Kitchen Careers is a regular feature that goes behind-the-scenes with chefs, bloggers, critics and others in the food industry to get the inside scoop on what its like to cook, or eat, for a living.
Feeling unfulfilled working as a writer, Rebecca Crump decided a change was in order. She quit her job, followed her passion, and began work as a head pastry chef at a bakery. After relocating to Nashville, Rebecca began Ezra Pound Cake, her freelance food blog. Her blog’s unique name, Ezra Pound Cake reflects what she calls a “wheel of Fortune-style before and after phrase” that combines her journey as a writer-turned-baker.
Who is your culinary icon?
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock for their book, “The Gift of Southern Cooking.” My grandmother had to stop cooking before I really got started, so I learned how to fry chicken and make a mean biscuit from them. They also taught me the importance of preserving the tradition of cooking authentic Southern food – not the caloric abominations that make the news but food made with pure, seasonal ingredients prepared with love and care.
Why do you love to cook?
It’s fun! There’s always a new recipe to try or a technique to learn, and once you’ve mastered something, you get the joy of teaching it to someone else. When you fall in love with cooking, it’s a lifelong passion. An opportunity to express yourself, your love for others and your creativity multiple times a day, every day.
Cooking also satisfies a spiritual need in me to be part of something bigger than myself. When I cook, I’m part of a chain that links me to my mother, my grandmothers and my great-grandmothers. My mommaw likes to say, “No one leaves this house hungry,” and I live by that motto, too. Feeding people (and animals) can be a magical thing.
What is the best part about being a food blogger?
I really can’t imagine a better life – dreaming up, testing and sharing recipes with people. And I love that it makes me a magnet for people who like to talk about food. I’m a pretty shy, quiet person, so being a food blogger has invited a lot of friends into my life that I might not have met any other way.
Who would you want to battle on Iron Chef?
I like to cook with and for people. Competing really isn’t my thing. I subscribe to the Southern Foodways Alliance’s unofficial motto: “Make cornbread, not war.”
What was your first published recipe?
I originally started my blog so that I could join Tuesdays with Dorie, a group whose members are baking their way through her cookbook, “Baking: From My Home to Yours.” So, the first recipe I posted was for Dorie’s Brioche Raisin Snails. They even impressed my mama, and that is rare.
What is your favorite food city?
I live in Nashville, and it really is my favorite food city. When I moved here almost four years ago, I started a running list of things I wanted to try – the hot chicken at Prince’s, biscuits at The Loveless Café, a rosewater popsicle at Las Paletas, Sunday brunch at Margot, the Bacon Old Fashioned at The Patterson House – and that list has never gotten any shorter. Did I mention Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co.? Plan a trip to Nashville. You won’t leave hungry.
What three PBS personalities would you invite to dinner (animated, muppet, or living)?
I watch Cook’s Country, John Besh (“Chef John Besh’s New Orleans”) and Rick Bayless (“Mexico: One Plate at a Time”) every Saturday, but I’d have to invite the Muppet Band, Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem. Live music keeps a party going, and Animal knows how to party.
When outside the kitchen, how do you spend your time?
You’ll usually find me hanging out with my husband, laughing a lot, doing some freelance writing, spending time with family and letting Henry the Wonderdog nap on me while I read or watch “Doctor Who.”
I also spend a big part of the day replying to e-mails from readers. When I caught a cold earlier this summer, dozens of people wrote me about their home remedies and sent recipes for magical healing things, like biscuits and chocolate gravy. I’m still writing everyone back. Their generosity always amazes me, and I’m lucky to be part of each of their worlds.
What is your favorite under appreciated kitchen tool?
Everyone needs a seasoned cast-iron skillet. It gives you a nonstick finish without the chemical coating, it retains and distributes heat more evenly than other pans, and it can last for generations. Plus, you can cook almost anything in a cast-iron skillet. I roast a three-pound chicken in mine once a week for sandwich meat. And it’s absolutely perfect for making deep-dish pizza. The crust slides right out.
In one tweet (140 characters or less)- what is your culinary style?
Southern, seasonal and made from scratch.
What meal/snack is your guilty pleasure?
Tater tots. If they’re on a menu, I’m powerless to resist them.
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