I love collaborating.
When you read this message, or listen to my podcast, you are seemingly absorbing one voice. Yes, these are my words, but those words, ideas, thoughts, recipes… they’re a collaborative effort. They often come from the inspiration of another. A shared idea. A recipe from a neighbour, a sister. A push from somewhere, something. Even my wooden spoons are a form of collaboration – with trees, an artist, food and art.
I call all of the above invisible collaboration. A seed is planted, often unbeknown to the other. I give it fertile ground to grow, shift, evolve and blossom.
Collaboration is even better when it is not invisible, when a live person is alongside, sharing their thoughts or weaving them together with mine.
I learned this while writing cookbooks with Pippa Cuthbert. Pippa is a food stylist from New Zealand with a background in nutrition; I’m a Canadian journalist with a background in cooking. Together we wrote seven books. We divided the recipes and ran with them. She covered nutrition, I wrote introductions. She injected the recipes with New Zealand inspiration, I added a touch of Canadiana. Then, together we styled the recipes for photography in a London studio. That’s when the real magic happened. We’d borrow props from all over the city, (still thanking you Ceramica Blue) line them up on a table and cook each recipe, one by one. That’s when the creative juices really flowed. The energy in the room was palpable.
Together we were better.
I’ve been looking for that energy ever since. I find it through editors, directors, friends and any family member willing to read a rough draft. I’m not precious about my work; if those I trust don’t like something, chances are, no one will.
So you can imagine my excitement when Skye Manson, co-host of the Australian podcast My Open Kitchen agreed to contribute to my latest episode of The Food Podcast. It all started with a photograph. I posted an image of a bunch of wooden spoons from the workbench of carver Terron Dodd. I had just returned from interviewing Terron in his Cape Breton workshop. Skye replied with her love of wooden spoons – the food memories, the family memories, the childhood memories, the ‘brother laughing and running away when about to get smacked with a wooden spoon’ memories. Her story is a collaboration of sorts, woven into mine, all the way from Australia.
Then there’s my friend and radio documentary producer, Dick Miller. He’s my ‘behind the scenes’ podcast collaborator, giving me suggestions, edits, guidance and tough love after every episode. When I told him about my wooden spoon episode, he came back with his memories. Needless to say I asked him to share them in the episode.
Together we’re better.
Click here to listen to their stories on episode 19 of The Food Podcast.