Chef week

If you know me at all, you know I'm a sucker for any event that raises money for a good cause, especially sustainable food systems. Chef Week did just that by benefiting the Community Action Coalition's Double Dollars program. But the four events I was assigned to cover for ISTHMUS made me ecstatic for other reasons too.

Local celebrity chef, Tory Miller, toasts to Chef Week with his employees. Miller was recently nominated for what would be his second James Beard Award.

Local celebrity chef, Tory Miller, toasts to Chef Week with his employees. Miller was recently nominated for what would be his second James Beard Award.

I was thrilled to help showcase so many restauranteur pals who have brought slow food to our city in a beautiful way. I can't count the number of friends I've seen go from slaving away on the lower rungs of the service industry to opening their own classy nooks on the East Side. Covering the event brought my love for hard-working entrepreneurs and Madison's ambitious food community full circle for me. I've worked behind the bar, on the floor, in the kitchen and as a door girl. I sweated in fields growing vegetables for a farm-to-table operation and I've watched places from the stage. But this week reminded me that my most useful role in that world is from behind a camera.

Throughout the week, I got to watch kitchen talent from all parts of the city spring into the new season with an extra surge of post-hibernation energy. The events paired Madison's most celebrated food wizards, not just together, but with students in the early stage of a career.

The children of celebrated restauranteur, Jonny Hunter, sample treats from Madison Sourdough Company with a great view of the state capital building. Sunday Funday brought all ages out for the festivities at Le Toile.

The children of celebrated restauranteur, Jonny Hunter, sample treats from Madison Sourdough Company with a great view of the state capital building. Sunday Funday brought all ages out for the festivities at Le Toile.

Unprecedented collaborations led to recipe reinterpretations and kitchen swaps, not to mention a unique social concoction, rejuvenating Madison's restaurant scene with excitement and camaraderie. The series ended with a lively indoor street food party complete with 20+ sampling tables, a latin jazz sextet, and an impressive backdrop of the the Capital building. Le Toile was transformed into an uncharacteristically inclusive space while Graze maintained a more relaxed vibe thanks in part to DJ FRP and his reggae collection.

Sunday Funday - Le Toile & Graze

Natt Spil & Merchant

Nostrano & Le Toile

Pizza Brutta & Gotham Bagels

Spay Panama

Don't get me wrong.. I love shooting weddings. I love the people who graciously welcome me into their family for a day. I love the effort and creativity involved. I feel beyond honored witnessing vows and speeches, words and stories reserved for that day alone. But if I had to choose whose story to tell with my camera, it would be those who can't afford to pay me for it. And street dogs definitely can't afford to pay me...

I was fortunate to spend part of December working with a wonderful non-profit, Spay Panama, that travels through the country as a pop-up vet clinic to rural areas that may otherwise go years without vet care. Offering low-cost sterilization to pet owners in hopes of curbing the number of animals born that would likely stray and starve, the organization is due to a generous retired canal worker, Patricia Chan. 

The following gallery shows part of my time spent with the crew after a tired old bus filled with medical equipment, veterinarians and volunteer technicians carried us through the mountains to a schoolyard in El Valle. Between street dogs we rounded up ourselves and pets brought in by village residents, over 450 animals were fixed in just two days.

I used to volunteer as an O.R. assistant at a spay clinic in Wisconsin with lofty dreams of becoming a vet, so it was fun lending a hand doing similar work when I wasn't photographing. I would, however, really like to do more than share their story. If you would also like to help, please copy the link to this post and share it, via Facebook or email, with fellow animal lovers and philanthropists that may donate to the organization. This year Spay Panama celebrated 100,000 operations and have started averaging 20,000 surgeries per year. They've won numerous awards for transparency and utilize resources efficiently. You can also visit motofilly.com to learn more about a Spay Panama benefit I'm planning for July 2016.

CLICK HERE to make a tax deductible donation to Spay Panama

CLICK HERE to "Like" their Facebook page

 

 

Eaux Claires

The great outdoors + the greatest music + close friends + a photo assignment from Noisey = one fantasy weekend. In fact, I don't think I felt a single mosquito which means it was surely all a dream..


Sauer Fam

I've decided I'm going to stop charging money for photos and start charging cookouts. So long as the three B's are covered: beer, bubbles, and beautiful kids... I let these guys throw a devil cat in the mix too since they're practically family. A big thanks to Mark, Jenessa, Jeff, Leo, Ivy and cute lil mouse baby Etta! What a wonderful evening. xo

Amy

Amy is a beautiful new mother and yoga instructor in the Madison area. We had a lightning quick portrait session the day I left for a full month to work elsewhere and I'm so glad we squeezed it in. What a nice way to spend my last morning in Wisconsin! Here are a few of my favorite moments with her and her new son. Congratulations, Amy!