Meet My Inspiration: The Little Epicurean

Meet My Inspiration: The Little Epicurean

Happy 2015, my friends! :) Hey, has anyone been watching Friends non-stop since EVERY SINGLE EPISODE is now on Netflix? (It's on my TV now as I'm typing away!)

You know, I'm really having so much fun doing this Meet My Inspiration blog series. When I first sent out e-mails to bloggers asking them if they'd be interested to participate, I really didn't know what to expect. After so many had said yes, I just felt really great that they're all very supportive. I've been meeting bloggers, making friends, getting to know the people who I look up to everyday. And most importantly, I'm so glad I'm able to share their stories with you! I have a few more bloggers that I've lined up for the next few weeks, then I'll be slowing down the project and going back to focus on doing more cooking. But we'll talk more of that later on when we're almost there.

Today, I'm ecstatic to be featuring someone who has inspired me to pay more attention to food photography. If you haven't been to her blog The Little Epicurean, you really have been missing out! Being from California, I really do see Maryanne's "sunshine" attitude through her food. Her photography style is bright and crisp, and it just lightens up my mood whenever I look at them. What I think Maryanne and I have in common is that we are both a "feeder" (as she described on her about page) as we both really love to make food and feed the people around us! Maryanne is formally trained in baking and pastry arts at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, CA, as well as The French Pastry School in Chicago, IL. Impressive, eh? She's been turning out amazing breads, cakes, cookies, muffins, tarts, cocktails, and other savory things out of her kitchen, and you should most definitely go feast your eyes! By the way, did I mention that she's one of Better Homes and Gardens Top Ten Baking Blogs along with Joy the Baker, Bake at 350, and Top With Cinnamon? YEA. Beat that!

So thank you, Maryanne, for being such an inspiration! You rock!

Here's my "sit down" with The Little Epicurean! Enjoy :)

1. What or who inspired you to start a food blog?
From an early age I enjoyed baking. Whether it was box-mix muffins or brownies made from scratch, I loved making desserts to share with others. My family is really big on food. We start thinking about what’s for dinner as soon as lunch is over. As I got older, I started experimenting in the kitchen. Eventually friends and family would ask for my recipes. After reading other people’s food blogs, I was inspired to start my own so I could share my recipes and stories with others.

2. What was the first post/recipe that you published on The Little Epicurean? (Try not to peek!)
I clearly remember the my first post on The Little Epicurean. I made banana chocolate chip muffins. At the time, I had no idea what I was doing. I barely knew how upload and resize my photos. Clearly, I was lost because I didn’t even include a recipe for the muffins! That post is still on my blog. I look at it every once in a while for a good laugh, but also to see how far I’ve come.

3. If you have to pick 3 words to describe your blog, what would they be?
Sweet, boozy, and sentimental.

4. Your blog and photography is absolutely stunning! I understand that you're a self-taught photographer, care to share some tips with us? Or equipment that you use on a daily basis?
Thank you so much! Asides from what I learned in photography workshop I took with Diane Cu and Todd Porter in 2013, most of my photography knowledge came from trial and error.

My best camera tip- love the camera you have. Learn everything there is to know about that camera and it will be good to you. I believe that the best camera is the one you have. My first dslr was a Canon Rebel T1i. During the four years I had it, I learned every feature on that camera. I recently upgraded to a Canon 5D mark iii, but I still love my Rebel. I take it with me whenever I travel.

Second tip- learn to shoot in manual mode. I have the hardest time reading textbooks about photography. I learn by doing so I take picture everyday (even if it’s just on phone) to understand more about lighting, shutter speed, aperture, etc. If you have shaky hands become best friend with a tripod. Tripods make photos super clean and crisp.

5. Being trained in the culinary arts that focuses on baking and pastry, what are some of your favorite sweet things to make?
I can’t just choose one! I love making everything! Croissants, eclairs, ice cream, cakes, everything with chocolate! One thing I HATE making- anything that requires use of a water bath in the oven.

6. How's LA been treating ya? Have you always lived there or did moved there from somewhere else?
I’ve been born and raised in Southern California! I grew up in the suburbs and moved to LA for college. Asides from brief stints in Napa and Chicago, Los Angeles will always be my home.

7. I LOVE seeing all kinds of stuff that turned out from your kitchen just by looking at your recipe index! Any style of cooking you enjoy the most other than baking?
I am fascinated with cocktails and mixed drinks. The science behind trying to balance all the different flavors in a well composed cocktail makes my brain tingle. I love the challenge of taking a flavor (like vodka) that is usually offensive on its own and adding other components to make it delicious and alluring.

8. Let's talk about your Portfolio. It's SUPER IMPRESSIVE. Have you done any professional work as a food photographer? (If so, what kind of work were they? If not, there's no way!)
Thank you! I really appreciate it! Yes, I’ve done some professional food photography work for magazines in Europe. It’s a dream job being able to style and photograph food. I’m crossing my fingers that 2015 will be the year my photographs make their way to American print and magazines!

9. What's the most challenging thing about being a food blogger?
Where should I start?! It’s really difficult having to explain to non-bloggers the amount of time and dedication it takes to maintaining a food blog. Asides from testing recipes, photographing during daylight hours, and writing posts, it takes a lot of work to stay active in the blogging community. As much as TLE seems like a personal endeavor, food blogging is all about building and supporting a network of other food bloggers. TLE would be nothing without the promotion and encouragement of my other fellow food bloggers.

10. We'll end with some food blogging love. Any blogs or bloggers who you admire yourself?
Every day I fall in love with new blogs. I love that the blogging community continues to grow and expand - it’s a never-ending source of inspiration. I could go on and on about all the bloggers I admire. My favorite food blogger is Joy the Baker. I love her recipes and I can’t get enough of her stories! She makes me smile, laugh, and hungry all at the same time. Three other bloggers off the top of my head: Sarah of Snixy Kitchen, Elizabeth of Sugar Hero, and Ellen of In My Red Kitchen. Sarah has beautiful photographs and delicious gluten-free recipes that inspire me to keep learning and bettering my blog. Elizabeth is one of the most creative dessert bloggers ever! I’m always in awe of the crazy things she makes with sugar. Ellen runs two separate food blogs - one in English and another in Dutch. I love reading about her experiences in California since moving from the Netherlands. She shares recipes from all over the world on her blog.

(Photo Credit: The Little Epicurean – Mini Peanut Butter Pretzel Cheesecake)