This week I conducted an email interview with food blogger Heather Christo of HeatherChristoCooks.com. Christo is a popular online food blogger, as well as published author. Just this week she released her first cookbook “The Generous Table: Sharing the Love of Food with Friends and Family”. According to her bio, after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, Christo worked as a pastry chef at a famous French restaurant in San Francisco. Then after working many years in the restaurant industry including starting her own catering company in Seattle, Washington, Christo decided start a blog.
I was so honored to do this email interview because she is not only a well know food-writer but also one of my favorites bloggers. I began reading Heather’s blog a few years back and was inspired by her creativity and easy recipes. The first recipe I tried from her blog were her delicious pumpkin pancakes and ever since, I have been a loyal follower and reader.
Q: Can you explain your background with food?
Christo: I was raised in a household with constant parties and cooking. My mom was a stay at home mom of four who happened to have spent time at cooking school in Paris. She was an amazing cook and we had elaborate meals just about every single night growing up. She also knew how to throw the most wonderful parties and to raise her own fruits and vegetables which we would then eat. I learned so much from her in my childhood kitchen and garden and eventually found my own way to culinary school to pursue my love of food and cooking and turn into a career.
Q: Why did you choose to start your blog, and become a food writer?
Christo: After working in restaurants and as a caterer, I hung up my togs to start a family. I knew that I wanted to continue to cook and eat and share the love I have for cooking and food. My husband was the one that talked me into starting a blog. That was in 2007. I kind of dabbled in it for a few years while I was busy having babies and learning how to be a new mom. After the birth of my second daughter in 2010 I really dove in and started blogging with a renewed zest. I loved how the blog had turned into a kind of scrap book. I always say now that my blog is an on-going love letter to my children. They will be able to trace their entire childhood through the food that we ate. When I wrote my first book in 2012 I realized how much I loved the process of telling a story to go with each recipe. That is where part of the magic happens in my opinion. What is the recipe without the reason for it’s existence!?
Question: Where do you get the inspiration for your recipes?
Christo: Everywhere. The garden, my children, friends, family, going out to eat, looking at pictures of food, traveling- absolutely everywhere. Fresh inspiration is so important, so I try to fuel myself every once in a while with “sure things” like a farmers market or a new restaurant I have been dying to try.
Question: What is the most important lesson you have learned being in the food industry and as a food writer?
Christo: Persistence, resilience and Hard work. I suppose that those probably apply to what ever you want to do in life! But I completely subscribe to finding what you want to do and attacking it. Really striving to be the very best you can be. My mom always used to say to me “do it right, or don’t bother to do it at all.” I think about that often.
Question: What is the hardest challenge of maintaining your website and blog?
Christo: Time!! I have so many projects going on right now, plus a large bustling family. I think you just have to COMMIT, COMMIT, COMMIT!! I have a friend, Ree Drummond, who is an NYT best selling author who gave me very good advice: “Writing is a muscle like any other. You have to work it out every day if you want it to work well.” And true enough, the more I write (every day) the easier it gets. The more recipe’s I create, the more easily ideas flow. It is comforting actually to know that it works that way.
Question: Can you describe the experience of writing your own cookbook and becoming a published author?
Christo: Difficult. I am very proud that I did it, but my experience was very much a learning process. Writing is such a personal experience, and for me it was a challenge to open up my writing, recipes, photography and ideas to a team of people for critique. Us artists can be sensitive! So it was about understanding that while my name is on the book, any time you are working with a publisher that there is a certain amount of compromise. I think it will be easier this next time as I now understand the process and what to expect.
Question: What’s your best piece for future food writers?
Christo: Work Hard and connect with as many people as you can. I think that it is actually a very small community, and in my experience it has been a very warm and supportive one. People as obsessed with food and cooking as most of us are are a special kind of person, best understood by like minded people! I would also give you a cliche but sage piece of advice. What you put in, you will get out.