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workshop feb 2020

On February 22, 2020 I will hold a two day Italian Food Photography Workshop organized by Fucine Collettive. You can read more about it and register here.






Plated Stories The Workshop bigger


Date: November 6 – 10, 2019

Venue: Hôtel Diderot, Chinon, France

Cost (in euros): €1750*

Invest in your future

Writer or photographer, blogger or professional, beginner or seasoned, whether oriented towards food, travel or another specialty, you desire to expand your creative horizons. We often feel boxed in by personal and professional limits, and have trouble breaking out of a rut. During this 4-day workshop, you will find new tools to unleash your creative ideas and find the confidence to go beyond the boundaries we each set for ourselves. 

We will alternate discussions on creativity, process, writing and photography with practical exercises that will help you to reflect on what you are doing, set new goals, and inspire you to start thinking about a new approach to your work.

Where photography is concerned, the introduction of the digital camera made photography accessible to everyone yet the possibility to shoot and process an endless number of photos rapidly has made photography a casual and disposable commodity that is carried out without much thought. When it comes to writing, the internet gave everyone the possibility to blog and write without guidance, yet over time standards were set and became our guidelines, stifling our spontaneity thus limiting our creative potential. We started thinking inside a closed box of what was possible and what was expected.

We will alternate discussions on creativity, writing, and photography with practical exercises that will help you to understand your current process and how you approach your work. The discussions, individual and group coaching, and exercises will set you on the path to thinking differently about your work and will give you the necessary tools to move from your safe space to a more deeply personal and innovative place.

Each focused exercise is structured in four steps: discussion, assignment, presentation, and analysis. The discussion will help you to reassess what you want to convey with your images and your writing, the assignment will challenge you to realize your thoughts be it on paper or in the camera, and the presentation will give you the opportunity to explain your line of thinking and to be critiqued. 

The workshop is limited to a maximum 8 participants, creating a more intimate group, allowing for hands-on work and exercises, more individual analysis and coaching, roundtable discussions and lively exchange. 

In addition to time spent writing and in conversation, we will also have outings. The weekend features culinary excursions unique to Chinon and the Loire Valley. There is a wine tasting followed by a wine-paired meal at a family-owned wine domain, the Château du Petit Thouars. The retreat offers time to wander Chinon’s farmer’s market and old town, as well as  a meditative walk to the fortress above.

Inspired by the beauty of a cobbled French town, lovely lodgings at a 15th Century hotel, and practical exercises and prompts, you will take your ideas, photography and/or writing in new directions. Towards the end, each participant will have a 30-minute, personal, one-on-one consultation with each instructor.

The workshop fueled my creative energy. The workshop and the entire experience was nothing short of brilliant! – Ken

Pot-au-Feu-1After the wine tasting, a traditional French lunch in front of a blazing fire at Château du Petit Thouars (photo by Brenda Athanus)

Our workshop will be held 6-10 November (Wednesday 6 November lunch through Saturday night with departure Sunday 10 November after breakfast) at the Hôtel Diderot, an enchanting 27-room auberge de charme dating from the 15th and 18th Centuries. It is located in the center of the medieval French town of Chinon on the banks of the Vienne River, nestled in the Loire Valley, about 150 miles from Paris. 


The cost for the 4-day workshop is € 1750 (euros) and includes all workshop sessions, accommodations for 4 nights (single occupancy) at Hôtel Diderot, 4 breakfasts, 4 lunches including one lunch with tour and wine tasting at Château de Petit Thouars, 3 dinners including one at a local restaurant, and snacks and refreshments during the workshop. Workshop cost will not include airfare or transportation to or from the venue or insurance.

* As the price of the workshop is in euros, please check the exchange rate for your local currency on the day of purchase.


The Instructors




Ilva Beretta is a Swedish photographer living in Italy. As a photographer, she gravitates towards  food as subject matter, both as a fine arts photographer and in her professional work. She has a Ph.D. in English Renaissance poetry but has long abandoned the word for the visual image; her academic past evidently influences her visual research which is manifest in her interest in the perception of temporality and the mechanisms of memory which she explores in her still lifes.

Ilva has been recognized internationally: Finalist in the 2019 IACP Awards Best Editorial/Personal Photograph, shortlisted at the 2019 Athens Food Photo Festival, finalist in the 2019 SIPA Awards, Silver in the Fine Art Still Life category in the 2018 Px3 Paris Photography Prize, finalist in the 2016 Sony World Photography Awards, finalist in the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Years Award, winner in the 2014 International Association of Culinary Professionals in the Digital Media Award category among others. Exhibitions: 2019 group show Febal, Italy and at Pitti Immagine Taste,  2017 solo show at the Galleria Grefti and the group show Foodographia, Italy. In 2016 she participated in Sony World Photography exhibition and the Pink Lady Food Photography exhibition, both in London. 2013 participated in the EatArt exhibition at the Spazio San Giorgio gallery, Italy. To see her work visit and


Jamie Schler is an IACP award-winning writer as well as hotel owner and jam maker in Chinon, France. After working as a culinary guide in gastronomic tourism in Paris and as interpreter at the prestigious École Ferrandi in Paris, and recipe editor and assistant editor for Master Chef magazine, she combined her passions for food and storytelling to forge a career as a writer specializing in food, culture and family.

Jamie’s writing and recipes have been published in The Washington Post, The Art of Eating, France Magazine, Modern Farmer, Paste Magazine, Leite’s Culinaria, The Kitchn, Good Housekeeping, TED Weekends, among others. She contributes regularly to Fine Cooking and was a longtime writer for Huffington Post Food

Her writing has been recognized with an MFK Fisher Award for Excellence in Culinary Writing by Les Dames d’Escoffier; her blog Life’s a Feast won the 2017 International Association of Culinary Professionals’ Best Narrative Culinary Blog; she was the writing half of the team behind the experimental blog Plated Stories which was the 2014 IACP Digital Media Awards winner for Best Photo-Based Blog and a Finalist in Saveur Magazine’s Best Blog Awards in the category Best Writing. Read more at

Jamie’ first cookbook Orange Appeal (photography Ilva Beretta) was selected by Southern Living Magazine as “one of our favorite books of the season” and was written up in The Chicago Tribune, The Jerusalem Post, The San Diego-Union Tribune, The Post and Courier, France Magazine, and Natural Awakenings Magazine. She has spoken and taught at events and workshops around the world, including Muscat, London, New Orleans, Cape Town, San Francisco, Chicago, Louisville, New York and at her own workshops around Europe since 2010.

Writing sessionThe Plated Stories workshop was truly life altering for me. My business has taken such a rewarding turn since applying the knowledge and inspiration that I gleaned from my time with Ilva & Jamie. – Briana

The Venue

collage chinon

The Hôtel Diderot is an enchanting 27-room auberge de charme dating from the 15th and 18th Centuries in the center of the medieval French town of Chinon on the banks of the Vienne River. Visit the website here.


The hotel is situated a stone’s throw from the center of old Chinon, a stone’s throw from the Château de Chinon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in the heart of the Loire Valley and the Chinon vineyards. Chinon has inspired such great writers as native son François Rabelais, author of the tales of Gargantua & Pantagruel and Honoré de Balzac, author of La Comédie Humaine, who sojourned just outside the city for many years. The newly renovated fortress perched majestically above the hotel and the city’s center, long the royal demure of the French and English courts, was where Joan of Arc first met Charles VII.

Chinon architecture

The city of Chinon, nestled in the lush and temperate Loire Valley, is an important wine region producing world-class wines, stunning reds from the very old Cabernet Franc grape, rosés, and whites. Chinon wines, whether light and fruity or bold and complex, pair perfectly with the local river fish, asparagus, berries, fresh or aged goat cheese, pork rillettes and rillons, or the unusual poire tapée. The valley surrounding Chinon is famous for saffron, apples and pears, and has become France’s major producers of black truffles, la Truffe Rabelaisienne. And don’t leave without tasting the tarte vigneron! For a small town, Chinon is a privileged gastronomic destination with a generous selection of excellent restaurants and bistros gourmandes.

Chinon homes

For any questions or further information, email us at