Food looks best on white plates. At least that’s what popular wisdom tells us. There’s no doubt that the absence of colour makes us focus on the food. Most restaurants serve their meals on white plates. Food magazines often showcase the finished product on white. And for the most part, photographing food on white is the path of least resistance.

But certain foodstyling demands its own category when it comes to look and feel. Such was the case with this recent project for Churchill Wild. The company has a string of eco lodges across the North that offer up-close-and-personal experiences with polar bears and belugas. Under the same umbrella is Webbers Lodges, another collection of outposts that offer fishing and hunting experiences. Much of the food served at these lodges comes from a series of recipe books written by company matriarch Helen Webber.

I brought a couple of white pieces along to the photo shoot. They were quickly dismissed by photographer Ian McCausland. “They’re just too stark for this.” And he was, of course, right.

You can just catch the edge of the white gravy boat on the left side of the image.

You can just catch the edge of the white gravy boat on the left side of the image. Photo by Ian McCausland.

Out of 800+ shots, this pretty white gravy boat made it into four before it was tossed aside in favour of a silver plated vessel — probably a creamer — to hold sauces and gravies.

The silverplated creamer takes the place of the white gravy boat for a warmer look on this Almond Crusted Lake Trout.

The silverplated creamer takes the place of the white gravy boat for a warmer look on this Almond Crusted Lake Trout. Photo by Ian McCausland.

These lodges are located in remote spots across Canada’s north. The landscape is rugged. And a lot of the food features ingredients harvested from the land including lake trout, caribou and Arctic cranberries. Using white plates just didn’t fit. Instead, we used wooden platters and bowls, metal platters (with lots of age), stoneware, pottery, slate, cast iron and ancient cutlery to create a warm and earthly feel for the shots.

A bronze platter, cast iron skillet, a green pottery pot and my son's Grohmann knife set the tone for grilled goose breasts.

A bronze platter, cast iron skillet, a green pottery pot and my son’s Grohmann knife set the tone for grilled goose breasts. Photo by Ian McCausland.