Photos courtesy of Ashley Alexander
There’s enough sameness on the internet that we can’t help but be stopped dead in our tracks by something truly unique. Ashley’s food styling and photography is unlike anything we’ve seen — we always recognize her images instantly. We love the depth that she brings to her recipes and to her content, and we’re over the moon that she agreed to share the story of Gather & Feast with F&G!
Welcome to Flock & Gabble, Ashley! Tell us a little bit about you, and then tell us how you’d describe Gather & Feast to someone who’s never heard of it before.
Ashley: I live in beautiful Melbourne, Australia with my wonderful husband Mike. We love exploring our city; finding beautiful shops with local wares, and visiting lovely cafes and restaurants (we are very spoilt for choice here in Melbourne).
My aim through Gather & Feast is to share wholesome and nutritious recipes, using natural ingredients and fresh in-season produce. My hope is to encourage people to gather and feast with the ones they love in a beautiful, fun and stress-free way and enable them to enjoy food that is visually pleasing as well as delicious and nutritious.
Walk us through your thought process behind naming Gather & Feast – why did you choose that name, and what does it mean to you?
Ashley: ‘Gather & Feast’ was inspired by a thought of the multifaceted meaning of to gather and feast. The gathering together of beautiful food, and also the gathering together of friends and loved ones. To feast, to celebrate, to share, to enjoy, to love.
gather – verb \gath·er \ˈga-thər also ˈge-\
To bring things or people together into a group. To choose and collect (things). To get or take (things) from different people or places and bring them together.
feast – noun \ˈfēst\
A special meal with large amounts of food and drink. An elaborate and usually abundant meal often accompanied by a ceremony or entertainment. Something that gives unusual or abundant enjoyment, a visual feast. A periodic observance commemorating an event or honoring a person, or thing.
Is Gather & Feast your full-time job, side hustle, or hobby? What was/is your “other” career?
Ashley: Gather & Feast is my ‘side hustle’. I also work as an executive assistant at a not-for-profit.
Which pieces of content are you most proud of, or would you want someone who’s new to your brand to check out first, and why?
Ashley: Probably my three most recent posts on the website. I feel like we improve every time we do a new shoot. I am also pretty proud of my free recipe eBook. We created it a few years ago now and it contains over 40 of my favourite recipes.
Tell us about one of the toughest challenges you’ve faced since starting Gather & Feast. What would you say to someone who’s living their absolute lowest moment right now?
Ashley: The free recipe ebook we launched along with the birth of the Gather & Feast website was definitely a big challenge for both my husband and I. We were new to food photography and styling which meant there was a lot of learning and trial and error, not to mention late nights and time sacrifices as we were both working full time jobs (and still are today). We had a vision to create something beautiful and valuable to gift all our new followers, and in the end it was definitely all worth it.
With everything we post on Gather & Feast we always ask ourselves; “how will this value our audience?” The more value we can create for our ‘tribe’ the greater growth and success we have. My encouragement to anyone out there struggling with their blog is to remind yourself that nothing great comes without sacrifice, and in the world of blogging its a marathon and not a sprint. With great discipline, hustle, commitment, and ‘showing up’ everyday, you’ll start to see the fruit of your labour.
Now, tell us the most awesome, champagne-popping-est story of your journey so far.
Ashley: I’m not sure if I have a ‘champagne-popping’ moment but seeing the crazy growth the G&F Instagram account has had in just over a year has been very exciting! It’s so good to see all your hard work pay off with little ‘wins’ along the way. Also being contacted to work with brands you’ve admired for years is a highlight.
Remind yourself that nothing great comes without sacrifice.
What are your best tips for those of us who are a little overwhelmed by the thought of hosting dinner parties and entertaining groups of guests? (Asking for a friend.)
Ashley: Keep it simple and stick to what you know you can do. You want to enjoy yourself and not be in a ridiculously stressed out state because your ‘Heston Blumenthal’ style dinner is falling to pieces. 😉
Also, preparing in advance is key. Think about how you want your night to go. Is it super casual? A little more formal? Then go from there. Plan out your menu and map out the timing of everything. I think many of us underestimate the time it takes to prepare things, so prepare in advance, keep it simple, and have fun!
What inspired your passion for cooking and food photography?
Ashley: I’ve always loved food and cooking. When I was really young, I would grab a big stack of mum’s cookbooks and sit on the floor and pour over them. I loved it! I loved to see the different ingredients and flavours that people would combine together. I also found the science of baking so fascinating. It intrigued me how various methods, using similar products, could create something so different. I don’t think much has changed. I still love sitting on the floor with a big stack of cookbooks.
I don’t think much has changed. I still love sitting on the floor with a big stack of cookbooks.
What app, tool, or other resource has had the biggest impact on Gather & Feast in the last year?
Ashley: ‘Trello’ (a free to-do/project management site/app) and ‘Google Apps’. I love them, especially Google Apps. I use Google Drive everyday! I use it to keep my content in order, share content with collaborators, keep track of posts, store all my social media photos… pretty much everything.
What hobby, activity, issue, cause, charity, or other organization are you super passionate about?
Ashley: I am super passionate and supportive of organisations, NGO’s and social enterprises who are in the business of making the world a better place through the eradication of poverty, in particular hunger. I work for a large development NGO, so this is a cause very close to my heart.
What are your biggest, wildest dreams for Gather & Feast?
Ashley: I would LOVE to do a series of travel cookbooks one day!
Name three women who you think are totally killing it online.
Lucy Feagins, The Design Files I am a long time fan of Lucy and her site. She has built a space that is perfectly curated, with a wonderful mix of established artists and talent, but also spotlights the ‘up and coming’ talent in the local creative industries. So great.
Mimi Thorrison, Manger I love Mimi’s food and lifestyle philosophy, and the beautiful way it is reflected on her site. Her stunning images will make you want to move to Medoc in a heartbeat!
Linda Lomelino, Call Me Cupcake I love Linda’s food photography style, I feel as though I have learnt a lot by observing her work from afar. I especially love her use of flowers and foliage in her food styling, just beautiful!
Editor’s note: y’all know we can never resist when our guests name more than three women whose work they admire. It’s our kryptonite.
Beth Kirby, Local Milk I have always loved and admired her eye for just perfect styling and photography.