Finding new people to squeal over food with. Learning lots from the people who are really good at what they do. Finding more about writing for publications. Taking photos of everything. Trying out my new MOO.COM business cards. Eating.
What motivated you to blog about food and how has food blogging changed your life?
I missed writing, a lot. My university degree was in Astrophysics (not much in the form of words..) and I had last written prose during my English A-level. I like recording things and I love photography. I used to share photos of the food I cooked on an ad hoc basis on social media and friends were encouraging me to start a blog. And so one cold day in October, I decided there and then it was going to happen. That evening consisted of my boyfriend Matt spending hours designing a logo and setting up the blog while I feverishly thrashed out a number of posts ready to publish as soon as the site was launched. I did it mostly for myself – it’s intended to be a personal anthology charting the food I cook, the food I eat, and the impressions they make upon me. It’s provided me with a creative outlet, a way to voice my dining out experiences, to share my favourite recipes, and engage with like minded people. I find it a hugely cathartic and pleasurable experience. Publishing (what I hope are) well written posts of my thoughts along with pretty photography is very rewarding. I get a sense of ‘I did that’. And if other people get pleasure from it too, then all the better.
Do you blog full time or, if not, what’s your day job? What does your family/partner think of your blog?
My day job is within a large software company dealing with some of our key clients. I enjoy it and the people I work with are fantastic, but it’s not where my heart lies. I will blog a review when I’ve dined somewhere I would recommend, and I blog recipes and the process of cooking them along with tips along the way. My family are proud of The Cutlery Chronicles and frequently share the link with people they know – it all helps with the hits! My partner has been nothing but supportive of my endeavours and designed the whole thing from scratch. He has a rather tongue-in-cheek quote on my ‘People’ page – “I’m a better cook than Leyla but I prefer eating my food instead of taking pictures of it while it goes cold.” There may be some truth in that.
What are your future aspirations for the blog? From where do you get inspiration and who taught you to cook?
My love of cuisine stems from a childhood heavily featuring food based family gatherings, fresh ingredients, spectacular meals and wonderful memories. Having been brought up surrounded by exceptional cooking from my Mauritian mother and Turkish Cypriot father, appreciating the huge range of wonderful flavours available in the culinary world is something I actively seek out and happily partake in on a daily basis. My mother spent some years living in Naples and so her repertoire covers Mauritian and Italian, while my father is an expert when it comes to the Mediterranean flavours of Turkey. I’m lucky enough to be embarking on six months of travelling in April 2014 where I will be eating and writing my way through Japan, Honk Kong, Taipei, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, New Zealand and South India. The blog will be my outlet for sharing the incredible culinary delights I am hoping to experience. I would also love the opportunity to be able contribute to food and travel publications while I’m out
Which other food bloggers do you follow most closely? Tell us something you learned from reading blogs you probably wouldn’t know otherwise?
Cookieandkate for original wholesome healthy vegetarian recipe ideas – it’s good to abstain from meat once in a while. The Critical Couple have some of the most commendable eating out marathons I’ve seen. If these guys haven’t dined there and reviewed it, the venue was probably a figment of your imagination. Anthony Bourdain’s Travel Blog, because he doesn’t mince his words and through his TV show is getting to eat his way around the world – not that I’m jealous. I also really enjoyed his No Reservations book, particularly the chapter describing the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo – a must visit when I’m there.
What’s your favourite/least favourite food? What’s been your ultimate meal to date? And What would your last meal be?
The only flavour in the world I cannot endure is that of aniseed. Hints of it I can just about bear perhaps in some well cooked fennel, but just a whif of liquorice and I feel my throat closing as it activates defensive measures. I really love lemons. My desktop background at work states ‘lemons are good’ – a fact, not an opinion. One of my favourite tastes is that of sour, so I usually manage to get quite a bit of lemon into my dishes. Possibly more than most people can handle. If it makes my lips pucker, I’m going to like it. By the same reasoning, my favourite cocktail is a pisco or whisky sour One of the best meals I’ve had to date was eating a true Neapolitan pizza in Naples. My mum lived in Naples for a while in her younger years, and warned me I would never encounter pizza like it anywhere else – she wasn’t kidding. Who knew four components (thin base, mozzarella, tomato sauce, basil) made so fresh and executed so well could yield so much pleasure. It was almost other worldly.
How many cookbooks do you own? Who is your favourite celebrity chef and and who is your favourite food writer? Why?
I probably don’t have as many cookbooks as some (space may be an issue here, as well as the accessibility of the internet). However, Nigel Slater lends a purity and simplicity to his dishes that few other people manage and I really enjoy his style of writing. I’m also quite in love with the chemistry and obvious close friendship between Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo on Two Greedy Italians – one of the best food shows of recent years in my opinion, so I frequently leaf through their Italian offerings.
What’s your signature dish? If you want us to feature your favourite recipe from your own blog, include the link here!
Halloumi pasta with lemon and mint. This dish is one from my childhood – one of those where I’d get overly animated when I knew it was on the menu for dinner. I’ve carried it through to adulthood, frequently returning to it and sharing it with friends who have almost unanimously fallen for it at first taste. It’s one of the simplest meals in my repertoire consisting of a mere six ingredients, yet yields one of the biggest pleasure bounties. Combining flavours of both fresh and dried mint, chicken stock and lemon juice with the saltiness of the cheese, the result is a plate of pure satiety.
Do you have a favourite kitchen tool/appliance? What’s the hottest item on your shopping list? (can be current foodie favourite or a desired gadget/book etc)
A good wok. I use a wok for almost all my hob cooking, for all sorts of cuisines. They hold a great amount of volume with a large surface area to distribute the heat evenly – don’t just use them for oriental cooking! It’s also worth investing in a food processor – I use mine every few days just for making houmous or mincing turkey breasts for burgers alone. It speeds up a whole host of other kitchen jobs too.
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