We're sitting down with our favorite writers and cooks to talk about their upcoming cookbooks, their best food memories, and just about anything else.
Today: Todd Porter and Diane Cu, a.k.a. the White on Rice Couple, talk photography, food, family, and the endless possibilities of urban gardening. Plus, we're giving away 5 copies of their new cookbook, Bountiful!
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Some people grow food. Some cook it. Some take pictures of it. Then you have the rare few who do all of the above -- and do it well. Enter Todd Porter and Diane Cu, the inspiring couple behind White on Rice Couple, who have translated their love of photography, food, gardening, and one another into a successful blog and a new cookbook. (We’d be jealous of how multitalented they are, but they are just too nice.)
Bountifultells the story of this unlikely couple -- she’s a Vietnamese immigrant, he grew up on a cattle ranch out west -- and shares cooking techniques, gardening tips, and a full collection of seasonal recipes, all photographed so beautifully you will wish you were as photogenic as their sweet potatoes.
"The people who give you their food give you their heart," says the Cesar Chavez quote in Bountiful's opening pages. It's a fitting quote for a couple who dedicates their lives to sharing food with others.
How has cooking brought you together as a couple? It allowed us to spend more time together outside of work. Cooking has always been something that we looked forward to because it allowed us to be creative, learn, and explore together in the kitchen.
How you develop new recipes? What is your process, and what inspires you? Seasonal ingredients definitely inspire us. But we're lucky to be in Southern California where we have fresh, local produce all year round. So when we develop recipes for the blog, we try think of dishes that can be relevant to our readers in other parts of the county. Strolling through the farmers markets and seeing what comes out of the garden definitely inspire up new ideas. But we're also fans of comfort foods, so anything with cheese and chocolate give us focus and direction.
Gardening plays a central role in your lives. Is there any hope for the would-be urban gardeners without yards? Yes! A garden can be any size, including small pots. That's how we started over 17 years ago. Our first garden consisted of a few herb pots in our second-story apartment: mint, basil and thyme. Collecting the leaves from those tiny little plants felt like a huge accomplishment and gave us the encouragement to do more of it.
Your cookbook is a love letter to vegetables and fruit -- is there a vegetable that you just don't like to eat? So far, we haven't found anything. How a vegetable is prepared definitely determines how it tastes. When all else fails, we just dip it in fish sauce or cheese dip and we're fans.
What is your process like when you're shooting? Do you divide up the styling and photography, or are you constantly collaborating? Working together is always a collaboration and takes patience and open-mindedness. At the end of the day, we still have to live together. For editorial or advertising shoots in a studio with clients, Diane will normally cook, style, and prop the dishes. Todd will photograph and manage all the files. We both love to cook, so any pre-prepping for recipes or recipe developing is shared between us both. For travel, location, or documentary shooting, we both shoot equally and always collaborate on who will get what shot and what area to cover so that we don't miss any moments.
Book cover, portrait, and cauliflower photos by Todd Porter and Diane Cu; apple photo by Beth Kirby
We're giving away 5 copies of Bountiful! To enter, tell us in the comments: How does food bring you and your family or friends together? We'll pick the winners by Wednesday, October 6 at 3 PM EST.