CO-FOUNDER | PHOTOGRAPHER
Sarah Cramer Shields
CO-FOUNDER | PHOTOGRAPHER
“We reach beyond the flavor to capture the stories behind meals shared at the tables of local chefs, farmers, growers, bakers, craftspeople and food enthusiasts, because we believe that recipes are richer than the ingredients used to prepare them.”
Beyond the Flavor is an online food resource for Charlottesville, Virginia. We seek to support and enrich our community’s connection to the food grown and raised in its fields, pastures, gardens and backyards.
To do this, we reach beyond the flavor to capture the stories behind meals shared at the tables of local chefs, farmers, growers, bakers, craftspeople and food enthusiasts, because we believe that recipes are richer than the ingredients used to prepare them.
We share the stories we’re told and the skills we’re shown with our readers, so they can better utilize the vast local food resources our community has to offer.
Beyond the Flavor came about because we each felt a strong desire to develop a deeper connection to Charlottesville’s food community. What began as a discussion of food photography on a flight to New Orleans evolved into a mission to tell the stories of the meal s that fill our town.
This project has blossomed into something richer than we could have imagined during that long weekend in New Orleans. Following the threads of our subjects’ stories has led us to see the tapestry of passion, devotion and talent our community offers — one that can feed and sustain us all.
Welcome to our table. We’re glad you’re here!
— Sarah & Andrea
SARAH CRAMER SHIELDS
Sarah specializes in environmental portraiture. Her focus is documenting her subjects with honest, accurate portraits. Her passion for food and stories stems from a life filled with exposure to culture and travel. She credits her parents for planting these seeds.
A Charlottesville resident for more than a decade, she spends her days documenting people, creating in the kitchen, working on an old house and living life well with her husband Matt and their two dogs, Charley and Crosby. Dual degrees in Fine Art Photography and Anthropology serve as a natural extension of her passion for understanding people and making beautiful images.
Sarah has documented people professionally for the past seven years through her studio, Cramer Photo. She lives to tell stories with her photographs.
Are you food critics?
Absolutely not! We are storytellers. Our featured subjects choose the recipes they would like to share, and we tell the story behind those recipes. All our subjects participate voluntarily and we have been fortunate to have many of them seek us out to be included. The exposure these individuals receive to a wider audience helps support and grow their businesses. That is why we do what we do.
How do you find subjects for your stories?
Our subjects often find us! When we embarked on this project, we reached out to a few local chefs and artisans that we had met over the years to help us generate our first stories. As interest in the project has picked up over time, we’ve had more local farmers, chefs, artisans, vendors, and food enthusiasts approach us with their interest in being involved. As for some of the other types of stories on our site—like Drink This!, Make This!, Happenings, and Kitchen Skills—we source these from a combination of stories we find and others we’re told about. We are always happy to receive suggestions from our readers; feel free to contact us.
Do you pay for interviews or recipes?
The individuals who share their stories, recipes, and skills with us do so out of their own kindness and generosity, furthering the community-focused nature of this project. In return, those featured on Beyond the Flavor gain exposure to a wider audience—one interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the skills, talents, and perspectives these individuals offer. It is one thing to hear about “local food”; we aim to give that phrase meaning.
Is Beyond the Flavor a nonprofit?
We are not a nonprofit, but we are a passion project, meaning that we volunteer our time, equipment, and talents to create and maintain this venture.
Why did you choose to use a Kickstarter to fund creation of this website?
When we launched Beyond the Flavor in January 2012, we created a website ourselves. Over the months that followed, we were delighted to find a loyal, enthusiastic readership, and it became clear that we’d need to retool our site to meet the needs of that audience.
This project is all about the pleasure of food and community, and rather than clutter our site with advertisements in order to pay for upgrades, we instead thought that crowdfunding would be a more appropriate tool. We were awestruck by the gracious support we received from individuals and businesses. A portion of those funds helped us secure the services of Convoy, a local Charlottesville design firm that helped us build a more versatile, functional site, so this project could continue to evolve and grow. It has also helped us to secure the talents of some local writers to help us increase the volume of content on our site, so we may continue to be a useful resource for our readership.
What is the story behind the Beyond the Flavor dinner hosted by Hill and Holler?
To celebrate our successful Kickstarter, Hill and Holler hosted a dinner at the Old Metropolitan Hall in downtown Charlottesville in April 2013. Seven of our Kickstarter donors received tickets to the event as a thank-you for their support, and the proceeds benefited our local farming and food enthusiast community. It was a fabulous evening that encapsulated everything we love about our vibrant local food scene.
Do you intend to put advertisements on your site?
We do not run ads on our site. We believe the concept of community is at the heart of our project, and we currently feel that is best supported by keeping this site focused on the food-related stories, recipes, skills, and resources of our community.
Do you eat amazing food like this for all your meals?
We wish! Charlottesville has a incredibly diverse food culture, and we heartily enjoy exploring it, both through Beyond the Flavor and on our own. That said, just like most folks with full-time jobs and young families, there are plenty of popcorn-for-dinner nights, too.
What is the Beyond the Flavor book? How is it different from the website?
As artists, seeing this project in a tangible, printed format has been a goal since its inception. Our book, which we hope to publish annually, will be similar to our website, with narrative articles, recipes, and photographs, but will have its own original content. This high-quality, advertisement-free publication will include several feature-length stories about individuals or businesses in our local food community, captured with beautiful images and words. It will also include the voices of local writers, as well as food producers and enthusiasts, who will share reflections on Charlottesville’s food culture and icons.
It is our hope that this publication will reach a broad audience and will, in tandem with the website, help to elevate Charlottesville on our nation’s food map. The book will be available for purchase in Fall 2013.
What is a Beyond the Flavor “sponsor”?
On our website, sponsors are individuals or businesses that donate funds to help sustain this project, and many of these sponsors donated through our Kickstarter. These funds help pay for the ongoing equipment and technology expenses, and provide resources to help us, over time, generate a higher volume of content for the site. All of us have full-time jobs outside of Beyond the Flavor, and these funds have been vital for helping to keep this passion project going.
In our book, sponsors are individuals or businesses that have chosen to allocate funds—often portions of advertising budgets—in order to promote others within our local food community in feature-length articles that spotlight the great efforts undertaken by those individuals to create a more sustainable, healthier food network.
Is Beyond the Flavor subject to copyright?
Yes. Unless otherwise specified, all photography and text featured on this site is the property of Beyond the Flavor, Sarah Cramer Shields and/or Andrea Hubbell. All rights are reserved. If you would like to feature an image or text you see on Beyond the Flavor on your personal blog or website, please ask for written consent first and give proper credit to Beyond the Flavor and/or Sarah or Andrea. For commercial use, publication, and general distribution, please email us for licensing rates.
Do you moderate comments on your website?
We feel that the more voices and ideas on our site, the better. This space is meant to be an informative, enjoyable resource for our community. Thus, we do not permit profanity, pornography, or abusive or mean-spirited language. Comments of that nature will be removed immediately.
So, where do you come down on one of the most important issues of our time: sweet or savory?
On this, we are divided. Sarah votes for savory, and Andrea votes for sweet. But let’s be honest: we eat everything! Happily.