You see it immediately in the photographs of the recipes she creates. Photographs that are effortlessly styled, that convey a simplicity that sweetly echoes her deliciously fresh and never forced rustic flair.  It just organically shines through: Heart and soul.

FoodieCrush Magazine Tartelette Squash Blossoms

As a former pastry chef, Helene Dujardin brings that heart and soul to the table. A self taught photographer and stylist—recently named’s 2011 Best Special Interest blog thanks to a gluten-free focus—Helene imparts her French roots, memories and traditions into her warm and welcoming writings, photos and recipes on the award winning blog Tartelette.

FoodieCrush Magazine Tartelette Peaches

Helene’s recipes trend toward the sweet rather than savory with tempting takes on sweets such as Roasted Apricots and Lavender Panna Cotta and Plum Raspberry Cardamom Crumbles. In my mind (and I’m sure for many of her readers) Helene’s recipes and musings create the illusion that if we shared the same neighborhood I might catch her at the weekend farmer’s market where she’d be searching out fresh, seasonal produce, visiting with vendors and friends and then bicycling back home on her old-school cruiser, her bike basket overflowing with fresh produce and a bottle of wine.

She’d be off to create a quick Blackberry Apple Galettes and Burnt Sugar Ice Cream, a dessert that perfumes her home, tempting neighbors to drop in to enjoy an afternoon sweet and a chilled glass of fresh lemonade in the backyard, under the pecan tree.

FoodieCrush Magazine Tartelette

FoodieCrush Magazine Tartelette Macaroon Tart

Ahhhh, tranquility with a touch of romance.

But behind the tranquil Tartelette there is a woman who doesn’t quit moving, who has her hands in multiple projects and is generous to offer advice and friendship to fellow food bloggers and followers. After photographing several cookbooks including Deliciously Organic, Tart Love and Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, Helene is now sharing her expertise as a food photographer, stylist and teacher in her recently released book Plate to Pixel, Digital Food Photography and Styling.

We wanted to get to know Helene beyond the blog, to see if our romanticized perceptions of her life were notions or reality.

Thank you Helene, for being our foodiecrush!

FoodieCrush Magazine Tartelette Helen Dujardin

1. Describe your blog in 3 words:
Nostalgic. Heartfelt. Storytelling.

2. If you could be one food blogger other than yourself, who would you be?
My friend Anita from Married With Dinner. Because she’s smart, generous, honest. Now, Anita is part of a trio I call “the three muskeeters” because they hold me tight and are the embodiment of authenticity. So ideally, I’d love to be 1/3 Anita, 1/3 Jen and 1/3 Jeanne

3. Which 3 blogs do you follow/are obsessed with/can’t live a day without?
Décor 8 by Holly Becker
A Photo Editor by Rob Haggart
Ordinary Courage by Brené Brown
Lots of style, lots of photography and lots of soul. Not necessarily obsessed with but definitely checking every day!

4. What is the one kitchen tool you could never give up?
My chef knife. Shorter blade from my days back at the restaurant to fit my small hands. Close second would be my whisk.

5. What dish are you obsessed with mastering that you just can’t get quite right?
My dad’s Osso Bucco. That’s his signature dish.

6. What did you have for dinner last night?
It all came from the farmers market here in Charleston: pork chop I get from my friend Jason’s company Meathouse, oven “fried” green tomatoes and field peas salad (heirloom tomatoes, avocado, field peas, vinaigrette). Truly, I have embraced my Southern home!

7. What’s one secret talent outside of the kitchen nobody knows about you:
I have the biggest memory bank you’ll ever find. I remember everything. Hands down seriously. It’s a bit of a curse a times because I can’t avoid a situation by simply saying “I don’t remember.” Ok, so it’s not a real talent. How about this? I can’t sit still and just watch TV so I have my cross-stitch next to the couch and cross-stitch away whenever we watch a movie or the news.

8. You’re happiest when cooking/eating:
For the people I love.

9. In your book, Plate to Pixel, you educate the reader about food photography and styling. What is the one technique in food photography or styling you find yourself surprised that you use again and again?
Honestly? All. Everything. Not necessarily together and not always all the time. Seriously though, whether it is camera modes, settings, capturing light and using it, composition or styling, photography is a series of decisions about what resources or techniques you are going to use to help you create a story with a picture. I guess you could say that my one technique would be to focus your sensibility on the story or the person(s) behind the recipe/dish.

10. The one secret ingredient to your success is:
Pour your heart out in everything you do and keep negatives away.

A great note to end on, thanks Helene! And now…

In addition to writing a book, photographing a few cookbooks and writing her blog, Helene teaches hands-on photography and food styling workshops across the country. (also here and here)

Which leads us to our super exciting announcement!

Helene and her students at the Ace Photo Camp in Santa Fe

Helene will be in Park City, Utah where she’ll be leading a workshop on food photography for attendees of the Evo Conference 2011 on Friday, July 8.

But on Wednesday July 6, in celebration of the release of a her book Plate to Pixel, Helene will be leading a food photography and styling workshop here in Salt Lake City, Utah. FoodieCrush is thrilled to sponsor this event and is giving you the opportunity to learn from her in an intimate venue, limited to just 12 students, your cameras and Utah’s gorgeous natural light. And one lucky reader just may get to do it at no cost–FOR FREE!”

You’ll  spend the afternoon with Helene and just 12 other students, receiving personal instruction on how to improve your own photography and ultimately, your blog.

To get the class description and reserve a spot, just e-mail Workshop spots will go fast so don’t dilly dally in making your decision.

But, if you don’t happen to make the cut…

We’re giving away ONE FREE SPOT for a lucky FoodieCrush and Taretlette fan. To enter the contest to win the free workshop spot, you must do these two things:

1. Like FoodieCrush magazine and Tartelette on Facebook

2. Leave a comment on this post and tell us why your photography needs Helene’s help.

If you purchase a ticket and win the prize, we’ll refund your money for the original ticket and open the spot to the next in line. Its a win-win all around! Good luck.

all photos courtesy of Helene Dujardin

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