Events & Workshops

Food and Photography workshop

15th-19th September 2019 Ikaria, Greece

You are invited to the Greek Food and Photography workshop on the magical island of Ikaria.

Located in the eastern Aegean, Ikaria is blessed with a unique natural environment with waterfalls, beautiful streams and idyllic beaches: it is a nature lover’s paradise.

Immerse yourself in five glorious days and four nights of collaborative workshops and activities with Tessa Kiros, Lean Timms and Mary Valle, and immerse yourself in traditional Greek village life and culture.

If you love food, travel and photography; if you’re a foodie, photographer, blogger, stylist, writer, creative; or if you just want to spend some time on a beautiful Greek island with like-minded souls, then this is for you.

On Ikaria, you will learn about this Blue Zone region of the world. With one of the world’s highest concentration of centenarians, it is known as the island where people forget to die. What is the secret to their longevity, joy and peacefulness? Forage, visit local villages, and join a family for a meal to appreciate the lifestyle and understand the people of Ikaria.



Tessa Kiros

Born in London, Tessa’s mother is from Finland and her father is Greek-Cypriot. When she was four years old, she and her family moved to South Africa. At 18 years old, Tessa left to travel and learn more about the world’s cultures. In her twenties, she spent her time working in different restaurants and with families across the globe, including London, Sydney, Mexico and Athens.

Tessa chose to work with the people who really inspired her; they were her mentors in her journey through the world of food. While working and travelling she completed a correspondence degree in anthropology and sociology.

Tessa has a love for travelling and collecting things she loves from many places. She loves tradition, foods from different nations and cooking with families. She currently lives in Tuscany and spends much of her time in Greece.

Tessa has 10 cookbooks to date, including the award-winning ‘Falling Cloudberries’ and ‘Provence to Pondicherry’, and still loves collecting recipes.


Lean Timms

Photo credit: Andy Mullens

Lean Timms is an Australian freelance food, travel, lifestyle photographer. Forever exploring and full of curiosity for this world, Lean’s greatest love is to travel to and document the everyday in unique and inspiring places. Her approach to photography is driven by natural light, considered composition and capturing a genuine sense of place.

Leans photography work spreads across a select mix of editorial, commercial, publishing and content creation fields including notable airlines, hotels, tourism boards, magazines and publishing houses.

With a background in education and fine arts, Lean naturally loves to share in the joy of creating and relishes the opportunity to teach and encourage others in the art of photography.

Lean has been lucky enough to live throughout the world including Sweden, the U.K and the USA and is currently based in Canberra, Australia.


Mary Valle

Born to Greek parents, Mary grew up surrounded by tradition and a love of food. Mary’s love of travel, a rich Greek heritage and great skill in the kitchen has seen the Melbourne-based cook become one of Australia’s most-respected authorities on Mediterranean cuisine. Mary often spends time in her family’s home in Greece and nearby Mediterranean countries where she learns new techniques and recipes to add to her kitchen. She teaches Mediterranean style cooking in Melbourne, sharing her passion and love for food with others. She is the author of the best-selling cookery books My Greek Kitchen, My Mediterranean Kitchen and Everyday Mediterranean, and contributes to magazines regularly.

She lives with her family in Melbourne.



Day 1 – Sunday 15th September 2019

Arrival 2pm (transfer from airport to accommodation)

Welcome drinks and meze

Settle into rooms

Photography workshop with Lean. She will introduce you to the art of photography, how to capture that perfect moment and create a photography story. There will be time throughout the five days for personalised guidance as well as group discussions and assistance in gaining the tools you need to create striking photos.

Aperitif and shared long table welcome dinner.


Day 2 – Monday 16th September 2019

Swim or walk (optional)


Cooking workshop with Tessa. She will cook some of her favourite Greek dishes and share the process of writing a cookbook from the initial idea, to researching, to the final product. We will be styling and photographing the beautiful food Tessa cooks as well as enjoying tastings. There will be time over the five days to chat and share ideas with Tessa as we enjoy our time in Ikaria.

We will visit the quaint village of Christos Raches, where we will have time for a frappe and a wander before we stop for lunch.

In the afternoon we will visit Afianes winery and learn about the natural winemaking with local indigenous grape varieties. Here we will sample some wines accompanied by a meze platter.



Day 3 – Tuesday 17th September 2019

Swim or walk (optional)


Hike and forage for wild herbs with local Ilias. Ilias has lived on the island all his life and Ikaria is part of who he is. Here you will have time to capture beautiful photos while enjoying the spectacular scenery.

A cooking workshop will be led by Mary together with Athina. A local who has lived in Ikaria all her life, Athina will share her secrets to the Ikarian cuisine. Learn about the Greek Mediterranean diet, and the recipes and stories that inspired Mary to document traditional recipes and write cookbooks.

Time for some dancing. We leave for Kambos to attend the panayiri of ‘Agia Sophia’. Here we will have lunch, listen to the music, dance, and take photos, leaving in time to capture sunset.

Back to Armenistis for dinner


Day 4 – Wednesday 18th September 2019

Swim or walk (optional)

Early morning photoshoot to catch the best light.


Visit the picturesque port of Evdilos where we will stop for a coffee. We will walk through the gorgeous laneways, discovering hidden gems and capturing special moments and places on camera.

Seafood lunch

We will visit a family on their farm and gain an understanding of authentic daily life in Ikaria. There will be afternoon meze to enjoy here as well with an ouzo.

Return for a rest before a farewell dinner.


Day 5 – Thursday 19th September 2019


Question time. Ask whatever comes to mind; food and the blue zones; photography; social media; styling; business; researching recipes; writing a cookbook and where to start.

Farewells and goodbyes

Shuttle to airport 11.30 am



$3295 for 5 days and 4 nights, twin share (2 people per room)
Includes all meals, drinks with meals, bus transfers, activities, excursions and accommodation.

  • Single supplement available on request.
  • Payment plans are available for this retreat
  • Booking terms and conditions apply


The workshop includes:

  • Return transfers to and from Ikaria airport
  • Accommodation
  • Welcome drinks and meze on arrival
  • Daily breakfast
  • Lunches and dinners
  • Transfers to excursions on the island
  • Cooking and photography workshops
  • Presenters available during the entire retreat
  • Ikarian knowledge about longevity and the Blue Zones


Additional highlights:

  • Taking part in the local panayiri (festival) – get ready for some dancing!
  • Winery tour
  • Farm visit
  • Hike and foraging

Workshop exclusions:

  • International flights to and from Ikaria Greece
  • Travel insurance


For more information contact Mary
mobile: 0412 324 846

For travel bookings and payment contact Jodie
mobile: 0410 302 105



“Nestled in amongst the Greek islands near the shores of Turkey sits the rugged Ikaria, a place of legends and enjoys a fascinating history. Arriving there is easy with a short shuttle flight from Athens airport then a transfer to the hotel in Nas enjoying spectacular views along the way. Forget your busy scheduled life once you arrive on the island! People don’t live forever if they are stressed by schedules! Relax and enjoy a full realm of activities that may not follow the itinerary, but it all gets done when the weather or day is right. Don’t worry, there is lots to do such as a fantastic personal winery tour where you can taste fabulous Ikarian wines and maybe buy a bottle or two to take back home, or you may enjoy the bee farm and honey tasting. Ikarian honey is amazingly delicious and healthy. (Make sure you bring an empty suitcase for the kilos of honey you must bring back with you!) There is a monastery visit, thermal springs, time on the farm picking your own fresh produce to cook later and plenty of free time to enjoy the local Nas beach, or simply read a book with the most stunning views from the Inn.

Learning to cook the Greek way, is fun and easy and the best part is you will get to eat it later. We had the most beautiful food for the entire stay, and the Greek coffee is the best way to start your day.

There are over 100 festivals on the island and you are sure to go to one. The food, atmosphere dancing and especially the music under the stars will hypnotise you into wanting to buy a house and move to Ikaria permanently.
I highly recommend Mary’s Ikarian Retreat for a taste of everything, particularly some of the most delicious food you will ever eat.”

– Sue Naether
Ikaria 2017

I had the pleasure of sharing the simple joys of the Ikarian lifestyle with Mary Valle. The Food for the Soul Tour was an amazing experience and time to reflect on the importance of the simple things in life. I loved the group we travelled with and great friendships were formed with others who had a passion for wellness. The Mary’s kitchen cooking experiences were hands on and diverse and I am already cooking some of my Ikarian favourites for the family back home. Ikaria is a unique place so different to the more commercial islands but with a heart and soul that invites you to visit again and again. Without wanting to give too much away expect sunshine, a relaxed pace and the warmth and hospitality of the community. Thank you Mary for a wonderful experience.

-Effie Krambias

Ikaria 2018

It was such a pleasure to be part of your trip Mary. You made the adventure so much fun and I will definitely make positive changes in my life (already have) as a direct result of Ikaria. I absolutely loved the farm visit/cooking demo, winery visit, and the paniyiri was an unforgettable experience. They were experiences I could only have had through a local. I also loved hearing first hand from Thea about Ikarian life and concepts. I hope these talks will stay with me and bring positive change. It is such a special place where the simplicity of life is the key message. I absolutely loved the Ikarian holiday!

-Donna Leigh

Ikaria 2018