Jennifer Bartoli grew up in Paris, France and has been cooking for as long as she could hold a spoon. After graduating from McGill University, she decided to fully commit herself to her longstanding passion for food and moved to New York to study at the French Culinary Institute. She is now works as a food stylist and writer and can most often be found browsing piles of cookbooks while thinking of what dish she wants to try in the kitchen next.
What inspired you to first start writing your blog?
I’ve always loved to cook. When I was in high school, I spent countless weekend afternoons making up baking recipes in my family kitchen in Paris, France. That passion followed me to college, which was when I decided to start writing a blog. It was, at first, just an easy way to write down the recipes I was making and have a record of my favorite dishes. It quickly turned into a full-fledged passion and it has now transformed into a career. A few months after stating the blog I went to culinary school in NYC (you can read posts from that time on my blog) and have been working as a food writer, recipe developer and food stylist ever since!
Where do most of your recipes come from?
I’ve been working as a recipe developer for a few years now, so most of the recipes I feature on my blog are recipes I have come up with and tested. I also post recipes from cookbooks or food magazines that I’ve tried and loved and want to share with my readers. I’m a little bit of a cookbook junkie!
Do you plan a weekly menu? If so, what inspires your menu?
I think that menus are a good idea, but they can also be a little rigid and make your weekly cooking difficult. You may have planned for a delicious chicken piccata and lemon spaghetti for Wednesday night but then feel like a simple poached egg and spinach salad, or unexpectedly decide to go out for food or have friends over. To solve that issue, I try to make sure I always have a few meals that I can make straight from my pantry and to only really plan for 2-3 fixed meals a week. I’m also a big fan of making meals in big quantities and freezing them in portion-sized bags to have later (soup with seasonal veggies, mushroom lasagna, meatballs) so you always have a homemade meal that’s ready to use if you don’t have time to make a hearty meal.
When I go grocery shopping, my main goal is to buy seasonal fruits and vegetables and choose the freshest fish or meat and build meals around those.
What is your favorite recipe posted on your blog?
I don’t know if I have an all-time favorite, but one of my current favorites has to be my recipe for Gooey Butter Tarts (a Canadian staple). It’s the perfect sweet bite!
Any suggestions or hints to have great food photos?
I think the key to good food photos it to try and recreate a scene around the dish so that you give the ambiance of a meal and not just a photo of food. You obviously can’t smell or taste the food pictured in a photograph so you have to do as much as you can to make the meal come alive. That’s why food props are so important!
What kind of food did you eat growing up? Do you cook the same kinds of things today?
I grew up in Paris, France and my whole family lives there. I grew up eating fresh baguette every day, crepes on Saturday mornings, and mostly really fresh, local food. Traditional meals were beef carpaccio with Parmesan shavings, rustic roasts and potato gratin, crisp vegetable sides (my favorite is haricots verts with olive oil and fleur de sel!) and hearty salads. This is still the kind of food I love to make.
When you really want to cheat, what do you eat?
Nutella! And a spoon is not always needed!
If you could travel anywhere in the world – just for the food – where would you go?
I’m dreaming of going to Japan. I would love to experience authentic Japanese cuisine. I love oyakodon, zaru soba (cold buckwheat noodles) and using miso in fish dishes.
I would also love to learn how to make noodles from scratch. I’ve seen them being made before and it’s such an incredible art!
What is your best tip for saving money on groceries?
My number one tip is not to go to the grocery store when you’re hungry! If you are, you are sure to end up stacking up on things you don’t need. My next tip is to take a look at what’s in season and local (it tends to be cheaper – and also much better!).
A huge thanks to Jennifer for joining us today! Here is where you can find her and her beautiful photography and delicious recipes!