I have been an admirer of Helen Dujardin’s work for a while now. In fact it was her stunning images that graced the covers of the first issues of Nourish nearly four years ago. A self taught photographer with a passion for food and perfecting her art Helene often imparts her wisdom holding workshops for everyone from beginners to those in the industry wanting to capture a little of her magic.
I have had attending one of these workshops as my goal for the past couple of years but as hard as I might have tried I never managed to make my schedule, flights to the U.S and the dates of her workshops align. So it was purely with my own interests at heart that I cheekily asked Helene to come to NZ.
She said yea and last month we took a week away from the day to day running of Nourish to play host and local guide for Helene and her husband Bill as well as host the two days of food photography workshops Helene took while here.
With just six free days in New Zealand it was our mission to give Helene and Bill a great snapshot of everything New Zealand has to offer. Shaking of jet lag we spent the first day soaking up the atmosphere down at the Viaduct in Auckland ending the afternoon with a walk up Queen Street to sample the best ice cream in NZ (and possibly the world) at Giapo.
The next day, Sunday, saw us do what foodies all over the world love to do – meander around a Farmer’s Market. I love the Clevedon market and it also meant we got to pick up some of the most amazing produce for our first workshop.
Curious Croppers and their phenomenal range of heirloom tomatoes, and we found out eggplants as well, are reason enough to visit Clevedon Market.
After a coffee, some breakfast in the form of a German sausage, many samples and a wonderful Paleta ice block we were ready for our next visit. Helen and Richard Dorresteyn who started and run the Clevedon Market are also the dynamic couple who run The Clevedon Valley Buffalo Company. They milk 200 buffalo and from this rich gorgeous milk make an increasing number of delicious products from mozzarella to yoghurt and their recently released lassi.
Packed with a chilli bin of delicious samples we followed Helen and Richard along a picturesque Clevedon country road towards the coast until we got to their farm. It seems an odd place to take visitors to New Zealand for a slice of farm life when we are known for sheep and dairy cows but this was truly a fantastic excursion. Being able to get to the source of your food is always a thrill in any country and to be able to see the passion and innovation behind this great company was a thrill for us all.
Monday saw our first day of workshops at Ponsonby Central and a great mix of avid food photographers from those just starting to those with an amazing portfolio behind them. We had people travel from Nelson and Australia for the day which was a huge thrill.
We had some amazing New Zealand produce and products to play and nibble on. The amazing tomatoes from Curious Croppers and buffalo mozzarella from the Clevedon Valley Buffalo Company along with salami from Lasco and to delicious award winning Lavash from Ringawera all made the perfect makings of an antipasto platter which was the first assignment of the day.
In the afternoon we switched to sweet plates with the amazing Heilala vanilla and Fresh As dried fruit were making appearances. Helene was also quite taken by these and ecstatic to hear her goodie bag included a few packets of each too.
Tuesday we hit the road, Rotorua bound but we took the scenic route via Waihi for a delicious meal at the new Waihi Beach Hotel and of course the compulasory pic in front of the Lemon Paeroa bottle!
Rotorua is such a great place to take visitors to New Zealand! Actually it’s a great place for anyone to spend time. After a relaxing night on the shores of Lake Rotoiti we spent the day at Te Puia getting the star treatment. We learnt to weave, heard all about their amazing history, carving and performing arts schools, saw a Kiwi and then had lunch cooked in the hot pools with magnificent geysers going off in the background.
Hard to top such a wonderful morning we headed to Wingspan to learn about New Zealand’s native falcon and all the good work Wingspan are doing. Then it was to fly high ourselves with a trip up the gondola to take in the magnificent view while trying a few NZ wines at Volcanic Hills tasting room. A quick luge down the hill it was then off to dinner at the beautiful Wai Ora Resort.
Thursday was a little more sedate as we soaked in the beautiful scenery and natural delights with a couple of walks and some fun meals because sadly Friday meant we were back in the car heading back to the big smoke.
Saturday was our final workshop and again people had come from far away to learn from Helene. From learning to plan your shoots to manipulating the light our minds were bursting by the end of the day!
We capped the day off with a few drinks and dinner and I think at least my instagramming had improved over the week! Now to start work on the big camera.
By Vicki Ravlich-Horan
All the photos in this story were taken on my phone and posted on instagram. To follow us on instagram search nourishmagazine