Creative Luminary: An Interview With Judith Puckett-Rinella

She’s been nominated for four Emmy Awards, has won two Webby Awards, has worked with virtually every renowned photographer in the US (from Annie Leibowitz to Mario Testino), overseen shoots with stars like Penelope Cruz and George Clooney and was the photography director at T: The New York Times Style Magazine and Vanity Fair. Enough said, right? But in my opinion, what really sets Judith Puckett-Rinella apart is her ability to connect and collaborate with talented artists to create original works - exclusive pieces which she then passionately shares with the world through Whisper Editionsher online gallery. She is everything I would ever aspire to be: a connector, curator and creative luminary! And I was fortunate enough to get a chance to ask her a few questions about her new (and incredibly exciting) journey…

What inspired your move from magazine photography editor to founder of Whisper Editions?

Magazine editing is pure joy when there are stories that need to be told and dynamite photographers to tell help tell them. But not all stories in magazines are super creative and need a passionate retelling photographically speaking. In my heart I knew it was time to move on and make a space in which I could work with luminaries to create amazing things from scratch. Things that embodied passion, heart, and pure talent. Things you couldn’t find anywhere else in the world.

What sets Whisper Editions apart from other sites?

Whisper works with artists to distill each edition down to it’s purist form. We simplify things so much so I am constantly asked for more more more from people- almost everyday. But my answer is always this- everybody else has more more more- and in my opinion too much. Whisper has only the best of the best – always. Simple, distilled, exclusive, and pure (made responsibly).

How do you select the artists that you collaborate with?

At first I reached out to all the artists that I had had long standing relationships with- individuals who were very near and dear to my heart. I had a deep understanding about what each artist was capable of- and how far I could push them to create something extraordinary. Now we are expanding and it is super exciting to meet new people and discover amazing talent. I get butterflies each time I begin a new dialogue with an artist.

What collaboration has been the most well-received so far?

I think that the Todd Hido edition and the Lina Noel editions have been the most popular. They are both so special and unique- and nearly sold out. Only a tiny few remain in each of those two editions on our Vault.

 

9216_b - An exclusive print from Todd Hido’s cinematic book of photography, “Excerpts from Silver Meadows.” The photograph depicts a snowy road and tree in the Silver Meadows area of Kent, Ohio, where Hido grew up. The landscape is captured with the meditative tone Hido is so celebrated for, lending it the haunting familiarity of a memory or dream. Each print comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

 

 

Arches Ring - This gorgeous, handcrafted ring was custom-designed for Whisper by Lina Noel. With a mixture of metals called Osby – a combination of bronze, brass and an alloy that lends the shine of gold and does not tarnish. Noel created this piece using only sculpture tools and no drills. For the two nuggets, one large and one small, Noel took inspiration from the tiny boulders she spotted in the Grand Canyon.

 

Do you own any pieces from the site? If so, which ones?

I am lucky enough to be surrounded by at least one of each edition (and love wearing all the jewelry!). If I didn’t want each edition for myself- I would never ever create it with the artist to begin with! But the truth is most of the large scale framed photographs are on a constant revolving schedule- they live here at Whisper Headquarters, but also travel far and wide to be exhibited all over the country. In fact, all the pieces are being installed in our new pop up store nicknamed the Whisper “Lighthouse” in the newly revitalized SEE/CHANGE South Street Seaport in conjunction with the Dossier Outpost. This is to celebrate our seasonal program called Whisper’s Summer of Salt + Sea. We are diving into all things Ocean related including an exclusive Clark Little wave photograph, a Shark tooth necklace by Sara Beltran, a custom line of surfboards by Vital Force, and many many more.

Hana Hou – world-renowned water photographer, Clark Little, captured this wave – exclusively for Whisper – just as it arced and framed the rising sun on a calm, windless morning on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii.

If there’s one artist you could collaborate with, who would it be?

I feel so lucky to be collaborating with the artists we are already working with. If you would have asked me this question a few months ago I would have said Ralph Gibson- but we just released our first edition together and I am over the moon because of it. I have such a great deal of respect for him and his work- working with him was definitely a dream come true. I also love Raymond Meier, Nadav Kander, Roe Ethridge, and Jim Goldberg. So maybe there will be something from them in the near future.

Can you describe the Whisper Editions client?

Wow- I think that each on of my clients is super unique, but I will say one thing they all have in common- they have a deep seeded desire to break out from the mold. They want the best of the best and are curious about the world they live in. They know how to create a beautiful life from themselves and those they love and they care about what they surround themselves with and what they adorn their body with- both male and female. They respect and admire good design- and they are extremely in the know.

Why the expansion into Canada?

It is absolutely logical and would be a mistake not to. There is such a huge amount of talent in Canada, some of the best book printing presses, incredible natural resources, unbelievable landscapes and wildly talented photographers shooting them, and some of the most exciting young designers available.

Can you give us a hint about any upcoming collaborations?

Pottery. Your heard it here first. Hand made……and super cool- works of art that are utilitarian (and affordable) and all curated by the illustrious Pilar Viladas (the grand-dame of design and one of Whisper’s new guest curators at large). I can’t wait to show you.

Maple-Blueberry Chicken Stuffed with Canadian Brie and Basil Crème

Who doesn’t love serving up restaurant-quality dishes to their friends and fam for dinner? There’s nothing quite like the sparkle in their eyes when you place a plate of deliciousness in front of them, especially when it’s a flavor combo they’ve never tasted. But who has the time to dream up the recipes and spend countless hours preparing meals, right? Not me! So I was thrilled when the Dairy Farmers of Canada sent over an easy recipe (30 min prep, 25 min cooking time) that is bound to impress the socks off my loved ones. They had me at maple and brie…

What I love about this recipe: it doesn’t require too many ingredients (and most of them are things you probably already have in your kitchen), it doesn’t involve any advanced kitchen techniques (other than deboning the chicken breasts) and it’s healthy! Oh, and it smells soooo good: the aroma of fresh basil, lemon zest and the blueberry sauce permeated throughout my condo as I prepared our feast.

The best part? The flavour profile of this dish: the combination of fresh berries, basil and Real Cream is pure magic and elevates the much-loved chicken breast to a whole new level. A big thanks to chef Devan Rajkumar (the executive chef at Bosch, Thermador and Gaggenau) for rethinking the classic berries and cream combo and coming up with such a tasty recipe! Ok, now what you’ve all be waiting for: the recipe!

Maple-Blueberry Chicken Stuffed with Canadian Brie and Basil Crème

Ingredients

  • 4 bone-in skin on chicken breasts, (about 2 lbs/ 1 kg)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) diced chilled Canadian Brie cheese
  • 12 large basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil

Maple-Blueberry Sauce:

  • 2 tsp (10 mL) butter
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped shallot
  • 1 cup (250 mL) blueberries
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) maple syrup

Basil Crème:

  •  1/2 cup (125 mL) 35% cream
  •  8 basil leaves
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) each salt and white pepper
Preparation
  1. Using a sharp knife, debone chicken, leaving skin attached. Holding knife horizontally, insert into thick end of each chicken breast and cut to make a deep pocket (careful not to pierce through; remove and reserve fillet for another use).
  2. In small bowl, combine Brie and basil; carefully stuff into each chicken pocket. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Maple-Blueberry Glaze: In a small saucepan, on medium heat melt butter. Add shallot and sauté until translucent, about 1 minute. Add vinegar and maple syrup and bring to a boil; add blueberries and cook until berries soften about 4 minutes. Set aside.
  4. In a large oven-proof skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Place chicken skin side down and cook until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes; turn over and place in preheated oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until juices run clear and a thermometer registers 165° F (74°C).
  5. Basil Crème: Meanwhile, in a small saucepan bring cream to a simmer on medium heat, stir in basil leaves and remove from heat. Puree with an immersion blender or in a blender. Stir in lemon zest, salt and pepper.
  6. To serve, spoon 2 tbsp (30 mL) of the basil crème sauce in the center of each plate; top with chicken breast and spoon maple-blueberry sauce over the chicken.

Hope you like this dish as much as we did! For more delicious recipes from chefs across Canada, head over to www.AnyDayMagic.ca. Happy cooking and feasting!

Special thanks to the folks at Dairy Farmers of Canada for sending over the ingredients and recipe for me to try out. As always, all reviews and opinions are entirely my own.

Shakespeare in High Park

Photo credit: Sik Photography.

Nestled in the heart of Toronto’s largest public park, you’ll find a magical place. A place where friends and families gather to feast on picnics and take in the fresh, summer air as they watch a group of talented actors bring Shakespeare’s plays to life. For some, Canadian Stage’s Shakespeare in High Park, is an annual tradition. For me, it was a first-time experience…

Photo credit: Sik Photography.

With a mini-picnic in hand, my friends and I headed to the opening night of Titus Andronicus. Having never been to a performance at the park, we were a bit worried that we’d get lost, but there were plenty of volunteers and signs to guide us along the way (side note: I love the signs). 

Photo credit: Sik Photography.

Photo credit: Sik Photography.

When we arrived around 7:30 pm, the amphitheatre was filled with families, couples and groups of friends. Some were seated on the tiered hill while others relaxed on their blankets in front of the stage. Fortunately, we were given cushions; I’m no longer a spring chicken and definitely benefitted from the padding under my tush!

Photo credit: Sik Photography.

The 90 min performance was action-packed and engaging; Beau Dixon (who portrays the villainous Aaron) even encouraged the audience to participate...

Photo credit: David Hou.

I thought the director, Keira Loughran, did a great job with her symbolic take on the play; however, there are some intense scenes that are not appropriate for kids. There’s cannibalism, murder, mutilation, rape – you get the idea. It is, after all, a Shakespearian tragedy

Photo credit: David Hou.

The 12-person cast put on a great performance, but in my opinion Beau Dixon and Shauna Black were the standouts. Oh yes, there are some risqué scenes as well…

Photo credit: David Hou.

But have no fear if you’ve got little ones; luckily, the pay-what-you-can summer series is a double-bill! The other play, As You Like It, is a Shakespearean comedy that is perfectly suitable for all. The performances run on alternate nights throughout the summer (from now until August 31) so just make sure you check the schedule before heading there. If you haven’t experienced Shakespeare in High Park, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s a great way to spend a summer night with friends or family!

Some tips and info before you go…

  • Pack a picnic, take a blanket or two (it gets chilly) and don’t forget your bug spray!! You’re in the middle of High Park so you’ll be surrounded by all kinds of nature – we even saw a few bats during the performance!
  • Titus Andronicus runs on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and As You Like It runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
  • Entrance is free for kids 14 and under and pay-what-you-can for adults at the gate ($20 suggested minimum donation). 
  • You can also reserve your ticket online for $25 so you don’t have to show up at 6 pm to grab a spot (it’s a popular summertime activity). Oh, and this way you’re guaranteed entrance to the amphitheatre, even on a busy night. And you get a cushion! 

A New “Butcher” In Town: YamChops

Post written by: Ildiko.

Photo credit: Sik Photography.

I never thought I would hear the words vegetarian and butcher in the same sentence – until now! Growing up in an Eastern European family, our meals were all centred around meat and potatoes. Even to this day, when I go to my parents’ house for their regular feasts, they serve at least four or five meat courses (in addition to their ‘side’ dishes). So when I told my mom that I decided to become a vegetarian about a year ago, she genuinely worried that I wasn’t going to be able to eat anything. But once I showed her some meatless meat options, she became more comfortable with the idea: at least the food resembled what she was used to. So when I got invited to the YamChops opening, I was super excited to see and – more importantly – taste their vegetarian and vegan creations

Photo credit: Sik Photography.

When I walked into the College Street store, the first thing that caught my eye was the L-shaped counter where they display all of their meatless meat. It was filled with a variety of different food options, everything from beet burgers to ‘no crab’ crab cakes. YamChops also sells condiments, specialty drinks and juices and frozen foods for pretty much any diet. I had a chance to sample a few of their favourite recipes at the opening night event:

CARROT LOX BITES – Organic carrots marinated in smoky spice blend and baked to “lox’s” smooth texture. Served with cashew sour cream, capers and dill. Photo credit: Sik Photography.

RAW PAD THAI – Spiralized carrot, zucchini, beet and the house-made raw pad thai dressing. Topped with nut and seed blend. (My personal favourite!) Photo credit: Sik Photography.

TUNA-LESS TUNA SLIDERS – Free range chick peas, massaged to “tuna” like consistency, and dressed with vegan mayonnaise, dill pickle, red onion and nori. Photo credit: Sik Photography.

COCONUT BA-CON – Organic coconut flakes are marinated in slightly smoky, slightly, salty, slightly maple-y marinade and then baked off until golden and crisp. Photo credit: Sik Photography.

I’m always on the lookout for new vegetarian food options that are healthy, tasty and interesting (which is more difficult than you might think). Not only is YamChops’ food delicious, but all of their meatless meat options are filled with essential protein and vitamins great for any diet. I’m excited to try more of their vegetarian and vegan-friendly dishes; next on my list is their chick’n cutlet parmesan – yum!

Photo credit: Sik Photography.

A special thank you to YamChops for hosting me! All reviews and opinions are entirely my own.