In Category: ‘Blog’

We just returned from long-time customer, Carroll Villa Hotel in Cape May, New Jersey. Mark Kulkowitz and family have been running this local institution for over 30 years and they have recently made some bold changes and inventive updates. We wanted to share a particularly interesting before-and-after shot. Previously, the hotel had maintained a very Victorian theme, which was fitting–Cape May may be the most famous “Victoriana” destination in America.  While updating the room decor to a more contemporary style, they made the decision to paint over the dark-wood Victorian-era furniture with contemporary colors. The lines and style of the furnishing still reference the era and the Cape May’s Victorian heritage, but the paint really updates the look! The innkeepers use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to transform the old furniture. It’s a great product that requires very little prep such as priming or sanding. We also LOVE the green aspect to this approach: reuse and recycle (and save a few bucks while you’re at it!)

The innkeepers also made a few dramatic wallpaper changes. They removed the heavy floral wallpaper and replaced it with a subtle, textured, grasscloth-style wallpaper. The feel of the room takes a total 360–from busy, dense Victorian to restful and serene, with colors that seem to reference the Atlantic Ocean, just a block away.


Check out this dramatic before and after:

CarrollVilla Rooms 28 4 Edit XL Victorian to Stylish: Great Budget Makeover at Carroll Villa Hotel

AFTER: Room 28 with newly-painted Victorian furniture

Room%2028%20%283%29 XL Victorian to Stylish: Great Budget Makeover at Carroll Villa Hotel

BEFORE: Room 28, with no place “for the eye to rest”!

Another clever thing the innkeepers did was to convert the Victorian era-full size beds to king-size beds. They built a custom frame around the bed and modified the old small headboard with some simple carpentry to be a king-size bed–notice how they reused the old footboard to extend the headboard. The new extentions on the headboard also provide a handy narrow bedside shelf. One of our number one recommendations to innkeepers is to remove footboards on beds to make a room airier and less congested–and they solved this problem too!

Cool! Check it out:

CarrollVilla Rooms 11 1 XL Victorian to Stylish: Great Budget Makeover at Carroll Villa Hotel

Room 11 with modified full-sized headboard

Like this post?? You may also like this recent blog post on room redos and with great interior photography from yours truly.

In case you haven’t noticed, food is HOT!  And if you own an inn, bed and breakfast or hotel where food is an important part of the experience, you need great pictures to entice potential guests and to let them know what to expect. It’s still shocking to us how many bed and breakfast websites have no pictures of breakfast! Keep in mind that breakfast is a big differentiator between a traditional B and B and a hotel or vacation rental. If you are doing it, FLAUNT IT! Perhaps one of the reasons innkeepers avoid breakfast pictures is that they can be difficult to style, compose, light and shoot. But believe it or not, you can get great photos with a simple smartphone camera these days. We hope this post inspires you to take a few food shots of your own.

Follow us on Instagram (“jumpingrocksphoto” is the username) to see what we are shooting on our iPhone (lots of food!) or visit the professional food photography gallery on our website  for more inspiration.


1) Focus First on Your Intention

Whenever we are on a photo shoot involving food, we first try to clarify what type of food photos a property needs. On your website, you should strive to capture WHERE breakfast is served (i.e. a porch, individual tables, group dining), WHAT is served (your culinary style, close-up shots), and HOW (“in process” shots of food, or food being prepared in kitchen). A successful photo should have a clear purpose and intent, well before you snap the shutter. In this post, we will primarily focus on the “WHAT” type of photo.

Lucilles Breakfast 04 XL Awesome Food Photos with ANY Camera: 11 Tips

WHERE the food is served, at Lucille’s Mountaintop Inn, GA

Lucilles U Food 14 XL Awesome Food Photos with ANY Camera: 11 Tips

WHAT will be served. Close-up of food at Lucille’s Mountaintop Inn, GA

Abeja u Breakfast 01 XL Awesome Food Photos with ANY Camera: 11 Tips

HOW is the food prepared. Food in process at Abeja Inn, WA

2) Keep it Simple

Keep the food and the propping simple. Stay away from heavily-patterned plates, placemats and colors or textures that “fight” with the food. The goal is to highlight the food and make the viewer’s mouth water…and get them to book a room! The viewer should be able to easily relate to the food; more recognizable dishes are best. Stay away from casseroles (what is this, breakfast or dinner??) , soufflés (they FALL!) or overly-complicated dishes that require a long verbal description to tell the story.

Glasbern2012 Food 23 XL Awesome Food Photos with ANY Camera: 11 Tips

Keeping it simple at Glasbern Inn, PA. It is what it is! Note the play of shapes: triangles, lines and circles.

3) Turn off that Flash and Find a Window!

Great photos of ANY kind are all about light, so first turn off all incandescent lights and use natural light. Our favorite set-up for any type of camera is window light backlighting the food and using mirrors and white foam-core boards to reflect light into the scene. Pick a bright window with direct exposure, then diffuse it with vellum or window sheers, wax paper, parchment paper or even get creative with lace! Set up a table in front of the window and get a couple of white boards to reflect that window light back onto the food. Get a small make-up mirror or wrap a brick in foil and use that to help open up the shadows on the dark side of the food. You’ll notice you are shooting into the light (what photographers call “backlighting”). Backlighting is key to bringing out the texture, dimension and color of food. Also try side-lighting, where the window is to the right or left of the camera. As you get more experienced, you can experiment with more direct light on the food. This is tricky, but it can be beautiful.

Check out this illustration (from above) for a back lighting set-up:



IMG 0298 Awesome Food Photos with ANY Camera: 11 Tips

Crisanver Food Breakfast 1 XL Awesome Food Photos with ANY Camera: 11 Tips

The breakfast table at Crisanver House Inn, VT. This is an example of direct lighting – tricky but beautiful when it works. We used a very thin piece of silk on the window to cut down on the highlights and control contrast.



4) Props and Background

Remember this type of shot is all about the food. But a few well placed props can provide context or make it more visually appealing. For a breakfast shot, we often use coffee or tea and/or juice, some silverware and a napkin. You can use these elements on the edge of the frame just to warm up the shot. Do you do a menued breakfast?? If so, add the menu just coming into the frame. Think about contrast: too many darks and lights outside of the food will detract from the food itself. Again–this shot is all about the food! Keep bright color and contrast in the frame to a minimum. Keep in mind your background as well–it does not have to be a white tablecloth. We have been known to shoot on wood floors, slate, tile, or black felt. Dark plates can be a beautiful and moody background for some foods, especially darker or jewel-toned food (roasted plum anyone?)

Lookout Point T Breakfast 03 XL Awesome Food Photos with ANY Camera: 11 Tips

Menu with Berry Shortcake at Lookout Point Inn, AR


Brampton 2010 Food%20%286%29 XL Awesome Food Photos with ANY Camera: 11 Tips

Roasted plums at Brampton Inn, MD. Keeping the background mid-toned rather than white brings out the great jewel-tones in this dish

TurkeyHill Food 09 XL Awesome Food Photos with ANY Camera: 11 Tips

This pizza and beer sampler at The Inn at Turkey Hill was shot on the wood floor of the old barn in which the the restaurant is housed. The wood tones work beautifully with the amber beer colors and toasted pizza crust.

5) Compose It

Great composition is about engaging the viewer and keeping the eye moving through the photo. Use color repetition throughout the scene (red peppers and a red napkin) and shapes (round sunny-side-up egg with triangular toast points) to create interest and harmony. Don’t be afraid to crop a part of the plate off and get closer! Shoot from the diner’s perspective. Try shooting from above. Getting on a step ladder and shooting down at a table-scape works great for many dishes.


Eden Vale Breakfast Food 12 XL Awesome Food Photos with ANY Camera: 11 Tips

One of Gayle’s amazing quiches from Eden Vale Inn, CA. This is a great study in contrasting shapes and color repetition.

SeaRock Dining Food 2 XL Awesome Food Photos with ANY Camera: 11 Tips

The granola parfait at Sea Rock Inn, CA. This is a close up element from their buffet. One parfait would be boring, but three makes the composition engaging because of repeating colors and shapes.


6) Food Styling…with Style

Styling can make or break a good food photo! When you create food for a food shoot, every step from cooking the food to assembling the plate should be in service of telling the story of this plate. If you are shooting an omelet, construct that omelet in a way that the viewer can tell what kind of omelet it is without a caption. One of the biggest mistakes we see is innkeepers over-garnishing (powdered sugar, parsley, sauces) so that you cannot even tell what the food is. A minamalist  approach is best. One trick we employ often is accentuating the three dimensional aspect of a dish by stacking it a little higher than you would normally serve it. Also, always add sauce and garnish at the table at the last minute and keep an eye out for wilting herbs. You could write a book on food styling, but wait–it’s been done! Our favorite book on the subject is by Delores Custer called “Food Styling”. Matthew took a class with Delores a few years ago; she is a genius and this book is interesting to any foodie.

Beechmont Breakfast EggHamCup 04 2 XL Awesome Food Photos with ANY Camera: 11 Tips

This egg baked in a cup at Beechmont Inn, PA was completely reconstructed for the camera to tell the story of the dish and highlight each element.

7) iPhone or Fancy Camera?

As much as we hate to say it, these days you can honestly get great photos with a smartphone. The newer models of the iPhone shoot quite well in low light conditions, they have built in features like image stabilization and High Dynamic Range (HDR) and also have good color representation. Will you get better photos with a fancier camera? Yes, but you must know how to operate the camera to get those photos. If you put a $1000 DSLR in automatic and shoot away, the results will honestly only be marginally better than with a smartphone. Understanding the manual controls and lens selections of a DSLR unlocks many of its strengths. The latest version of the iPhone operating system even has a slider to control exposure, which we use all the time. Also remember–most smart phones have a feature to select focus by touching the screen. Be sure to do this or the food might be out of focus, while the background is in focus.

Food demo 1024x354 Awesome Food Photos with ANY Camera: 11 Tips

These were shot with the diagram in tip #3, using side lighting . Can you tell which photo is the iPhone shot? The left is from a professional DSLR and the right from a older model iPhone, the 3S.


Here is a gallery of some iPhone food shots we’ve done over the years….



8) Add a Sense of Life!

What takes a food photo from great to awesome?? A sense of life, a captured moment or a movement. In food photos, you can get that through steam coming off a plate, an action shot of a sauce being poured, or a hand flipping an omelet. A chef’s hand, adding a garnish, also can add a sense of life and captured moment.

Goodstone Inn Food Lemon Souflee 4 XL Awesome Food Photos with ANY Camera: 11 Tips

A lemon soufflé getting a hit of powdered sugar from the chef at Goodstone Inn and Spa, VA. The black background makes the sugar really pop!

9) Selective Focus

Selective focus is a technique where one portion of the image is in focus while the background falls out of focus. It’s a great way to simplify the image and draw the viewer to a particular part of the image. It’s easy to achieve with a DSLR camera and a lens with a low aperture, but not really possible with a smartphone camera. The good news is you can achieve that same effect with some of the special smart-phone apps out there. Yes–there’s an app for that.

i F3vqG7N XL Awesome Food Photos with ANY Camera: 11 Tips

iphone photo with selective focus technique added via iPhone app “Camera+” filter called “depth of field”. It simulates look from a high-end DSLR

10) Apps and Such

Speaking of apps, if you are shooting with a smartphone, you can use one of the many camera apps to tweak exposure, color and clarity. Our hands-down favorite is Camera+, ($2.99) available for iPhone only. Camera+ allows you to shoot in manual mode, changing many of the settings that are “baked in” to the native camera app in the iPhone. You can also do lots of tweaking to make your pictures pop. AND, they have that filter called “Depth of Field” that simulates the selective focus technique we mentioned in tip 8. Instagram, free for iPhone or Android has some great editing tools including “Tilt Shift” which mimics selective focus. Be careful not to overdo it with filters though; the food should look natural!

11) Inspiration

To shoot great food, you need great recipes. Eight Broads in the Kitchen, a collective of innkeeper-cooks just released a beautiful new cookbook with tons of fabulous recipes and photos (many from us, including the cover!) Believe it or not, the cookbook even includes one of Matthew’s own recipes for Buttermilk Biscuits, which we made at our inn, The Woolverton Inn. Another book that was just released which we LOVE for breakfast recipes is Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets  and Recipes from our Kitchen. Huckleberry is one of our favorite breakfast spots in the country, in Santa Monica, California. This is a great book with creative and inspiring breakfast ideas.

8bckbk 2T Awesome Food Photos with ANY Camera: 11 Tips

Cover of the new Eight Broads cookbook

51AeA314e4L Awesome Food Photos with ANY Camera: 11 Tips

Wonderful creative recipes from one of our favorite breakfast spots in California

















Jack Hollingsworth, a professional photographer and iPhone photography advocate made this informational video about shooting food with a smartphone. Check it out for more information:





In preparing for our presentation, “Take Your Guest Rooms from Yesterday to Today and from Tired to Fresh—On a Budget!” at The Hospitality Marketing Summit in Denver next week, we stumbled upon some pretty interesting and inspirational room re-dos. We’ll be presenting these–and more great room decor ideas–gathered from our 10 years traveling North America, shooting over 150 inns, hotels and B&Bs.


Chanticleer Inn, Lookout Mountain, Georgia

Note all the changes that make this room feel much more updated!

1) A more tailored bedding approach. Note that the pleats are gone on the bedskirt and the pillow arrangement is cleaner, with a graphic-style decorative pillow and chic, white Euro-shams in the back. No more scalloped edges on the bedspread.

2) The top of the armoire has disappeared(!) and the flat-screen TV now sits directly on the fireplace, opening up the space and allowing a much improved TV-viewing experience. Clean, crisp upholstered chairs were added in slate gray, a great updated and versatile color choice–and now there are two chairs instead of just one (a major upgrade!) The toile curtains were replaced with a new elegant design. The bedside lamp was refitted with a sleeker drum shade.

3) The carpet was changed out for a wood floor. We are seeing this A LOT! Wood is much more sanitary and cleaning-friendly, especially in a room like this that steps right out to the garden. Also, wood makes the room potentially pet friendly, or at least MORE pet friendly.

4)  In a stroke of genius, the tiny pedestal sink was removed from the bathroom and a nice vanity sink was added in the bedroom. We love this change, as it allowed for a luxury shower to be added in the tiny bath–and justified a rate increase!

YOU GO Chanticleer Innkeeper-Designer Extraordinaire, Audrey! Amazing changes.


Chanticleer Inn Rooms 3 1 XL Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

Room 3 at Chanticleer Inn – AFTER

Before AfterChant Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

Another view featuring the sink that was moved to the bedroom to make room for a luxury shower- AFTER


Chanticleer Rooms 3 01 XL Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

Room 3 – BEFORE

Chanticleer Rooms 3 02 XL Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

Another “before” shot, showing the old bathroom sitting area configuration



Shiloh Morning Inn, Ardmore, Oklahoma

It’s been fun to keep flying back to Oklahoma to see all the changes Jessica and Dave have been making at Shiloh–and on a budget. One theme we have noticed in their renovations is adding a masculine twist to what was previously a pretty frilly and feminine inn. We’ve heard form many innkeepers that more masculine rooms are selling BETTER. That was also our experience as owners of The Woolverton Inn.

Adding reclaimed barn-wood to one wall and the interior of the turret transformed the space from a victorian fantasy (not Jessica’s thing) to more of a barn/silo theme. They did ALL of the work themselves. This was a budget job–you’ll notice they reused most of the furnishings, just adding the pendant light fixtures over the bar and new curtains. We suggested they paint the cabinetry (perhaps black or gray) to pull in the dark details of the barn wood and the fireplace surround. (Then again, maybe it was  just a ploy so they will invite us back again!!)

Kudos to Jessica–a very creative idea, indeed!


Shiloh Rooms Cottage Bluebird 01 XL Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

Updated Bluebird Cottage–the reclaimed barn wood speaks nicely to the area’s rural landscape


Shiloh Rooms BluebirdCottage 03 XL Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

Bluebird Cottage – BEFORE


Shiloh Rooms Bungalow 06 XL Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

AFTER – The Bungalow Cottage at Shiloh, reflecting a more masculine approach to color and decor


Shiloh Morning Cottage Bambi%20%284%29 XL Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

Bungalow Cottage – BEFORE. This color is a bit scary–how times have changed!



Rabbit Hill Inn, Vermont

Leslie and Brian at Rabbit Hill Inn in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom NEVER QUIT. We stumbled on this before and after of their Sterling Room and it almost knocked us off our chairs! They have added a contemporary twist to many of their new renovations and these changes have been very well received by their fiercely loyal  guests. It’s a bold move for America’s most venerable B&B market (and perhaps America’s most venerable inn).  We wrote a post a while back on another jaw-dropping room re-do at Rabbit Hill - read it here. 


RabbitHill Rooms Sterling 03 XL Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

Sterling Room at Rabbit Hill after a dramatic redo


RabbitHill Rooms Victoria 01 XL Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

Yes, this is the same room! Sterling! The bed is the same…but not much else!




What makes a photo go viral–beyond the silly, the ridiculous and the tricky? We’re talking about a viral photo in the context of the hospitality and travel marketplace. Over the years, a few of our photos have done just that–but how did it happen? Let’s talk about a few social platforms other than Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter. Those big-name tools are important, but very often other niche sites provide better traction. Believe it or not, when we looked at our own web analytics, we discovered that almost all of the traffic to our blog and website comes from these viral photos! And, we learned that Pinterest sends us much more traffic than Facebook…wow. Here are a few tips and insights from our experiences:

Case One: Food

1) Great food photos and accompanying recipes get fantastic traction! 30% of the most pinned photos last year on pinterest were food photos. Be sure to get great, crisp photos of your top culinary creations, and then post those photos with the recipe on your blog. Also, think seasonal, colorful, simple to prepare and PHOTOGENIC. Get some in-process shots as well; oftentimes those are more interesting than the finished product. Keep the composition clean and simple, lots of open space. Keep in mind that many sites require a square crop of the image and this should be considered when composing the photo. is the big player in this arena and you can get serious attention IF they accept your submission–their selections are highly-curated and it’s competitive, but the big boys of the internet and giant corporate bloggers cruise this site for content and re-post. It’s easier to get accepted to–less traffic, but it can drive hoards of people to your blog.

SwissWoods Food Breakfast 05 X2 The Anatomy of a Viral Photo

Swiss Woods’ tomato recipe–a viral phenomenon

The Parmesan Heirloom Tomato recipe from Swiss Woods Inn, which was posted on our blog about a year ago went crazy viral. It all started with our blog and the simple, totally seasonal recipe (it was August, peak tomato season). We posted it on and it was then picked up by for a piece on seasonal September recipes. is a specialist viral web content site with over 100 million unique visitors a month!! delivered 2000 views to our Swiss Woods blog post and the syndication to delivered another 15,ooo unique visits to that post within a year. The recipe also went nuts on pinterest with 1100 repins of the recipe. I talked to Swiss Woods’ owner Deb Mosimann shortly after the repost; she reported that she had a huge surge in Facebook likes on her page during this period. So cool!

Screen Shot 2014 09 07 at 4.05.55 PM 1024x369 The Anatomy of a Viral Photo

Display example from with some Jumping Rocks submissions. Inn names are imbedded in the captions for maximum exposure

Case Two: Inn Travel

Swag Scenics Gooseberry 03 XL The Anatomy of a Viral Photo

Couple at The Swag Country Inn…one of our most re-pinned photos on pinterest

This photo is our second most re-pinned photo from pinterest at over 500 re-pins. It’s on dozens of “places I want to visit” pinterest boards. This one was not picked up from our blog or the Jumping Rocks pinterest board but pinned by someone from our website, from the “Our Clients” page. We had installed a pinterest button on the page and that’s where it all started. Why this photo?? One thing you see in viral travel photos is destinations of high drama or mood. The Swag fits this description perfectly, as they are located over 5000 feet up in The Smoky Mountains with world-class views, amenities and architecture. Also, the view and time of day are perfect, and including people helps viewers relate to the image and conjure up a personal fantasy. Note that the people are unidentifiable; this is important. It’s not about them, but about the experience. Aspirational images like this one make great viral photos. Other images that play very well on pinterest are the private outdoor showers of The Swag. Why?? These also are unusual amenities that take an ordinary vacation into the extraordinary. It’s a fantasy made real.

Swag 2014 Rooms Matthews shower 2 XL The Anatomy of a Viral Photo

Outdoor showers at The Swag are super popular re-pins on pinterest

Another place to post your photos to create viral traffic is dwellinggawker is a sister-site to foodgawker. dewellinggawker is like its sister site but focuses on architecture, homes and remarkable spaces and places. The same rules we mentioned above for foodgawker apply here as well. You’ll find less traffic on this site, but still good click-throughs. One of our more popular posts on this site was Iris Inn’s new cabins “Treehouses for Adults” . Why? For one thing, treehouse vacations are smoking-hot right now.  Also, the great mountain view in the photo makes this photo exotic and exciting. Finally, contemporary architecture is super-popular right now. This picture drove about 1000 visits to the blog post we wrote about the project. Heide and Dave called recently and said they have booked rooms directly as a result of this post! Hey–that’s the goal!

Iris cabin a 13 XL The Anatomy of a Viral Photo

Coolest accommodations at Iris Inn in Virginia. This photo was posted on dwellinggawker and drove direct reservations to the Inn as a result

Case Three: Special Event Travel Mary Jo Brink and Michael Salmon of the Hartstone Inn in Camden, Maine run a fabulous inn and recently started offering cooking classes and travel experiences in Italy, France and Spain. We were lucky enough to tag along and document their Tuscany trip a couple of years ago. They rent an entire villa for the event. When we arrived, we were taken by the amazing view from the room. We quickly set up some lights and shot an picture of the room with the view. A few months later, I posted this image on, a very popular social media site for super high-quality imagery. Getting noticed on this site is very difficult. The picture I uploaded was picked up as an “Editors Choice” and quickly gathered 1000 “likes”. 2000 people started following us on the site and the picture has had over 10,000 views. Why? Are we seeing a theme?? VIEWS. The Tuscan vacation fantasy. This photo is loaded with emotion and mood. Also, it’s just an interesting photo; the room is out of focus and the view is sharp. A photographic treatment like this creates a dreamy, other-worldly feeling. This photo was also posted on Google Plus and played very well there as well. See more pictures from our shoot from the cooking school vacation. 

HartstoneItaly Villa 01 XL The Anatomy of a Viral Photo

Shot from Hartstone Inn’s European Foodie Adventures’ accommodation in Tuscany. This photo went viral on

Summing it up… to create viral photo content in the hospitality and travel industry:

  • Photograph your seasonal, beautiful and SIMPLE recipes (the blogosphere is just like traditional press–they roll with the seasons!)


  • Get great photos. Hire a pro if you can. Come up with clear concepts for a viral photo and communicate those concepts to him/her


  • Understand the guidelines and preferences of sites that can help your photos go viral




  • VIEWS…It’s really about the view. Find a photographer who understands how to get a killer view shot. (We are damn good at that, BTW.)


  • Celebrate those unusual amenities such as outdoor showers, stargazer platforms, tree houses or noteworthy adventures  


  • Use people as props to help the viewer relate the photo and create scale


  • Employ unusual camera techniques such as super wide angle, or extreme vertical (great for pinterest), or selective focus seen in the Tuscany shot


  • Use your blog as starting point for spinning off your viral photos. Make that blog beautiful!

We recently returned from a photo shoot at L’Auberge Provencale (our 6th or 7th time?) and afterwards, Mark was compelled to write a “love letter” to owners Celeste and Alain, who spearhead the constant evolution of this fabulous inn.  Here is that letter, along with some pictures from the shoot, featuring the stunning cuisine of Chef Joseph Watters. But gorgeous food still has to taste great…and it does. After the shoot, we were fortunate enough to enjoy a spectacular meal, which we will never forget. 

Dear Celeste and Alain,

Since our recent shoot there, I’ve been thinking about you two—mainly reflecting on what makes shooting there so deeply rewarding—and successful. The fact is that we get great shots there because the key to the best shots is invested collaboration. Starting with your preparation for the shoot, Celeste, your involvement brings ideas that are always innovative, focused and seemingly infinite. Watching you and your amazing new chef, Joseph, respecting each other’s talents and perspectives, while moving towards a shared vision, was truly inspirational. It’s so obvious that you really care; it’s just in your DNA.

Even more impressive, that level of care is reflected in every aspect of L’Auberge Provencale. Even after 30 years there, you continue to realize your vision–always evolving, adding, renewing and improving. Recently you embarked on a mission to completely rebrand the restaurant—new name, new website, new everything! Your newest project—completely redesigning the restaurant space, adding a new bar, expanding outdoor dining and building a spectacular new top-of-the-line kitchen—is no little plan. You simply don’t know the term.

The phenomenon that is Alain and Celeste is only fully appreciated when witnessing it like we do: first-hand and behind the scenes. I know that after a few years in the business, there is a tendency towards complacency—it’s understandable. What is more difficult to understand is how one could continue to be so inspired, so eager to embrace change and so energetic in implementing big changes.

Prep 300x300 A Beautiful Evolution: Love Letter to a Favorite Inn

Prep table for shoot at L’Auberge food shoot

I remember the first time we were there working. I was blown away by the consistent and DETAILED execution of your Provencale theme throughout the inn—the fabrics, the ochre walls, the tile, the artwork, the gardens, the staff—and my personal favorite: the fact that you all answer the phone in FRENCH! I love it.

I’ve come to realize that the quality of what you deliver is actually derived from the incredible respect you have for your guests. The basic assumption is that your guests will appreciate the 6 varieties of house-baked bread at dinner, that the tile in their bathroom is authentic hand-painted tile from Provence, and that the fabrics and colors surrounding them are all truly Provencale. You assume that they will be somehow moved by the care that goes into every plate, every room, and every space. And I think they are.

The sad fact is that this level of commitment is rare. And nowadays, with hotels co-opting every creative idea they can from the inn world, and lodging properties becoming more and more alike, you are doing what makes this industry relevant—you are offering something they cannot. You have a unique vision, and the creativity, the taste and the spark to bring it to life. And you do all of these things with great humor and grace.

So I guess this is a love letter…or at the very least a fan letter. Call it what you will, I am a fan and I am in love…with L’Auberge Provencale and with your dedication, diligence, and creative vision, all of which are necessary to create an inn as remarkable as yours. Keep up the great work. Keep growing, both as a business and as people. As your vision continually evolves into  perfection, we are all more enriched for it.



LAuberge Food Amuse Bouche 1 X2 A Beautiful Evolution: Love Letter to a Favorite Inn

Your dinner begins with this amuse bouche…you immediately know this will be an extraordinary dinner


Transformation2 1024x694 A Beautiful Evolution: Love Letter to a Favorite Inn

The Creamsicle dessert…both beautiful and delicious, inside and out


LAuberge Food Gargouillouu 3 2 X2 A Beautiful Evolution: Love Letter to a Favorite Inn

Gargouillou, a composed array of different fresh vegetables, prepared various ways with colorful sauce pairings


LAuberge Food Chicken of the woods 3 XL A Beautiful Evolution: Love Letter to a Favorite Inn

Some of the great product Chef Waters uses: Hen of the Woods mushroom


LAuberge Food Chicken of the woods 1 XL A Beautiful Evolution: Love Letter to a Favorite Inn

The exotic Hen of the Woods mushroom (seen above) is transformed into what L’Auberge is calling “Chicken of the Woods”. The texture and taste bear an uncanny resemblance to chicken–perhaps the best chicken you’ve ever eaten!


LAuberge Food Tradition 1 X3 A Beautiful Evolution: Love Letter to a Favorite Inn

L’Auberge calls this table-side-prepared soup, “Breaking Tradition”. It features parmesan, vegetables, burnt onion, royal trumpets and bok choy. The broth percolating with fresh herbs creates a wonderful aroma that fills the dining room


LAuberge Food Tradition 3 XL A Beautiful Evolution: Love Letter to a Favorite Inn

After the broth is infused with the herbs table-side, it is poured over the vegetables


LAuberge Food house baked bread 3 XL A Beautiful Evolution: Love Letter to a Favorite Inn

The server presenting the 6 varieties of house-made bread La Table Provencale, the restaurant at L’Auberge Provencale

Check out the current menu at L’Auberge Provencale’s restaurant, La Table Provencale