One of the questions I encounter often is simply this, “Where do you find your food inspiration?” Four years blogging strong, you’d think I’d be out of inspiration and have found everything I could possible say. However, I’m quickly learning that I’m just getting started.
For me, my creativity in the kitchen started as a young child. I remember spending hours with my grandma and being perched on her kitchen stool. We would make treats for hours. She would always allow me to lick the beaters, my favorite part. I would help my mom and by the age of 9-10, I would make meals with my brother. There were nights where we would set the table for my mom and dad, surprising them with a meal and “restaurant” when they arrived home from work.
Before the days of the Food Network, I would be fascinated by shows like Yan Can Cook. Then there was the show the Essence of Emeril where I guy from New Orleans iconized the word “Bam!” A fews year later, Emeril Live was launched and our whole family would gather around the TV to see food become entertainment. From then on, food became a medium for expression. In college, my roommate and I would plan out menus for friends in our apartment and Friday Night Dinners were born. Before the days of Pinterest, we would plan out menus, drafting recipes on Index cards. Each week had a different theme and seasonal flare. There were Friendsgivings and progressive Christmas dinners. Over the years, my love of food continued to grow. Now we’re in the day and age of Masterclass, Pinterest, and Chef’s Table. I’m surrounded by a community of foodies. It seems that I’m not alone.
With every recipe, starts with a simple idea. As I started the blog four years ago, food was always a place where I could find quick and easy inspiration. With my relocation to California, my recipes and experimentation started with missing tastes of home. My hometown offered a robust award-winning culinary scene, and it was something I desperately missed. I learned and experimented. Recipe testing began by recreating dishes from some of my favorite restaurants. Whether it was a grilled antipasto platter, grilled shrimp tacos with chipotle aioli, or spanish tapas for days, the kitchen became one of my happiest of places.
Many of my favorite blogging columns and food recipes have come a need to solve a problem or wanting to highlight a fresh ingredient. How do I make a dinner party for those on a restricted or elimination diet? How do I serve cocktails for a crowd for under $10? How do I make meals out of what is in my cupboard rather than grocery shopping? How do I cook for one without endless leftovers? How do I recreate a favorite dish from NYC with ingredients available in a smaller city? This is how many columns have been born out of simple questions, knowing my audience might be facing similar challenges.
I find my food inspiration while walking around the shops, in the seasons, and in the local food surrounded me. I’ve found places with fresh pressed olive oil, a monastery with delicious wine, and the most delicious honey from a nearby apiary.
Then as I travel, food destinations are always a highlight. (I’m definitely not a dieter when it comes to find to vacation.) Each meal, becomes an experience. Whether it’s the food trucks in Portland, a fresh coffee shop, or a destination like Napa, I keep a journal and running list of recipes that I can’t wait to create.
I would be dishonest if I didn’t tell you that much of my recipes don’t start at Pinterest. There are so many vast options and basic recipes available. Here I’ll find a recipe and ask myself how I can change it? Are there seasonal variations that feel more interesting? Do I have standard recipes in cookbooks that could be tweaked and revitalized? Here I revisit my journal of food dreams and ideas. Sometimes it’s a seasonal ingredient, feeling inspired walking through the farmers market, and then the testing begins.
As I write recipes, you’ll find me in the kitchen with my iPad typing away. Ingredients are prepped, measured, and a precision of time is calculated. Once the food is prepped and tasted, it’s time for analysis. What would I change? Is it approachable? Could someone read this and replicated it with ease? If so, I progress to the shooting phase. Simply styling food, adding appropriate props and shooting images. Then the recipe is ready to go to you, my amazing audience.
Any recipes you want to see for summer? Anything you want to learn to cook? Or series you’d like to see return?