Today’s interview is a very interesting one. It comes all the way from southeast Ohio and is brought to us by Amanda of The Chunky Chef.
Years ago, after Amanda began learning how to cook in earnest, friends and family encouraged her to launch a website that discusses what she does in the kitchen. Today, she’s a true up-and-comer with some of her recipe posts receiving more than a quarter million social shares. Just the thought of that kind of popularity makes my jaw hit the ground. Although Amanda’s blog is just over a year old, it’s certainly carved a space for itself among some of the best. Her photography is extraordinarily well presented and her recipes are perfectly crafted and easily understood. If you haven’t already, I suggest you visit The Chunky Chef to follow Amanda as she continues along her journey.
1. Can you please tell our readers a bit about yourself?
I’m just your average wife and mother, who happens to LOVE to cook. 🙂 However, I’m also a passionate reader, movie lover, sports fan, and am certainly no stranger to standing out in a crowd, as I’m 6ft 4in tall. Nope, not joking about that. 🙂
2. Where do you call home?
I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, and continue to live in the Southeast corner of Ohio.
3. Do you remember the very first time you discovered that you had a love for cooking? If so, can you describe it for us?
I do! Growing up, I had zero inclination to learn to cook. Why? I have no idea. When I moved in with my boyfriend, now my husband, I quickly realized that I needed to learn…and fast! I started watching The Food Network and gave a recipe a try. To my surprise, I had a blast! I loved the way the raw ingredients turned into an amazingly delicious meal.
4. How long have you been writing about your experiences with food and cooking on your website?
I started my blog back at the very end of October 2014, so about 15 months or so.
5. How did you go about learning to cook? Are you self taught or formally taught?
Definitely self-taught. I’d LOVE to attend culinary school someday, maybe once my kids are grown. 🙂 I learned by a lot of trial and error. In the beginning, mostly error lol. As with most things, I jumped into it with both feet and just immersed myself in learning as much as I could.
6. What is your favorite part of being a practicing home cook?
My absolute favorite part is when I can provide my family with a great gourmet meal that they all enjoy. A very close second though, is when my 6 year old daughter wants to get in the kitchen and help me cook. Those memories are precious!
7. What is your favorite part of sharing what you do in the kitchen with your blogging audience? (the story behind the recipe or the recipe itself?)
I like a little bit of both. Obviously what people come for is the recipe…but I like to throw in some personality with it as well. Blogs are personal, and I love being able to share a family story or funny kitchen fail (like the time I literally set my grill pan on fire…no joke) lol.
8. What do you think is the most challenging aspect of what you do, both in the kitchen and on your blog?
Time. Time is something I’m constantly running up against these days. Being a stay at home Mom, you’d think I would have all sorts of time to work on recipe development and blogging work, but ohhhhh it’s quite the opposite. I wake up hours before my kids, work feverishly through their nap (if they decide to take one), and work many hours past their bedtime just to get in a full days work. And that’s on top of the regular day to day childcare, cleaning, laundry, etc. Let’s just say I’m best friends with my coffee maker. 😉
9. Have you found that readers appreciate your perspective on the recipes you share on your website? Has sharing them been personally rewarding?
Oh definitely. I absolutely LOVE when a reader comes back to leave a thoughtful comment about how they loved my recipe, or that they made a recipe for a dinner with company and everyone enjoyed it. Those comments…they quite literally make my day. I’m beaming from ear to ear when I read those!
10. How did you originally come up with the idea that you might be able to create a following by writing about your recipes?
Honestly, I didn’t lol. I’d been a food blog lover for a while, but never thought in a million years that I could do something like that. Then one day my Dad suggested I start one, and a few other family members chimed in and agreed, so I figured I would give it a shot. I’m forever grateful to them for encouraging me to start something that has definitely developed into a passion. 🙂
11. To date, which of your recipes has been the most popular?
Overall my Vanilla Cinnamon Buttermilk Pancakes are the most popular, having over 260,000 social shares since the beginning of June of 2015. But my Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana is looking like the new front runner, massing over 225,000 social shares since the end of September 2015.
12. What’s your favorite aspect of cooking?
I really love the actual cooking, where you taste as you go, adjust, and get creative. But I’m also a prep lover…chopping things is soothing to me, but maybe I’m just weird lol.
13. What is it that keeps you motivated to stay cooking and blogging?
I think anyone who’s been blogging for a while hits a rut now and then, but for me, whenever I start to get bogged down in the logistics of it all, I get one of those amazing comments from a reader and it just reminds me that what I’m doing is inspiring people, getting people into the kitchen, and encouraging them to fall in love with cooking…and that definitely fuels my fire. 🙂
14. If someone asked you how they could get more involved with cooking, would you be able to offer some words of wisdom? If so, what would they be?
I would say to just jump in there. Get in the kitchen, get your hands dirty. Who cares if you try something and it doesn’t turn out…you won’t starve. 🙂 Think about your favorite foods and try to recreate those at home. Trust me, if I can do it, so can you!
15. Do you have any favorite food related websites that you just love to visit regularly? If so, which ones?
16. Where do you hope to go from here? Is there anything in the food world that you’d still like to get involved with?
Eventually, I want to move into also working on creating e-cookbooks, or possibly a print cookbook. I also would love to do some freelance food photography!
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