- The CREATIVE Team -
ALIESKA ROBLES - Author
Creator, Art Director, Designer and Photographer
I'm driving force behind the Forest City Cookbook. I always dreamed about creating a cookbook and in January 2017, I decided to make it happen. I felt I had the tools and knowledge from over a decade in different creative practices to make it work. Knowing there was a lot more to learn, I embarked on this eye-opening journey and experienced it from start to finish – from project management to photography and design.
I wanted this cookbook to be something special, something that would represent my love for food photography, my obsession with cookbooks and my big admiration for culinary artists and farmers. Something that will celebrate our local culinary community and that will make us all proud of where we live.
I reached out to as many chefs I could and gathered a team of culinary artists and farmers willing to volunteer their time and talent to be part of this book. The project was launched on May 23rd, 2017 after months of research, planning, meetings, business plans and web design... and so the fun began, which involved A LOT of work, but came filled with many lessons, meaningful memories and new friends.
From idea to reality, the whole process included all of my favourite things: creating the style guide for the entire book, hunting for vintage props, planning the props for each recipe, reviewing the recipes and taking food photos for each, going on farm tours, interviewing farmers, countless hours editing and designing, writing stories and so much more.. After 6 months of creating and gathering all the content, it was time to put all the pieces together, which took another 7 months of more editing, designing, proofreading and creating print-ready files. Finally, on August 9th, 2018 the book was in my hands, ready for distribution and seeing the light for the first time during the launch event!
In summary, I had a very ambitious idea (some might call it crazy) but I decided to bring it to life and see what happened. I wanted to test my limits and see what I could do, leaving what I consider a positive mark along the way and hopefully motivating at least one person to "just go for it". If we are all kind to each other and work together as a united community we will achieve amazing things for our Forest City. This is only a little grain of sand, we need more passion projects like this to raise our culinary profile, build our own food identity and get London's name out there among the best food cities in Ontario. Trust the unknown and believe in the power of good food!
Although the challenge was to test my limits and put into practice everything I knew, I couldn’t have done it without Brian Blatnicki, Amanda DeVries, Chad Stewart, Carl Matthes ad Bryan Lavery. Each of them had key roles that help this project succeed. Most of us were strangers when this project started, but we got to know each other along the way and established friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime.
Amanda is a graphic designer and branding consultant. She owns a boutique marketing agency where she brings ideas to life. With beautiful fonts, colourful designs and compelling marketing solutions, she makes brands and individuals thrive in the fierce world of commerce. She has a passion for patterns, textures and vintage treasures, and became my partner in “antique-crimes,” helping source the props used for the shots and finding creative ways to incorporate them into each recipe. Her ability to turn ideas into concepts made her great with words as well, and she collaborated in the writing process of the farmer stories. Amanda loves challenges and never stops searching for inspiration even in the smallest details. Just like me, she is always smiling!
Brian is a marketing specialist and communications coordinator, His day-to-day is based on making connections and building strong relationships within our community, he understands social media and uses it as a powerful tool to interact with like-minded individuals. Brian was the mastermind behind most of the volume sales and the promoter for many productive conversations through our online platforms. He reached out to almost 200 companies inviting them to take part, not all of them replied, but the ones who did, helped the cookbook reach the minimum number of copies required to afford the initial printing cost. Brian also found us a gorgeous studio space for the photoshoots, and above everything, he had fun sharing his passion for all things local!
Chad Stewart is a trained chef, culinary professor and urban beekeeper. He has a successful catering company and is well-known for always sourcing the best ingredients, working hard to lift the profile of our culinary community and farmers. Chad has made connections with local farmers over the years, learning about seasonality, sustainability and the authentic flavours of Ontario. As a chef, he firmly believes it is his responsibility to educate people through food, often sharing the stories of hardworking farmers trying to make a difference. Chad shared some of his best-kept secrets to provide the book with a wide array of dedicated producers; together, we made several trips to the countryside, interviewed farmers and got our shoes dirty. As an unconditional supporter and brand ambassador, he tirelessly promoted the cookbook.
Carl is a sound designer by day and tech support 24/7. Carl works for a video game company bringing characters to life through experimental sounds, a mix between organic and digital soundwaves that enhance the audiovisual experience and brings it to the next level. His vast knowledge in all things tech, combined with his ability and curiosity to stay on top of the game, made him a great asset everytime technology conspired against the project. Carl was there each time the computer crashed and found ingenious ways to fix it right on time. In the middle of each crisis, he remained calm and did his best to recover all of the work we thought was lost after a few major computer breakdowns. Carl was the editor of our behind the scenes videos and the whole reason why this project was even possible. As a supportive and loving husband, he carried our family on his own for over a year, allowing me to take time off to dedicate 100% to this project.
Bryan is a writer at large and culinary enthusiast. His journey includes collaborating with chefs, opening his own restaurants, writing for various publications and advising restauranteurs in the art of hospitality. As a food writer, chef and restauranteur, Bryan brings years of professional experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. A proponent of the Slow Food Movement, Culinary Tourism and Farm-to-Table dining, Bryan likes building community through food while writing about culinary talents that are making a difference. Bryan wrote the foreword and a brief overview of London’s culinary evolution, collaborated in the writing process of the farmers’ stories and Kindly offered his wholehearted support to make this book better.
Out team was small but mighty, and with all the ups and downs, we made it through! This book is only a little grain of sand, which I hope will inspire more creative minds to start their passion projects. It only takes one to start a revolution, take the leap and make things happen. “Trust the unknown and believe in the power of kindness, good food and an honest smile!”
Alieska Robles - Author