Life Changers

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“Sometimes you get an unexpected gift in life that elevates you to a new place”.

That’s a quote in the acknowledgement section of my cook book “A Big Bowl of Love” I worked on with Diane Cu and Todd Porter from  The rest of the acknowledgement reads,

“It was as if a special force brought us together somehow. The whole experience working with them was magical and effortless, even though we had the monumental task of getting more than two hundred photos finished in a very short time. I fell in love with the both of them on day one. Their passion for life, food and each other is inspiring. Their kindness patience, and generosity are overwhelming! Thank you, Diane and Todd- I can’t wait to do it again!”

I first learned of “White on Rice” from my publisher who gave me over 50 food photographers to look at for my new cook book, A Big Bowl of Love”. I was excited to receive the list and couldn’t wait to get started. I was determined to look at every single site so I could make the best possible decision. I knew EXACTLY what I was looking for, photographs that jumped right off the page and spoke to you while it ignited your sense of sight, taste and smell. I was looking for passion, love, beautiful lighting, styling that was different from other cook books and a richness of depth and color that would bring my book to life.

Alexandra, Diane and me!

I sat down to begin my long task of finding a photographer. I started with the first on the list and didn’t go any further than the second, a site called White on Rice.  The moment I opened I stopped dead in my tracks. I was instantly whisked away into a world where love, passion, kindness, respect, fun and beauty lived. Every photo spoke to me, every word written touched me in such a profound way that it stirred me from the inside out. I didn’t look any further I knew that these were the people I wanted to photograph my book.

I quickly phoned the publisher to say I found the photographers and he asked me if I had looked at everyone and I said, “no”. He asked me how many did I go through, I told him two. He very sternly said to me that I needed to go through at least half so I can make a decision by comparison, that I couldn’t possibly make a decision by looking at only two photographers. I told him I didn’t need to, that Diane and Todd where exactly what I was looking for, I knew it in my gut.  When I sent him the link to their site he immediately phoned me back to say that he LOVED the photos, great choice and to go ahead and contact them. Okay so now I’m super excited and freaking out a bit because I never thought I would get them on such short notice. We had a very small window before deadline and needed to get this done asap.

Diane did not call me back until two days later (they were on assignment) and to be honest I was a bit intimidated. I thought for sure that this wasn’t going to work out. I explained about the timing issues and she suggested we meet in person to discuss what needed to be done to see if it could work.  I remember the first time I met both Diane and Todd as they greeted me with big warm smiles. I wanted to give them a great big hug  so I did, I liked them immediately. I explained what needed to be done, 200 photo’s of food in 6 weeks. Everything was going to be done from my house with me cooking every single dish and my daughter Alexandra, who is also a chef would be helping. They told me they first had to see if they could move several projects around and would let me know. It was a whole week before they got back to me but the news was good we would start in three days! Yikes, I had to hustle to get ready!

After only two days of shooting we caught on to each others rhythm and we finished the photography in 3 weeks. I couldn’t wait every morning for them to get to the house and start shooting. It was so much fun, we played music, talked, bonded over our love of food, family, travel, people, and ate everything we cooked that day! At the end of the day they sat down with me, my husband Tony, Alex, Arianna, my other daughter to explain to us about social media the blogging community and how important it was to “network”.  They helped us set up Twitter and Face Book and spent countless hours going over how it all worked. Tony, Alex and Ari caught on in a second, me not so much but I was determined to fit into this new world!

One of the things that Diane and Todd spoke to me about was the blogging community how it was filled with the most wonderful people. How both she and Todd have met and made so many new friends that have brought new meaning into their lives.

She was so right, I realized quickly what a wonderful world these bloggers live in and what truly gracious and nice people they are. I wanted to go and live there with them, I wanted to share my passion and learn about theirs. I have attended many blogger events and have come away with new friends that have been a true blessing in my life. Who knew?

I attended such an event last week that Diane and Todd hosted in their beautiful new studio. I call these events “Life Changers” because I always meet new people who come into my life unexpectedly and end up making a difference in my life and changing me for the better. Diane asked if my daughter Alex and I would come to do a cooking demo for some 40 on line food and life style bloggers she would be hosting. She didn’t get the whole sentence out before I said yes! The afternoon was going to be sponsored by Kitchen Aid! I would get to use all of their wonderful equipment! That came in so handy because the day before the event I went to the studio to help make 300 cup cakes from Joy the Bakers new cook book.

Joy The Baker would be giving a demo from her new cookbook, “Joy the Baker” which is fabulous by the way. I couldn’t find my copy she autographed for me the other day when I was looking for it. I found out my other daughter Arianna who loves to bake took it home with her and she baked from it all weekend. She phoned me to tell me how much she really loves the book and how easy the recipes were to follow, how pretty everything turned out and most important how delicious everything was. I guess I have to go out and get another copy because that one is gone for sure.


Baking 300 cupcakes for the event!

I love this woman!


Kitchen Aid! (The red one makes me crazy! Love it!)

I made my potato plates and Alex made zucchini and cucumber carpaccio using the Kitchen Aid food processor. It was effortless and every slice perfection! It looked so professional!

Photos by Diane Cu and Todd Porter

Recipes for the Potato Plates and Zucchini and Cucumber Carpaccio in “Appetizers & Salads” in the COOKING section.

Before we started our demo Todd and Diane gave an emotional, soulful presentation on their personal journey that they share together, traveling the world and doing what they love. No one made a sound during the presentation as they spoke about their vision, and shared inspirational photos and videos helping us find our own voice and vision and how to achieve that. After it was over no one moved for a few moments, we couldn’t we had to collect ourselves as we wiped our eyes glistening with tears. True to form Diane  enthusiastically invited all of us to partake in the food she so lovingly prepared for us to enjoy while Joy, Alex and I got ready to do our demo and prepare for lunch.

After we ate Joy showed us how to make the PERFECT frosting with meringue as she told stories about her adventures that made us laugh. She was charming, engaging and whips up a mean meringue!

Afterwards we all got to frost our own cupcakes and take some home. I ate all mine.

I left with a happy heart and feel so lucky to be a part of this special world, a place where there is support and encouragement to do what you love!

Thank you Rachael Barbarotta from Kitchen Aid, it was such a pleasure, you are one of those unexpected special connections I was talking about.

Thank you Diane and Todd for a wonderful heartfelt day!

Thank you for being in my life. Thank you for sharing your vision. Thank you for your generosity, selflessness, kindness, and gentle spirit. Thank you for showing me how sharing your passion with others truly makes a difference in others people life. It certainly helped me to get outside of myself and let other people in. It’s liberating and I grateful.

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