Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Honey Pecans & Charleston Photo Workshops Recap

Honey roasted pecans  

For the past nearly 3 weeks, I've been back in Charleston at a beautiful beach house on Isle of Palms.

our beach house for the workshops

I've been working as the kitchen manager/chef for two photo workshops taught by food photographers Helene Dujardin, Clare Barboza, with the second workshop also featuring food stylist Tami Hardeman.
For each workshop/retreat, we had 12 women staying under one roof, and eating/sleeping/breathing/learning the ins and outs of food photography.   These women, although strangers to begin, formed tremendous bonds & great friendships throughout the course of the weekend.  While we had a few "local" participants, most flew in from places as far away as New Zealand, Hungary, Japan, and Canada!  

TL: Workshop 2 Ice Cream Bar; TR: Melissa, Stacy & Alysha at the Workshop 1 First Dinner
BL: Kriszti, Karen & Tiffany Picnic shoot WS 1; BR: WS 2 First Dinner

during the intro information sessions

My role was to keep them well fed (heaven forbid anyone should attend a food photography workshop and be hungry), as well as to assist with coordinating food for the food photo shoots.   I had some help  from a few Culinary Institute of Charleston students who volunteered their time.  I couldn't have done it without them!
TL: Dina setting up a shot; TL: Helene holds a reflector for Danielle
BL: Helene & Clare assist students at WS2; BR: Maggie checks her image at the Farmers' Market

TL: Claire's Antipasto Shoot set up; TR: Eggs and Radishes from the Farmers' market
BL: a student's dessert shoot set up from WS 1; BR: Tami helps Chiaki with a wrap for the picnic photo shoot 

Outside of the food photo shoots set up in the beach house, there was also down time to visit the beach (we were staying at a beach house, after all!)...

Top: Shadows of Dina & Tiffany as they take photos at the beach
BL: Christina & Julie walk towards the beach; BR: Liz captures a few shots of the foggy beach

...a chance on Saturday morning to document the bounty of the Charleston Farmers's Market...

TL: a barista making my mocha; TR: part of the market
BL: Nigel, the ENORMOUS bullmastif we met at the market; BR: my finished mocha 

 TL: heirloom tomatoes; TR: beautifully colored radishes
BL: lovely beans ; BR: cheerful zinnias 

...and the opportunity to photograph & eat an amazing meal at Lana in Downtown Charleston...  We were given free reign to take photos in the restaurant (anywhere we wanted) before sitting down to a fantastic meal.

TL: Lots of cameras at this restaurant! TR: Kyle gets a shot of the bar
BL: Libby takes a photo; BR: a self portrait

interior shots at Lana

T: Helene talks to the guys on the line
BL: Chef John Ondo; BR: table set & special menu for our group 

T: Bread sliced for table service
B: Appetizers for the first workshop

The amazing vegetable plate at the first workshop's dinner

TL: Gelato (Gluten Free!) from WS 1; TR: Olive Oil Cake from WS 1
BL: Honey Panna Cotta with Figs from WS 2; BR: Gelato consumed from WS 1

 TL: Bill, Helene, & Julie from WS 2; TR: Tami from WS2
B: Kyle & Stacy from WS 2

T: Great laughs from Stacy, Alysha, Libby, Kriszti, and Tiffany from WS 1
B: Claire, Amy, and Anna from WS 1 

 T: Liz & Lisa from WS 2
M: Liz, Lisa & Maggie from WS 2
B: Chiaki from WS 2 (with back of Sylvie & Kyoko's heads)

Helene and Clare make it their mission at these workshops to have each participant develop their own food photography style, rather than just copying how Helene and Clare shoot.  At the end of the workshop, due to participant request, Helene and Clare did demonstrate how they set up a shot (with Tami assisting at the second workshop).  Tami also brought out her styling tweezers (where her blog gets it's title) and showed us how to style (usually not beautiful) beef stew and how to construct a sandwich for styling.  

 TL: The tweezers come out for styling beef stew during WS 2; 
TR: Helene makes a poached egg for Anna to shoot during the brunch photo shoot of WS 1; 
BL: Helene sets up a test shot for her shrimp and grits demo with Tami
BR: Tami puts the finishing mustard garnish on the sandwich she built for Clare to shoot

Clare's rustic picnic set up, with the sandwich built & styled by Tami

To close the workshops, we had one final 3-course dinner on Sunday night. One last celebration before everyone parted ways....  

TR: 2nd course of Roasted Steelhead Trout over Rosemary Thyme Roasted Potatoes with a green salad
B: Coriander Lemon Pot de Cremes with Black Pepper Shortbread 

I am so very thankful for the opportunity to work and learn alongside such amazing, talented women.  It has warmed my heart to have these new friendships & to see how their photos (and confidence) improved throughout the course of the workshops.  I look forward to seeing their future work!   

Much of the food I prepared during the course of the workshops were things of Helene's creation.  These honey pecans, which we served on the opening night's ice cream bar, are one such item.  Except, we made them without a recipe (*gasp*).  Several participants have requested a formula for the honey pecans, so I have come up with one.  

While they are really quite simple to make & wonderful to eat on their own, they also make a wonderful addition to an ice cream sundae already topped with homemade sauces.  Or, like the Japanese ladies did during the second workshop, sprinkled on top of a freshly toasted, cream cheese smeared bagel.  Enjoy!  

Honey Pecans
with Thanksgiving in just a couple of days, these versatile nuts could be a welcome addition to any menu.  Eat them on their own.  Toss them into a green salad.  Top a sweet potato casserole or pumpkin with them.  

3/4 c Pecans (approx. 2.8 oz)
1 Tbl Honey (approx. 19 g)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.  Mix the pecans and honey together until the pecans are well coated.  Pour out onto the prepared baking sheet.
3.  Roast for approximately 10 minutes, or until dark, but not burned.  Cool & chop, if desired.
4.  Store in an airtight container.


  1. Yum! Those pecans were delicious and it was wonderful to have you there for the workshop!

  2. Such a great recap of one the best times I have ever had. I'm so glad we met and I'm thankful I got to eat some of your great cooking! Take care an I will definitely be following your blog!

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  4. I LOVE all the pictures! Every single one with all of us laughing just put a smile on my face! What a wonderful workshop and so many great people! I'm so blessed to have met you all!

  5. Beautiful Laura!!

  6. izeabsLaura,
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos. I loved seeing you with camera in hand. Also, I did not go hungry tee he he. Yes, your food was delicious and it was truly a pleasure meeting you and forming the friendships at the workshop.

    I love nuts and who doesn't love sharing them this time of year. A lovely hostess gift, I'd say. :")
    Merry Christmas to you,