An Oakland Thanksgiving in Martha Stewart Living

Last year, on the day we had the photo shoot for my website, I returned home to several dozen emails, as usual.  

What was extraordinary was that the editor-in-chief of Martha Stewart Living had sent an email, asking if I wanted to put together an "orphan Thanksgiving in Oakland" story for the November 2011 issue.


I'm still not sure how that happened.  But there was definitely some magic involved.  Clearly, I jumped at the opportunity, even though I was facing an intense November and December, with all sorts of Pop-Ups and catering gigs, and Tartine Afterhours all over the place.

photo by Aya Brackett

The next day, we spoke, and she asked if I had any ideas about who would be included, where we'd shoot, or who might be our photographer.

Um, well, we'd just had the most incredible photo shoot of my life the day before at Charlie's well-lived in hand-restored house.  Aya, the photographer of my dreams, with her wabi-sabi, beautiful mess philosophy, had effortlessly translated the feeling of me into hundreds of gorgeous photos.  So, I asked, "How about Aya?  How about Charlie's house?  How about a group of cooks and artists who represent the East Bay with grace and diversity?"

Amazingly, she said yes to everything!

photo by Aya Brackett

We shot a Fauxgiving lunch in mid-December, with the help of all of the lovely people you see in the photos, and so many you don't, including editors Stephen Johnson and Christine Albano from Martha Stewart Living, prop stylist Brian Andriola, who made the textures of Charlie's home sparkle, and all of the fantastic purveyors including BN RanchBlossom Bluff OrchardsTartine BakeryGhost Town Farm, and Riverdog Farm, who made it so easy to cook beautiful, delicious food.  And endless gratitude to Alice Waters who lent some plates, glasses and that wooden salad bowl for the shoot from her home and Chez Panisse.  Pretty much everything else was mine, Charlie's or Chris and Janet's.  

photo by Aya Brackett

As my friend Amber said, "I remember when you started cooking, we used to cook from Martha Stewart Living, and now you're in it!"  

It's crazy, I know!  

I hope the piece offers a little bit of inspiration for your own holiday gatherings this year, and remind you to find family wherever you are.