As an only child, I've always tried to find ways to bring people together. Growing up it wasn't that hard since mom's home cooking was easily accessible. I'd simply ask, pick a date and on that day my mother and our helper would be ready with a mini buffet spread for me and my friends. (Yup, I was spoiled. :P) Such was the luxury in my life until I moved to Vancouver for school. It was my first time living on my own—and in a new city—and got carried away by having too much fun. Sure, I had the best times but all that going out eventually caught up on me and my wallet. I was halfway through my first semester of undergraduate studies when I realized I had to change my ways.
And it started with me getting creative in the kitchen.
My dad had stocked up my fridge and my pantry pretty well so I began to cook more at home. Even if at that time the extent of my culinary skills went only as far as pan-frying, the fact that I could create my own breakfast plate of bacon, eggs and toast made a huge difference. I then started to look up recipes for more "intricate" dishes, playing around with ingredients that I already had. My creations didn't always turn out Instagram-worthy and I've had several kitchen mishaps but from each experience I learned something new. Those lessons kept me going.
Eventually cooking became a passion of mine and I wanted to share this newly discovered creative side of me. I enjoy cooking for myself but we all know a meal is so much better when it's shared with someone. Whether it's at home or at a restaurant, eating together changes—or adds—to the food experience. I started inviting my friends over for dinner, trying out new recipes on them, to the point that we'd all cook together or I'd host a potluck and each person would share their own culinary creations. We didn't just have better and healthier options than the McDonald's menu but we pushed each other to create and collaborate. Through our collective effort, we prepared our own buffet spread.
To me, that's what The Creative Pantry is all about.* It's bringing people together and building community through food, creativity and collaboration. Each one of us is an ingredient in the pantry, and although we can stand on those shelves alone, together we can enhance the flavour of the dish and create a unique food experience.
To kick-off The Creative Pantry, co-founder Abhishek and I hosted an "Instagathering" last Sunday. It wasn't a potluck but we did organize it so that local Instagram foodies would create and collaborate with each other, developing new friendships in the process. We allowed our guests to get creative whether it was in the space, setting it up and styling, or in the food, building their own sliders. I wasn't able to photograph much of the food but that's because I focused more on capturing moments.
First thing's first: Styling and photography.
The heights we undertake for the perfect overhead shot.
Kale salad is always a good idea!
My garlic smashed potatoes.. before people started inhaling them.
Cheeseboard styled by @didier_yhc.
@abhishekdekate's mini mint chicken burger patties on the grill
Instagram handles on cups, please!
"THEY'RE LIKE CRACK."
@adamaleger ready to take on a mini caprese salad stick!
From online to offline friends. :)
Co-founder @abhishekdekate with fellow Instagrammers.
Thank you to everyone for being a part of this and making it one of the most memorable instameets I've ever been to! Summer might be ending soon but this community is just about ready to takeover your feed (and Toronto!) all-year round. 'Til the next creative gathering!
Interested in getting creative and collaborating? Make sure to follow @thecreativepantry on Instagram so you don't miss out on future events!
* On one hand, The Creative Pantry is a community but on the other, it is also a business. We offer food styling and photography services to small food businesses and entrepreneurs for their digital media content. Please contact me at email@example.com or Abhishek at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.