In the heart of the Toronto Financial District there is a little heaven of simple and rustic French aesthetic that makes you feel like you may have just stepped into a small piece of Provence. Painted cabinetry, vintage chairs (imported from France), old glass bottles, pitchers and baskets, a long wooden communal table, blue-patterned tails and china, lavender and thyme create an idyllic atmosphere – the perfect contrast to the industrial-style downtown hangouts. Called Maman, this bakery café is the second outpost of the popular New York city SoHo bakery, launched by a Michelin star chef with La Chassagnette (a restaurant in the south of France) in partnership with a group of friends. Their passion for authentic food is tangible through the deliciousness of croissants, baguettes, thyme madeleines, lavender loafs, pumpkin quiche (divine!), salads and sandwiches like croque "maman".
I couldn't think of more perfect place then Maman to host together with Le Collectif – two talented young women, the most charming and beautiful food styling workshop and brunch gathering I have recently attended. From the fresh baked goods and the lovely flower arrangements to the pretty props we got to play with, everything was organized in an elegant and tasteful manner. "Less is always more" was the leitmotif of the food styling tips Danielle and Meg shared with all of us. It is something I have always believed in, but I am not sure if I am always able to attain simplicity, especially when it comes to styling food. I am also not convinced that it is necessary on all occasions. This brought a number of old and new questions to mind such as, what is style and how do we define a personal sense of style.
If style is a personal "manner of doing something", can style be taught? Is it a combination of interests, desires, beliefs, inspirations, lifestyle and choices of clothing? Are there certain techniques that can help us develop style or is it something innate that we grow and live with – unique as our thumb prints? And if it is in fact personal, then how we dress, how we style our homes, cook our food and feed our souls should be a unique part and reflection of who we are.
Candidly, I took part in the food styling workshop because I love what Maman and Le Collectif do and wanted to support their efforts. My reason wasn't necessarily to attain this popular minimalistic look of food styling which I adore but isn't always who I am. I am simply curious and open for new knowledge. And I am grateful for the wonderful experience I had on this early September morning – being surrounded by beauty and good food, I met those young, proactive people (among whom, I guess, I was the only middle-aged woman :) who reminded me how important it is to stay true to myself and my personal sense of style. Style, I believe, is authenticity, first and foremost. 

"Find something you are passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it" ~ Julia Child