delicious to drink, turning the pages slowly and savouring both the looks of the dishes and the feel of the book in their hands.
We are only a month in and many happy surprises have happened along the way! I approached a local potter, Tamara of Deerfield Studios near St. Thomas, if she was interested in creating some of the pieces for the book that we need but are a little more difficult to find when thrifting. She was immediately enthusiastic and offered to jump in right away and help us out at her own cost! I’ll be working closely with Tamara in developing the plates we need and relying on her expertise to get the perfect look.
I also stopped in at Zubick’s scrap metal, hoping to find large rusty pieces of metal that would serve as beautiful, aged backgrounds for the shots. Once again, the manager Matt was so excited about the idea that he offered me whatever I could find in the scrap yard at no charge!
Finally, Thomas at Just Simply Wood and I have been mutual admirers of each other’s work on Instagram, so when he saw what I was posting about the cookbook, he also immediately offered his beautiful wooden serving ware and kitchen products to be incorporated in the shots.
It’s amazing that there are other people in this community so excited about the project that they are willing to help out just for the sake of it in order to see it succeed. It’s so gratifying that other people are equally interested in where London is headed and want to play a part in it, however big or small.
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