A few of my favorite things: a breathtaking view of the city, local writers and one killer menu. I would take any one of these on a lovely fall afternoon. On Saturday, I had the good fortune to experience them all at once. A group of food and drink writers gathered at R2L for a meet-up. It was everything I wanted it to be and more.
Several months ago I approached the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) with an idea. I wanted to bring together local food and drink writers with the folks at Philly Homegrown in an effort to continue to build our foodie community. Our writers are passionate about their craft. I knew they would love to have a chance to come together. When I started out writing I never passed on an opportunity to learn from others. This event presented the attendees with an opportunity to engage in a collaborative effort to share knowledge and empower each other.
R2L was gracious enough to host the event. If you have not been to R2L add it to your bucket list a.s.a.p. Located on the 37th floor at Two Liberty Place, they have a birds’ eye view of Philadelphia. Their menu of creative American food by Chef Daniel Stern sets the scene for a spectacular culinary experience. The staff is simply phenomenal. I cannot say enough wonderful things about R2L.
They created an amazing menu of hors d’oeuvres including steak tartare, truffled flatbread, smoked salmon, risotto bites and tuna skewers. Cocktails included the R2L-EVATION (gin, parfait amour, luxardo, fresh lemon, cherry) and a SIDECAR (hennessy vs, pallini limoncello, cointreau, fresh lemon). Did I mention that every guest was greeted at the entrance with a glass of champagne? When I say amazing it is quite the understatement. Plated items for the food photography portion of the workshop included many eye grabbing meals such as the smoked salmon pizza at the top of the page.
Me and Chef Daniel Stern (photo courtesy of The Omnivore)
Chef Daniel Stern greeted the attendees before the workshop. He thanked them for keeping the conversation going about food and being so passionate about the local food scene.
Remaining photos courtesy of A Culinary Journey with Chef Dennis
Caroline Bean (pictured left) and Alethia Calbeck (pictured right) spoke to the group on behalf of GPTMC. In Philadelphia, we are fortunate enough to have Philly Homegrown, an initiative of GPTMC. They promote chefs, restaurants, farms and flavors of the region’s 100-mile foodshed. Their site is a wealth of information on everything you would want to know about how to go local. Upcoming initiatives include a celebration of the hoagie on National Sandwich Day (November 3, 2011); their expanding presence on Foodspotting and news about Philadelphia’s local food online.
Eric Mencher, photographer and guest speaker, wowed the crowd with his some of his adventures from his 35 years as a photojournalist. He advised that the two most important ingredients in food photography are your eye and your camera. If you have an eye, and your eye is key, he advised that you can take memorable photos anywhere and with any kind of camera. Getting in close to the food, to visually express texture, shape and color is also key. He stressed that light, as we all know, can make or break a photo. He encouraged the group to experiment with light, move it around, seeing how and where the light strikes. He suggested shooting into the light, let the background go bright or shoot from above or below so the camera lens is almost touching the dish. He asked the group to move around to find their ideal image. The two tips that he gave at the end of the workshop were the ones he touted as the most important pieces of advice: shoot RAW and use Adobe Lightroom. I wholeheartedly agree with him. Shooting RAW and using Adobe Lightroom has dramatically improved my photos.
Attendees actively photographing the dessert cart
The dessert cart included various, cookies, brownies, cupcakes, tarts and other pastries.
As with previous events, once everyone got their photos, some of the food that was plated became fair game for the attendees. I announced that the dessert cart was up for grabs. Within the blink of an eye it was all gone. Can’t say I blame them. It’s too good to pass up.
I’m still on a post-event high. It truly was better than I could have ever expected. Everyone in attendance was bristling with excitement about the event and the opportunity to spend time together. R2L went above and beyond in every way to make sure everyone had a great experience. Caroline and Alethia were pivotal to bringing this community together to share and learn. Everything was perfect including the weather. The view from R2L is breathtaking. We had the sun shining through the windows, spectacular food and an amazing crowd. Truly wonderful!!!
Check out what some of the other writers had to say about the event: