Plated Stories: The Workshop in Tuscany

I was honored to host a Google + Hangout on Air on Friday with Jamie Schler, Ilva Beretta and Linda Bass. Jamie and Ilva are the formidable writing and photography team behind the Plated Stories Blog. The two of them are joining forces to teach an intensive food writing and food photography workshop, Plated Stories: The Workshop, in conjunction with Linda's Tuscan Muse. We had a really interesting discussion, and Jamie and Ilva's passion for their art and craft truly shined through. Please take some time to watch the hangout (about an hour), especially if you are interested in food writing and/or food photography.

As with any great discussion, I have been thinking about this one ever since. I find myself inspired by all three of these ladies, not only because they are masters but because they were fearless enough to move beyond dreaming and hoping and wishing and right into realizing their dreams. Ilva is a well-respected and gifted food photographer whose photos I find achingly beautiful. Jamie is a consummate wordsmith who inspires me every day to be thoughtful in my own writing. Linda, a trial lawyer turned watercolor artist, realized that the muses in Tuscany are special and made it her goal to bring people together in creativity and passion to commune with the Tuscan Muses.

What's Plated Stories, Anyway?


Photo by Ilva Beretta, used with permission. Please click to go to the post on Plated Stories

Plated Stories is Jamie and Ilva's collaborative blog. Combining Jamie's expressive writing with Ilva's striking photographs, Plated Stories is a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Each half, photos and writing, informs and elevates the other and makes reading each new post a pure pleasure. I was completely unsurprised but thrilled that Jamie and Ilva won the IACP Digital Media Award for Best Photo-Based Blog this year. If you haven't read Plated Stories yet, please go read now. I bet you won't be able to stop with just one post.

My cupboard is filled to overflowing with a profusion of sugar. Dazzlingly deep periwinkle sugars of blueberry, hibiscus and violet. Girly pink bubble gum sugar and pale pink cherry granules. Sparkling sugars in gold and red and blue for tossing across the surface of a cake or dipping the tops of cupcakes or dusting mounds of macarons. Thick, dense, bumpy grains for pretty little chouquettes, grains whiter than white, whiter than freshly fallen snow, whiter than the color of the light bouncing off of Florida sidewalks, blinding. Cassonade, semoule, roux, vergeoise. Sucre glace, sucre en morceaux, sucre blanc and sucre blond.

I am surrounded by sugar. --Jamie Schler, Plated Stories, "Sugar," June 3, 2013

Tell Me More About the Plated Stories: The Workshop

Plated Stories Workshop

Plated Stories: The Workshop is a ten-day adventure in Tuscany. Surrounded by the muses, you will learn from and be inspired by Jamie and Ilva. Jamie will focus on food writing while Ilva's focus is the photography with the goal of helping all participants tell their own stories through words and images. Read more about Plated Stories: The Workshop description on the Tuscan Muse site. If you want to learn from the best in completely inspiring surroundings, you may very well want to register for the workshop, May 22-June 1, 2014.

And now, I have a question for you. As I said earlier, I have really been thinking about our discussion of food writing, food photography and inspiration in general, and I'd like to hear from you. What keeps you coming back to your favorite food blogs? Is it tried-and-true, no-fail recipes, relatable or aspirational stories, or beautiful photography? Or is it some combination of the three. I'd love to hear from you, so please leave a comment.

I do hope you enjoy the Plated Stories: The Workshop discussion as much as I did, and if you have any questions about the workshop in particular or Tuscan Muse in general, feel free to contact Jamie, Ilva or Linda.

Thank you so much for spending some time with me today. Have a lovely day.




  1. says

    Thank you so much for hosting the hangout. It really was fun. Linda is a hoot and she’ll not only be great fun to hang with in Tuscany, but I know she’s organizing an amazing trip for us. And Ilva…. she inspires me every day and her photos leave me breathless. I am so lucky to have her for a partner.

    Thank you, Jenni, for this amazing post and your more than kind words that blow me away. You not only inspire me with your smartness, humor and generosity, but your support and love keep me going.

  2. says

    Photography is a huge factor in my being initially attracted to a blog and wanting to come back to it. However there are blogs I follow where the photos are average but the writing is warm and engaging….and I can’t get enough of those either! As for the recipes, I think all food blogs have something to offer. There’s nothing like the excitement of discovering a blog that is a ‘triple threat’!
    I’ll be going to this workshop and am so excited. The ladies are indeed an inspiration and I can’t wait to meet and learn from them.

    • says

      It’s cool that you like a bit of everything. I do think there is room for all sorts of blogs, Deepa! I know you are going to have a fabulous time with Jamie and Ilva–what an amazing workshop they have planned for you all!

  3. says

    I tend to lean more towards reading blogs with evocative writing and can forgive so-so photos if you engage me in your story. But I do love a little food porn and if your lighting is warm and the caramel drips off the spoon, I’ll be coming back for more. For Plated Stories, I pour myself a nice hot cup of tea and snuggle into Jamie’s prose and Ilva’s photos, like tucking under a cozy blanket to rest. I always know it will be time well spent.

    Time in Tuscany with Jamie and Ilva would be heaven. Perhaps in the next couple of years (Please say there will be future opportunities!) the heavens will align and I’ll be able to go.

    • says

      Maybe I will start saving my pennies and we can meet up at Plated Stories, 2016, Stacy! How amazing would that be? And I completely agree–Plated Stories is so worth the time spent to savor the stories and the photographs!

  4. says

    I don’t think I have any one requirement; some blogs I love for the stories, others because I know I’ll see great photography and some…hey a girl is just looking for something different for dinner!

    I do not consider myself a writer. AT ALL. I love to cook and I’ve grown to love photography but the writing part? That’s when I sit down and feel like I’m doing a job. Should I even share that I was an English major in college? What is up with that? 🙂

    How about I hop over to NC and we make the trip together next year? That would be amazing; seeing my old homeland AND getting to Plated Stories!

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