Writing Around the Table with Dianne & Jamie

  • When: December 7 – 11, 2016
  • Where: Chinon, France
  • Venue: Hôtel Diderot

This exclusive 4-Day Retreat with Dianne Jacob and Jamie Schler offers the opportunity to immerse yourself in the art of food writing. The weekend features culinary excursions unique to Chinon and the Loire Valley, including a truffle hunt and wine-paired dinner. Inspired by the beauty of a cobbled French town, lovely lodgings at a 15th Century hotel, and practical exercises and prompts, you will take your ideas and writing in new directions.

Chinon architecture

Dianne and Jamie share their experience and knowledge during intimate roundtable discussions focused on strengthening your writing skills and exploring your food writing goals. You’ll get insider information on blogging and cookbook trends and how to write and pitch freelance food stories. Each participant will have a 30-minute, personal, one-on-one consultation with each instructor.




Writing Around the Table will be held the weekend of 7 – 11 December 2016 (Wednesday December 7 through Sunday December 11 at noon) at the Hôtel Diderot. The venue is an enchanting family-owned auberge de charme dating from the 15th and 18th centuries located in the center of the beautifully-preserved medieval French town of Chinon on the banks of the Vienne River.


The weekend will include a truffle hunt with trufficulteurs father and son François and Louis Houette, time at Chinon’s market and old town, a convivial cellar tour and lunch with wine tasting at the Château du Petit Thouars domaine, and a meal at La Part des Anges prepared by Chef Virginie Minon. You will have time to discover Chinon’s exceptional restaurants and cuisine, which may feature local specialities such as saffron or truffles, goat cheese Sainte Maure de Touraine, artisan foie gras, fresh river fish, la poire tapée, traditional dried, pressed pears, and, of course, Chinon’s world class wines from small family producers, reds and rosés of cabernet franc and whites from the chenin blanc.




Cost for the workshop is €1275 ($ 1,450) single occupancy, €1210 ($1375) double occupancy. This includes all workshop sessions and one-on-one private consultations with Dianne and Jamie, accommodations for 4 nights at the Hôtel Diderot, 4 breakfasts, 3 dinners including one at a local restaurant, 3 lunches, the truffle hunt, and the lunch with wine tasting at the Château. Workshop cost will not include airfare or transportation to or from the venue or insurance.

The Instructors



           Dianne Jacob is the author of the award-winning book  Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Memoir, Recipes, and More  (Da Capo/Lifelong Books) as well as the co-author of two cookbooks with Chef Craig Priebe, The United States of Pizza (Rizzoli, 2015) and Grilled Pizzas & Piadinas (DK Publishing, 2008). She is the author of The Good Pantry (Oxmoor House, 2015), with recipes from Cooking Light.

As a freelance writer, she has written for Lucky Peach, The Washington Post, and Gastronomica. Her piece in Lucky PeachThe Meaning of Mangoes, was the grand prize winner of the M.F.K. Fisher Awards for Excellence in Culinary Writing, Les Dames Escoffier, in 2016.

Former journalist and publishing company editor-in-chief, Dianne is now a full-time writing coach, author, and freelance editor. Her well-known blog Will Write for Food is aimed at writers and covers trends, issues, and techniques. She also continues her work as a freelance writer for local, national, and international publications. In 2013 she was named the Joseph Hoare Gastronomic Writer in Residence for the Stratford Chef’s School in Canada. She has spoken and taught at events and workshops around the world, including London, Dubai, Vancouver, Turkey, and Australia.

           Jamie Schler is a freelance writer and hotel owner in Chinon, France. After working as a culinary guide in gastronomic tourism and interpreter at the École Ferrandi in Paris, recipe editor and assistant editor for Master Chef magazine, she combined her passions for food and storytelling to forge a career as a writer specializing in food, culture and family.11046840_786077694819933_1926022207059735995_n

Jamie has been published in The Art of Eating, Fine Cooking, France Magazine, Modern Farmer, Leite’s Culinaria, deliberateLIFE, Paste Magazine, the kitchn, American Food Roots, Joan Nathan’s Notebook & Recipes, South African CRUSH magazine, French News Online, TED Weekends, RDV des Arts Culinaires among others. She has been a contributor to Huffington Post since 2010.

Jamie blogs at Life’s a Feast and is the writing half of the collaborative team behind the award-winning blog Plated Stories with photographer Ilva Beretta. Jamie is currently working on her first cookbook (Gibbs-Smith, autumn 2017) and the memoir of her life as an American hotel owner in France.

She has spoken at conferences, cultural events, and online panel discussions around the globe, including London, New Orleans, San Francisco, Orlando, Muscat, Oman, and Cape Town, South Africa, on food writing, food and culture, French cuisine and strategies for expat freelance writers. A passionate teacher, she has been organizing and instructing food writing at workshops since 2010.


Chinon homes



The Program

Wednesday, December 7:

5:00 – 7:00 Welcome, introductions.

Time to get to know each other, share our own writing histories, and our personal writing goals, both creatively and professionally.

7:00 – 9:00 pm Buffet dinner at Hôtel Diderot from Restaurant Côté Jardin.

Thursday, December 8:

7:30 – 9:00 Breakfast. Dianne and Jamie will hand out and discuss your first assignment: Choosing from a list of writing prompts connected to a pending market visit.

9:00 – 12:00 Notebook and pen in hand, you will visit Chinon’s morning, open-air market and stroll through the town’s medieval center and fortress. Return to the hotel to rest and write your first draft about some aspect of the market or a memory it triggered.

12:00 – 2:00 Casual picnic-style lunch at the hotel includes local food and products purchased during your morning outing. Students can read from their morning drafts (optional) and discuss the writing process.

3:00 – 6:00 Dianne will talk about food writing trends in blogs and cookbooks. Jamie and Dianne will share their freelance writing experiences and advice.

7:30 – 9:30 Dinner.

Friday, December 9:

7:30 – 8:30 Breakfast

9:00 – 11:30 We often hear writing instructors say “if you want to improve your writing the best thing you can do is write!” But what about reading? What can we learn from other writers? By reading a collection of extracts, Jamie will talk with students about the difference between writing and storytelling; how learning to read, analyze, and critique other writers’ work we can better understand, critique, and improve our own. Jamie will also talk about going from blogger to freelance professional, how to network, find your voice and niche, how to promote yourself, pitch publications, etc.

12:00 – 3:00: We travel to nearby Château du Petit Thouars for a visit to the family’s domain, followed by a wine tasting and lunch with Sebastien and D’Arcy du Petit Thouars.

3:00 – 4:00: Break at the hotel. Time to write.

4:00 – 6:00: Instruction with Dianne on writing techniques specific to food writing, with examples and exercises.

6:00 Free evening out.

Saturday, December 10:

7:30 – 8:30 Breakfast

9:00 – 12:00 We’ll head to a truffle hunt just outside the city with Louis and François Houette. Truffles are a specialty of this area of the Loire Valley. We’ll learn about the Rabelaisienne Black Truffle, and taste black truffle butter. Jamie will give you a creative exercise to stretch your ideas about writing.

12:00 – 1:30 Lunch on local fare at the hotel.

1:30 – 3:00. Break and one-on-one consultations with Dianne and Jamie on career strategies, writing technique, or whatever you like.

3:00 – 6:00 Share your work — either something written on site or a previous piece — with the group with feedback from Dianne, Jamie, and fellow participants. A question and answer session about writing, freelancing, pitching, and blogging follows.

7:30 Dinner at restaurant La Part des Anges.

Sunday, December 11

7:30 – 8:30 Breakfast

9:00 – 12:00 One-on-one consultations continue.

12:00 Workshop ends.


If you would like to be added to an email list for future events and workshops, please email us at writingaroundthetable@gmail.com


All registrants will receive an email with payment instructions and more details about the workshop. If you have an questions, email us at writingaroundthetable@gmail.com

— Jamie & Dianne


  • banner photo credit qeaql-studio

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