Rachael Hutchings of La Fuji Mama plus Peko Peko Giveaway

FoodieCrush Magazine La Fuji Mama Rachael Hutchings

Germany. Paris. Hungary. Malaysia. Tennessee. Japan. So Cal. Slovenia. Italy. China.

The influences from travel and living abroad for Rachael Hutchings, author and creator of the popular blog La Fuji Mama, reads like the passport of a member of the United Nations assembly. Thank goodness, because her recipes do too.

FoodieCrush Magazine La Fuji Mama Eggs Benedict Pagoda

Spanning the globe of culinary influences, you’ll find Rachael mentoring a young blogger about a fav Japanese comfort dish: Oyakodon and next posting an homage to her family’s history with her grandmother’s traditional German recipe of spaetzle and lentils.

FoodieCrush Magazine La Fuji Mama Swedish Pancakes Rachael’s recipes, varied and catering totally crave-able, sound delicious to adults but what’s the tactic when serving up non-standard american fare to your picky four year old who adamantly and defiantly declares “its-green-or-fishy-and-it’s-gross”?

Well, don’t expect this food blogging mama to let her kids subsist on nuggets and mac and cheese for every meal just because they might have to try something “different” for dinner. Rachael’s passionate mission is to “bring world flavors to the family dinner table” and with her rule of “try it just once”, she’s a model for parents around the globe to encouraging healthy—and varied—eating habits in their children and families worldwide.

FoodieCrush Magazine La Fuji Mama Rachael Hutchings
And now there’s another mission. A mission that has been massively influenced by Rachael’s two-time residency in Japan, and the heartbreak and tragedy of thousands of people, thousands of families, that continues to exist while the rest of the world moves forward.

The earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan is now well-documented. The real-time video of flooding and devastation of Northeastern Honshu where water and debris claimed everything in tis path will never leave our memories.

FoodieCrush Magazine Peko Peko CookbookIn a tribute to those Japanese that fell victim, and in an effort to help the rest who are rebuilding their lives, Rachael joined forces with Stacie of One Hungry Mama and Marc of No Recipes and assembled over 70 contributors to generously donate their time and talents to create Peko Peko, Family Friendly Japanese Cuisine.

Peko Peko contains 50 family friendly Japanese recipes from some of your favorite foodie bloggers like Steamy Kitchen, Zen Can Cook, Cookin’ Canuk, and Silvana’s Kitchen among others. 100% of the profits of this book go to the foundation GlobalGiving Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. And thanks to their philanthropy, cooking is doing good things.

We wanted to know more about Rachael, her passion in co-creating Peko Peko and what else inspires the culinary travels she creates for her readers.

Thanks Rachael for being our foodiecrush!

1. Describe your blog in 3 words:
International recipes & chocolate.  I have a confession to make. I was drawing a total blank on this question. 3 words? Sigh, I guess I’m too verbose.  So I have to give Amy Sherman of Cooking with Amy all the credit, because she came up with them when my brain wasn’t working.

2. If you could be one food blogger other than yourself, who would you be?
My friend Rachael White who writes Tokyo Terrace, because she lives in Tokyo, a place I miss dearly, she’s an incredibly talented, sweet, and generous person, and her name wouldn’t be all that hard to get used to!

3. Which 3 blogs do you follow/are obsessed with/can’t live a day without?
It’s too hard to narrow it down to 3! Hmmm, how about I share 3 that have had the biggest impact on me recently?
Eating Rules by Andrew Wilder
– Flanboyant Eats by Bren Herrera
Indian Simmer by Prerna Singh

4. What is the one kitchen tool you could never give up?
My favorite wooden spoon—I use it for everything!

5. What dish are you obsessed with mastering that you just can’t get quite right?
The perfect chocolate truffle tart.  I think it’s going to take a lifetime of practice to get it right. At least that’s what I’m going to tell anyone who questions why I’m making a chocolate truffle tart for the ten trillionth time.  Also, homemade soba noodles.  Making perfect soba noodles is an art.  I’ve taken several classes from Akila Inouye, an incredible soba master who runs the Tsukiji Soba Academy in Tokyo, and I’m addicted to the process, but have a lot still to learn!

6. What did you have for dinner last night?
Homemade miso soup with tofu, wakame, and shiitake mushrooms; steamed brown rice with a ground pork miso sauce; grilled peaches with strawberry coconut ice cream.

7. What’s one secret talent outside of the kitchen nobody knows about you?
I play the piano and the French horn.

8. You’re happiest when cooking/eating:
With my family and friends.

9. There were nearly 70 contributors who donated time and resources to create Peko Peko for those in Japan who have suffered an astonishing tragedy. From both this experience and your fellow contributors, how did Peko Peko change and influence your own life?
For me it gave me a way to turn my energy away from sitting glued to the TV watching the footage of the devastation to a more positive outlet.  This book gave me something meaningful to do.  This book was meant not only to raise money to help the relief efforts in Japan, but also to be a tribute.  I think we accomplished that, as I truly feel that we all gave a piece of ourselves to this book.  I was touched by the incredible amount of time that was given to this project by so many people.  Our book designer, Rieko, made the book more beautiful than I could have ever imagined, donating more hours than I’m sure most of us would guess.  Our logo designer, Ayaka Ito, came up with a logo that still pulls at my heart every time I look at it.  If you haven’t figured it out, it’s the Japanese flag, but instead of the normal red circle on the white flag, it’s a drop, which could be interpreted as a tear, or as blood, or as the tsunami waters washing over the flag.  Some of our contributors have strong ties to Japan, while others used the invitation to contribute as an opportunity to learn something new.  I was so touched by each recipe that came in, representing the talent and love of so many talented people.

10. The one secret ingredient to your success is:
Always be you, and never be ashamed of who that person is. There is no other person exactly like you, so if you spend energy trying to be like someone else, you are wasting the opportunity to be the most incredible you there is!

FoodieCrush Magazine La Fuji Mama Rachael HutchingsWe think Rachael’s pretty incredible herself with her charitable acts and family focus. And thanks to the evidence above, we know she’s pretty fun to be around too.

Get a copy of Peko Peko for your own. Yes, you should definitely buy Peko Peko charity cookbook for yourself and we’re buying one too.

You can also enter to win our copy, and if you win, share the spirit of love it was created in and give one to a friend so you can both cook your way through Japan and pass along the spirit the book was created in..

1. Go to Facebook and like Peko Peko and FoodieCrush magazine
2. Enter a comment below and share your favorite Japanese foodie dish plus that you’ve liked us on Facebook

Good luck, and domo arigato. (bow)

photos courtesy La Fuji Mama

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And the winner of the Tartelette/Helene Dujardin Photo Workshop is…

photo > Helene Dujardin/Tartelette

Look at that gorgeous photo. The lighting, the composition, the styling. All of the elements that make food-picture-making an art. And you ask yourself, “Why can’t I take pictures like her?”

Well now its your chance to be a picture taker and learn from Plate to Pixel, Digital Food Photography and Styling photographer and author Helene Dujardin. We’re pleased to sponsor the workshop and a spot at her Salt Lake City photo workshop at the SLC favorite Market Street Grill Cottonwood.

You commented, you liked and now one of you has won.

And the winner is:

Radhika from the blog Just Homemade. Congrats Radhika, we’ll see you in July.

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Helene Dujardin of Tartelette plus Photo Workshop Giveaway

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 Saveur.com’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 [email protected]. 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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Interview with Matt Armendariz of Matt Bites & Giveaway

FoodieCrush magazine Matt Armendariz Matt Bites Food On a Stick!photoGabriel Goldberg

Inspirational. To me that’s the elemental word that describes art director/turned-photographer/turned-blogger Matt Armendariz, creator of the photo-driven blog Matt Bites. Finding Matt’s blog was a turning point for me—proof that you can take a left turn from your original destination and turn a passion into a career.

Migrating from a career as a successful art director and graphic designer, Matt switched career paths and delved headstrong into photography and now creates images for clients like Whole Foods Market, Fiji Water and Pom Wonderful. He’s also been seen in and contributed to Martha Stewart, Cooking Light and Time magazine among others.

Oh yeah, he’s cooked mano a mano with her…

And then of course, at the heart of his foodie empire, there is the blog. Matt Bites was one of the first food blogs I was really attracted to, thanks to Matt’s mad typography skills and creative and conceptual treatments with his photos. Ahhhh, the photos. Yes, I have a major crush on his  sumptuous but simply styled photos that are often accented with just a touch of humor. Matt Bites is certainly not your average food blog. But then Matt isn’t your average food blogger.

Matt’s wit, graciousness and self effaced disposition is evident in every word and story he shares.  His story telling and generous glimpses into his life and work makes each reader feel as if they could ring him up to meet for happy hour margaritas or shoot him an e-mail for suggestions on the best eats in Georgia. Or Los Angeles. Or Seoul, Korea. (Did I mention he’s also a well-traveled man?)

FoodieCrush magazine Matt Armendariz On a Stick

And now, after working on several cookbook ventures for others, Matt has plunged into the foray himself. Combining talents with husband–partner–and food stylist Adam Pearson, Matt has created the book Food on a Stick!, featuring recipes that are simple to prepare and easy to eat, perfect for noshing while balancing a beverage and mingling with your favorite friends or prepping for a playdate for a gaggle of 9-year-olds. Matt’s humor and playfulness shine through in concept, content and delivery, making Food on a Stick! a go-to appetizer resource for guests of all ages.

As always, we wanted to learn more about the man behind the lens. Thank you Matt for being our foodiecrush!

1. Describe your blog in 3 words:
Fun, irreverent, colorful. Three more words? Honest, scatterbrained, loving.

2. If you could be one food blogger other than yourself, who would you be?
David Lebovitz. I would get to eat pastries all day in Paris, walk the streets with a baguette in my arm and wear a beret. He’s going to kill me for saying all this.

3. Which 3 blogs do you follow/are obsessed with/can’t live a day without?
David Lebovitz – because David really lives life to the fullest and offers his take like no other. And even though he’s one of my best friends I’m still obsessed with his blog and his writing because he’s such a wonderful person.
A Photo Editor – I love that Rob keeps me updated with all things photography related. It’s like I get these little photo briefs every day and it keeps me in touch with my photographic side.
The Sartorialist – I love fashion, I love the interesting characters that show up on the pages of Sartorialist.

4. What is the one kitchen tool you could never give up?
A great knife. I can do just about anything. Oh, wait, I mean a bottle opener.

5. What dish are you obsessed with mastering that you just can’t get quite right?
Seafood Crustacean Oil Spaghetti with Sakura Ebi that I had in Singapore. I know I’ll never get it exactly the same but I’d be happy with a decent homemade version. Still can’t get it right.

6. What did you have for dinner last night?
Pizza Margherita done in a true Napoletana style from a pizzeria near my house.

7. What’s one secret talent outside of the kitchen nobody knows about you?
I play the piano.

8. You’re happiest when cooking/eating?
With friends.

9. From your book, On a Stick!, you’ve skewered everything from spaghetti and meatballs to smores. So, what was the most surprising dish on a stick?
I can’t really pick one that was surprising, I think they’re all really flavorful. Chicken and Waffles on a stick is really super delicious, though.

10. The one secret ingredient to your success is:
To smile and be polite. It’s gotten me farther than you’d ever imagine.

FoodieCrush Magazine Matt Armendariz Adam Pearsonphoto > Matt Bites
And now you can get a copy of your own to use all summer long. Enter the foodiecrush On a Stick! cookbook GIVEAWAY! Just place a comment at the end of the post and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Matt’s new book, On a Stick!

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