Mar 27, 2011

World-class food stylist Denise Vivaldo presents marketing seminar in Tacoma: Building Your Own Brand for a Better Bottom Line


Mar 25, 2011

New Class! Creating and Selling Your Dream Cookbook.

We are very excited to announce this brand new mini-symposium with four award-winning authors.

With Denise Vivaldo and Cindie Flannigan, authors of The Food Stylist’s Handbook; 

Dianne Jacob, author of Will Write for Food;
Martha Hopkins, author and publisher of Intercourses: an Aphrodisiac Cookbook.
Have you got an idea for a cookbook or a recipe box bursting with cherished family recipes, but don’t know how to turn your dream into reality? Maybe you’ve started a blog and wonder how to turn it into a cookbook. Join us for an information-packed weekend that covers topics and concerns specific to cookbook authors:

Your dream cookbook: what it takes to get a book contract
with Dianne Jacob
•    What makes a cookbook idea irresistible to publishers and agents?
•    What is a platform and how do you get one or improve upon yours?
•    How to write a cookbook proposal too good to turn down
•    Whether to find an agent or go straight to a publisher

Cookbook content: recipes and photographs
with Denise Vivaldo and Cindie Flannigan
•    Writing clear and concise recipes
•    The importance of great photos
•    How to find photographers and food stylists
•    Producing your own artwork
•    Cutting costs by taking test photos, doing your own prep & shopping for shoots

Self-publishing: Should you publish your own cookbook?
with Martha Hopkins
•    The pros and cons of traditional publishing versus self publishing
•    What does it mean to self publish?
•    Is self publishing affordable?
•    Promoting your cookbook on a limited budget.
•    Your book is one title in a sea of thousands. Learn to develop a realistic 
marketing plan that will make print and web editors, TV producers, and 
customers take notice.  

Saturday ends with a “speed pitching session,” an opportunity for participants 
to make a short private pitch with an instructor.

Saturday, June 25, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Sunday, June 26, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Early bird special! $225.00 for reservations and payments received by May 30, 2011

$275.00 after May 30, 2011 or $295.00 at the door (space permitting, space is limited)

Pay with PayPal or check (personal or company check, or money order, made out to Food Fanatics, Inc., 
and mail to PO Box 351088, Los Angeles, CA 90035).

Click here to register.

If you have any questions please contact Mandy at

Hope to see you there!

Mar 18, 2011

Delightful Review of Master Food Styling Class I

Photo Source

We just enjoyed teaching our Master Food Styling Class I at Surfas in Culver City, and wanted to share one of our student's experienceRenata Sadunas, we loved having you, and can't wait to see what your future holds.  Happy styling!

An excerpt from Renata's review:

The thing I loved about Denise's class is that it was about much more than food styling. In between demos she mused about her past food industry experiences (she's worked with *everyone* including Jacques Pepin, Julia Child, Wolfgang Puck, and so on and so forth), generously doled out advice on the best ways to get started in the business, and how to keep your momentum, and gave critical feedback to each student while they completed their pieces.

Click here to read the full post.

Mar 17, 2011

Flourless Dark Chocolate Brownies with Walnuts

Mandy's husband is on a sugar-free diet at the moment, so she simply had to try these brownies.  So sad not to give husband any dessert options other than is too short.

Mandy was missing her brownie pan. Tart pan will do!

SO GOOD!  Mandy made a few substitutions based on what she had on hand:  Xylitol for Splenda, coconut oil for olive oil, and omitted the walnuts.  The good news is these brownies are healthy, sugar-free and delicious.  The bad news is, Mandy and husband ate the entire pan in one sitting.  Oh well, they blamed it on the newborn baby.  Nursing takes a lot of energy!

Ian played while mama baked

Healthy treat for Dad!

Babies and Brownies

Dr. Janet’s Flourless Dark Chocolate Brownies with Walnuts

By Janet Bond Brill Ph.D. R.D., LDN

Author of Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease

Serves 16

Nonstick cooking spray
One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup packed Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon espresso powder
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place the black beans in a mixing bowl. Add the brown sugar, oats, cocoa powder, olive oil, espresso powder, flax seeds, vanilla, and salt. With an electric mixer, blend the ingredients until the black beans are mushed up and the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, top with walnuts, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan and the middle of the brownies is firm. Let cool before slicing into 16 pieces.

Calories: 140
Fat: 6 g (0 g EPA, 0 g DHA, 1g ALA)
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 1 mg
Sodium 89 mg
Carbohydrate: 16 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Sugars: < 1 g
Protein: 3 g

The above is an excerpt from the book Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease by Janet Bond Brill, Ph. D. R.D., LDN. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

© 2011 Janet Bond Brill, Ph. D. R.D., LDN, author of Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease

Author Bio
Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN,  author of Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease, is a diet, nutrition, and fitness expert who has appeared on national television.  She is the author of Cholesterol Down: 10 Simple Steps to Lower Your Cholesterol In 4 Weeks Without Prescription Drugs, and specializes in cardiovascular disease prevention.  Dr. Brill lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and three children. 

For more information please visit

Mar 16, 2011

Our Wedding Planning Tips Featured in DIY Weddings Magazine

Spring is here, which means wedding season is upon us! In this issue, we talk centerpieces (floral or not). Click on the images below to enjoy the article in it's full-size glory (no eyestrain involved).

Mar 12, 2011

David Downie on the International Cookbook Fair in Paris

Photo courtesy of David Downie

David Downie and his wife, Alison, a gifted photographer, took us on an intense food tour of Paris!
They made us feel welcome and we had a ball.  More about David and Alison and our tour the meantime, please enjoy David's account of the International Cookbook Fair.  I'm still catching my breath. 

Mar 10, 2011

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

 Miss Mandy received this fun cookbook and couldn't wait to mix up a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies, seeing as she is nursing a newborn and oats are known milk producers (also easy to eat finger foods pretty much make up her diet these days).  What a delicious way to nourish her son!  The molasses really makes these cookies, creating a deeper flavor and a moist, delicious cookie.  She'll be keeping this book on hand to enjoy with Ian when he's a little bit older...he will be a teen someday!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
by Matthew Locricchio,
author of Teen Cuisine

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1¼ cups raw (turbinado) sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature plus ½ teaspoon for greasing
¼ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons molasses
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup raisins

On your mark

Preheat the oven to 350°F with an oven rack in the middle slot of the oven.

Using a piece of wax paper, lightly grease two 10 ½ by 15 ½-inch cookie sheets with ½ teaspoon butter. Set aside.

Get set . . .

Combine the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, oats, raw sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk until well mixed.

In a separate bowl, combine the butter, milk, molasses, egg, and vanilla.
Beat with an electric hand-mixer at medium speed until the mixture is smooth. Add to the dry ingredients. Toss all of the ingredients together to moisten.
Mix in the nuts and raisins.


Scoop up about a tablespoon of dough and drop onto the greased cookie sheet.  Repeat until you have 12 cookies about 2 inches apart.

Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack of the oven for 18 minutes, or until the edges are crisp and start to color.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare and bake the next tray.  Continue until all the cookies are baked.
Once the cookies have cooled for 10 minutes, use a spatula to lift them off the cookie sheet and place them on a rack to cool completely.

The above is an excerpt from the book Teen Cuisine by Matthew Locricchio. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2011 Matthew Locricchio, author of Teen Cuisine

Matthew Locricchio, author of Teen Cuisine, was born into a restaurant and catering family and has worked in the food industry most of his life.  Included in his resume as a professional cook are stints at the well-known Gandy Dancer in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the West Coast Stock Exchange's private club in San Francisco, and the legendary Barbary Coast restaurant.

Matthew has taught culinary classes and given cooking demonstrations at culinary schools throughout the country as well as the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

James Peterson, photographer for Teen Cuisine, is a renowned cookbook author and photographer, and a James Beard and International Association of Culinary Professionals award winner.

For more information please visit and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

Mar 8, 2011

Postcards from Paris – How to Run a Successful Workshop While Deflecting A Thousand Monkey Wrenches

Photo Source

By Patti Londre of Worth The Whisk

If you ever want to learn how to present like a pro, watch one closely.  From its inception, Denise’s workshop at the Paris Cookbook Expo was looking like a recipe for disaster (not by any hand of Denise’s).  Yet in the end, it was an overwhelming success, so how did that happen? Here is what I saw:

Divas Not Allowed

The session title in the program was not accurate.  It never mentioned “food styling.” There was no signage. No name card on the table. The room was a cave with cement walls and floors so the sound from two sessions next door flooded her space.  No microphone. Not even a glass of water for the speaker. Yet, she never let any of that get in the way of presenting an engaging session.

Have the Attitude of a Winner

Any amateur would have crumbled. But an experienced pro perseveres. Denise gave herself a four-hour lead time, “just in case,” and it came in handy.  The metro car stopped mid-tunnel (no one was panicking, least of all Denise.) Once rolling and at our station, discovered the grocery store she scouted thoroughly three days earlier was closed – Sunday! No fresh groceries for props?!  A quick look up and down the Rue, she spies Le McDonalds and the session instantly shifted from “How to Build a Better Burger” to “How to Make A Really Bad Burger A Hundred Times Better.” 10 Euros worth of fast food later, she settled down at the Fair to process her plan.  No problems!  All good!  She produced her demo layout, poured through her Gourmand Award-Winning tome, The Food Stylist’s Handbook to mark photos with post-its for show and tell.

Know Your Content Inside-Out

A subject Denise clearly teaches in her sleep, now she had to deliver an hours worth of content in 30 minutes because, we realized on the spot, she was to be translated. Every two minutes, stop to be repeated in French. Her jokes took two beats before the laughs (“using Vaseline to fill holes in the meat is like Botox for the burger!”  Beat, beat… CHUCKLES from the crowd). That was satisfying.

If You Have Low Expectations, Everything is Up From There

We had NO expectations. Given all the monkey wrenches, by the time 4 PM Sunday was to roll around, we figured what person would want to hear, “How to Build a Better Burger” in France? At 3:50 PM, two people had sat down.  YEA!  We had an audience!!  I assured Denise, “Don’t worry, I can make two people look like 100 in a photo.” She laughed, took a big breath and geared up to present.  And then… the dam seemed to burst, and attendees POURED in.  If you could see the looks Denise and I exchanged for ten minutes, chairs ran out, standing room only, a quick intro in French and GO!

Bring A Friend To Be Your Photographer and Then Market, Market, Market!

The session may have been 60 minutes in one room far far away from home, but the photos last forever.  I was a wild woman shooting the crowd and uploading to Facebook for Denise’s friends to share in her success around the globe. Once done, more marketing can happen with great shots. Time to unplug, toast your good work (it’s now 5 PM) and spend a few extra days appreciating the surroundings.  We are in Paris!

Mar 7, 2011


By Patti Londre from Worth the Whisk

The Food Stylist's Handbook by Denise Vivaldo won the Gourmand Award for the Best Cookbook Design in the World for Professionals (the certificate says just that), and her book now may bear the prestigious “Best in the World” awards sticker.  How we got to the ceremony is almost world-class in itself.

I have a certain high level of self-confidence. and having now been in Paris approximately 24 hours, “knew everything.”  We had our Metro passes. I waltzed up to the concierge at our hotel, the exclusive Hotel de Crillion, to get the best Metro route to reach the awards. The concierge, somewhat horrified, recommended a taxi for that part of town. “Nonsense, we are from Los Angeles!” and off we went with proper instructions.  Just one transfer. Voila! We popped up at our stop, looked around and I spied the recognizable building exterior and we walked the one block of strip joints and S &M shops to our destination.  Denise was in Good Hands! Nothing to worry about!

I flashed our home-printed billet and the sleazy doorman waved us in.  Strangely, they only allowed 10 people in at a time. OK, I figured, must be fire marshal rules. Our fellow revelers looked a tad under-dressed (the invite DID say dress casual, elegant but comfortable, I guessed that was subject to interpretation).

We were pointed to the coat check.  No! We wanted our coats in order to beat a hasty retreat (we were forewarned that the program would be hours and hours).  “No coats inside.”  Huh??  This was followed by “Check your camera, no photography.” Impossible!  The invite had stated clearly that cameras would be everywhere, everything was ok to shoot.

Denise, at that point, woke up. She said, “Is this the Gourmand Awards?” He looked confused. She showed the invite. “No no madam,” that is at the Follies Bergeres.”  That’s when I WOKE UP, OMG… I took Denise to the Moulin Rouge!

We had 15 minutes to get to our ceremony before (they claimed) no seating after the show started.

A “local” at the curb told us in halting English that the FB was a 5 minute walk, thattaway. Taxi? Walk? Taxi? Walk? Denise said, “Oh crap, let’s cab it and get there in plenty of time.” We hail, we tell the no-English speaking driver details and he drives off with us in a completely different direction, zigzagging through the city for 15 minutes to arrive and get us into the door with just minutes to spare.  A good laugh ensued, we found seats in a ditch-able spot (a dinner hosted by another of Denise’s publisher was at 9:30pm across the city, the show started at 9pm, and we had a stand-in arranged to accept Denise’s award if her category was extra late – we were optimistic).

But the show was progressing at a decent rate.  Denise’s category was number 2.8.  When we hit 1.6, she looked at her watch and it was now 9:50pm. Hmmm…stay?  Go?  I said, “STAY – we worked hard getting here!”  Things were moving faster, a good pace had set in. Here came categories 2.5, 2.6 and then it’s 2.7 with the four nominees’ book covers on the screen when Eduard Contra – the awards founder, owner, and host – read out, “Denise Vivaldo’s Food Styling Handbook is a wonderful resource…” I shriek, and start shoving Denise over my lap (of course, being a pig, I had sat at the aisle) and barked at her, “Get up there!” She leapt over me, got down the middle aisle to the stage with me in hot pursuit (me being the photographer). Her thank-you was cute and quick, thanking the book’s publisher, Gibbs Smith, her editor Madge Baird, her agent Lisa Ekus and all her difficult clients.

We got to our seats, sat for two seconds, and bolted to do some Facebook mobile uploads and emails, more photos and then off to dinner – great food, great wine, great dinner mates (thank you host Robert Rose, lovely wife Judith, Lisa Ekus and Virginia Willis, along with fellow award winner Cevin Bryerman of Publisher’s Weekly and his darling wife, Audrey).

We closed the restaurant. Dinner ended at midnight. Cab home. Zzzz.

Next up… sightseeing, friends, a cooking demo by Denise back at the cookbook fair, shopping, girl talk and more metro. We still have a week here in fabulous Paris.

Congratulations, Denise, for your World’s Best designation for the Food Stylist’s Handbook.