After cooking and eating her way through the entire Momofuku cookbook (and blogging about her journey too), Stephanie Le grew a firm love for food and different flavours. During meals out, she was adamant that she could make the dishes herself and eventually rose to the challenge put to her by her husband, Mike.
I Am a Food Blog was born and Stephanie set out to share her passion for cooking by creating delicious recipes inspired by her favourite restaurants, takeout meals and the contents of her fridge. We sat down with the food blogger to hear about her biggest cooking disasters and where she gets the inspiration for her incredible dishes (think fish fillet and chips, burgers and peach pistachio caramel crumble)…
Firstly, what made you decide to start your blog?
I've always been interested in food, photography and writing. I Am a Food Blog was a place were I could put everything in one spot.
What’s your favourite aspect of blogging and are there any downsides?
The eating, the creating, the photography and most of all, the community! There are downsides to everything, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.
The layout of your site really stands out from other food blogs! How long did it take you to decide on the design of your blog?
I Am a Food Blog was designed by my husband, Mike. I wanted a huge emphasis on the food and photography so the design stemmed from that. I've gone through several redesigns now and I'm really happy with the clean, minimalist feel.
How do you balance blogging with other interests or jobs? Do you ever go offline?
Yes! I do spend a lot of time online, but of course, the upside of freelancing (I do digital illustration as well) is that you have the opportunity to take time off when you feel necessary. I love travelling so that's a big part of my life - last year we spent three months in Japan - it was awesome!
What is your personal food philosophy? Are there any food groups/types that you avoid?
Fun, fresh, tasty. I don't avoid much, I tend to try everything at least once!
How do you create new recipes? Is it a trial and error process?
New recipes usually come about in one of two ways: either I have a very specific dish in mind or I'm winging it. Either way, there's plenty of trial and error, experimentation, tasting and testing.
Have you had any cooking disasters?
Lots! The most recent was a no-knead brioche loaf. I'd never made a no-knead brioche before (although I have made no-knead bread and brioche, separately) and I decided I wanted to flavour the loaf and run a swirl through it. Long story short, my yeast was dead, the add-ins were not proportional and I had a very dense, very unattractive loaf at the end of my two day no-knead journey. I haven't visited it since, but now that I'm thinking about it, I definitely need to give it another go!
How do you decide which recipes to feature on your blog?
All the recipes featured on the blog are ones that I feel are do-able and tasty. I like creating recipes that are fun, playful and have that "Aha! why didn't I think of that!" feeling.
What do you hope people will take away from your blog?
Cooking is fun! It doesn't have to be fancy or snobby, it just has to taste good. And the thing is, what tastes good to one person doesn't necessarily taste good to the person next to them, so it's perfectly acceptable to experiment. I'm hoping people will want to get in the kitchen and be inspired to give it a go.
What are your three favourite recipes?
Ooh, that's a tough one... off the top of my head: Vietnamese spring rolls , bacon yakimochi and mini Scotch quail eggs . Really though, I love anything with eggs!
If you kept a food diary, what would a typical day look like?
Every day starts with coffee but other than that I don't really have any consistency. During the day I usually eat whatever recipe I'm working on and for dinner Mike and I will decide on whatever sounds good to us - sometimes it's Vietnamese food, sometimes it's pizza, but mostly it's something fast and easy that I can throw together quickly.
Which ten ingredients do you use most often?
Salt, pepper, eggs, green onions, oil, cheese, citrus, garlic, cilantro and shallots.
What five things are always in your fridge?
Eggs, butter, sriracha, green onions and cheese.
Which three kitchen appliances could you not live without?
I'm going to be obtuse and say my stove, oven and fridge ;) Seriously though, I don't use many small appliances. Utensils wise, I'd say I could not live without my favourite knife, a spatula and a cast iron pan.
Where do you get your cooking inspiration from?
This varies – sometimes I just go to the market and wander around until inspiration strikes, sometimes I look in the fridge and create something from all the random produce I have, sometimes I'll be inspired by a dish at a restaurant. Of course there are a ton of food blogs that do inspiring things! But, mostly, I'll have long rambling conversations with Mike (who's very patient and doesn't mind my constant food ramblings).
Which recipe was the hardest to get right?
I'm still working on it actually - I'm trying to perfect a tonkotsu ramen broth. Ramen broth takes a while to develop flavours so it's definitely one of my more time consuming endeavours!
Who are your favourite bloggers?
There are so many awesome bloggers out there doing fantastic things - I couldn't possibly name them all. The creativity and talent of the food blogging world boggles my mind! Plus, they're a super friendly bunch. I just love the community.
What does the future hold for your blog? Are there any exciting developments in the pipeline?
I have a cookbook that's going to be released on September 2nd. It's available for preorder here and I'm super excited about it. It's full of fun, easy recipes that make you want to get into the kitchen and get cooking!