Guest blog and photographs by Gita Claassen
Creativity needs to be fed. This universal truth is known and often forgotten about by self-confessed creatives like myself when we get so stuck in constantly producing that we neglect filling up what we pour out.
I’ve often found that the best way to feed one’s creativity and breed inspiration is by getting involved in creative activities that has nothing or very little to do with one’s own field of work. It seems counter-intuitive, but by focusing on something completely different and unrelated, yet creative, it inspires something new and childlike in one.
Nina Timm and Prince Albert
The Nina Timm workshop at African Relish that ran from 24-26 August 2016 was just such an opportunity. I initially booked the workshop because I noticed that there would be styling and food photography involved. By the time it came to the date, I nearly cancelled. Work piled up and I had so many projects in the air that I felt I couldn’t really afford not working. Something kept me from cancelling though and I arrived in Prince Albert stressed and buzzing. I love how the energy of Prince Albert influences your mood so enormously. Immediately after arriving I was able to let go of the guilt of not actively working for the weekend (the constant curse of the entrepreneur). Prince Albert is peaceful but with a creative aura that possesses you to help discover a new sense of purpose and belonging.
My first encounter with Nina Timm was unexpectedly familiar, especially seeing that she is such a successful foodie and chef.. Her greeting was warm and we immediately started chatting away like old friends. This set the mood for the entire weekend.
As more people arrived, everyone just joined in with a welcoming drink and settled into the comfortable sofas. It was rather lovely to behold the simple humanity of it. Lunch was prepared by chef Jaco and his team.
My Easy Cooking and creativity
After lunch we cooked our first gorgeous easy meal: sweet potato soup on a forest bed; samp risotto with pulled roast leg of lamb, and pana cotta served with strawberry coulis, white chocolate mousse and peanut brittle. This dinner was a great end to a creative day.
Saturday morning kicked off early with a visit to Prince Albert’s famed Saturday morning market. We were treated to a light continental breakfast before starting preparations for lunch. Mexican bean crumble with poached egg and hollandaise sauce was served with fresh rocket. Everyone participated by poaching their own eggs as demonstrated by chef Jaco.
After a leisurely lunch, we got working on the evening meal which was cooked on an open fire. The menu included Beef fillet stuffed with sundried tomatoes and local feta from Gay’s dairy; sweet potato gratin; green beans with roast almonds and parmesan; and garlic bread made with fresh olive oil.
The last supper was served under the stars in balmy weather on the terrace overlooking the olive grove and we relished the food, the company, the stories, the setting and the experience.
Food styling and photography
Sunday morning was a leisurely affair of experimentation with flavours and textures. Each of the course attendees had a chance to create their own waffles and we also had some practice and advice in plating and styling our waffles. This was great fun, and a memorable interactive breakfast that ended up being photographed and posted on Instagram by all.
Nina’s cooking classes were not only informative and fun, but the preparation of food in groups created a sense of togetherness which carried us through the weekend. By Sunday we felt like family. She spent a lot of time leisurely telling stories at the table. This was a key idea in her workshop – that food brings people together and that this is part of the sustenance of the food we ingest. Nothing was rushed. Food is about togetherness and sharing and not only about “eating to live”.
The weekend was filled with laughter, joy and learning. We learned from Nina; from chef Jaco and fellow course attendees. It left me feeling invigorated and inspired. The biggest lesson learned was that one needs to do something for yourself every so often to recharge your creativity.