A Little Extra Relish

We at The Foodie Bugle live for a very defining moment. It is that moment when the index finger goes “click” with the computer mouse and we are transported into the magic land of a really good food blog. Here you will find evocative food writing, beautiful photography, a love of mother nature, good ingredients, people and harmony. The voice of skill speaks out loud and clear. There are so few moments like that, but we knew we had chanced upon one when we arrived at Pascale Cumberbatch’s blog, Extra Relish.

Being greedy and curious, we wanted to know all about her, her work, her training, how her love of good food began and how she carved her career in food styling, photography and writing. Here is what she told us about her blog, her life and her work.

How I came to work as a food photographer, stylist and blogger – by Pascale Cumberbatch.

People often talk about changing careers, but for me, the process has always been more of an evolution. When asked what I do, it is sometimes difficult to give a concise answer because along the path I have picked up strands and they are all woven into the fabric of my work. From a begining in Anthropology (studying food and culture) I evolved into a cook and chef. Moving along, I followed my passion for artistry and visual presentation and set a course into food styling and photography. My blog Extra-Relish is about all of these elements: the photography, the story, family and friends – all bound up in wonderful food. I started the blog about two years ago as a way to share my projects and recipes as well as to present a developing showcase of my work.

Living and working around the world.

Growing up the child of a diplomat, I lived in Europe, Africa, Asia and America through the course of my childhood. After university in California, I carried on travelling and worked for the next ten years in the West Indies, in some brilliant jobs in hospitality and food product development. But in this time, my passion for art and the visual aesthetic really took shape and led me to get into phtotography. The Caribbean region is so beautiful and vibrant, and rich in art and culture. The light is magical, the colours intense – a truly inspirational part of the world. We started our family in Barbados, and it is always our other home.

Getting into photography professionally.

When we came to live in England about five years ago, I decided to go further with my photography. I was thrilled to be offered a place to study photography at University of the Arts, London. Commuting into London from our rural village and arranging childcare was tricky but I loved every minute of the degree, and being a full time student again! I concentrated my efforts into food photography and this made up my final portfolio – and earned me a distinction. So then to working as a photographer – it’s a case of just getting out and doing it, making contacts, social networking – all in all, a work in progress. One of my biggest challenges was and is getting to work with other photographers and finding mentors. Photographers can be quite isolated and I find I have to learn mostly just from trial and error.

My cooking style.

Food, cooking and eating are all happy moments in my life – I just love my food. Fresh, simple dishes based on beautiful, good quality ingredients make up my favourites. I adore spice and flavours from all over the world and I am lucky to have travelled so much to get to know a lot of different cuisines. I cook every day, and love preparing nourishing, tasty food for my family. A delicious meal shared with family and friends is just as good as life gets. I read lots of of cookery books, magazines and blogs. I have too many cookery books to count, perhaps a couple of hundred…or more! Authors and cooks I admire include Sarah Raven, Bill Granger and Alice Waters. I share with them a passion for great ingredients, sensibly sourced – and allowing these to shine through in the cooking.

My blog and getting work.

I think one has to commit to a blog – and give to it without asking from it – for quite a while before it brings dividends in terms of appreciation or work. I think it needs to build a credibility and authenticity to be really successful, and that doesn’t happen overnight. Gradually it does build, and it is a great way to showcase your work and ideas. Now my blog has been going for a while, I get a lot of positive feedback from it, and it does bring work. But even if it didn’t, I would still blog as I just love blogging.

Advice and inspirations – to myself and others!

I consider my career to be a work in progress so my advice to others is the same as I give to myself. I try to keep learning all the time, trying out new styles and techniques. I look at other peoples’ work constantly and study what they are doing and the effects they create. This is a great learning tool. I try to keep up with others in the foodie and photography arenas with social networking and meeting in person as much as possible too. I love to attend food blogger events, and workshops. Networking is the best way to get work, hands down. And that network is all around – I have had lots of work just via other mums at the school gates!

Photographers I find inspiring include Jonathan Lovekin, Penny de los Santos, and magnificent fine art photographers like Sharon Core and Peter Williams.

Lovely local ingredients.

Where we live, on the border of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire we are lucky to have some great food producers and suppliers. There is a splendid little farm shop just down the road called Bucksum farm. http://www.tvfm.org.uk/member/135/bucksum/. They supply a lot of the best restaurants (and farm shop customers) with amazing produce including some fabulous salad greens. In Thame, a market town close by, there is a wonderful butcher called Newitt. www.newitt.co.uk .They also supply top restaurants like nearby Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, but they never fail with first class customer service to everyone who comes into the shop.

Finally, in my village (again another school mama) is a beautiful lady called Giuliana who has a business making lasagna. It is just the most delicious lasagna ever – I don’t know her secret! http://cici-coco.com/

Pascale Cumberbatch’s website is: www.pascalecumberbatch.com

Blog: http://extra-relish.com

E-mail: [email protected]

Follow Pascale on Twitter: @ExtraRelish

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