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.
Shaina Olmanson writes Food for My Family, a blog where she shares recipes that her family enjoys, as well as tips for time management, menu planning, ways to get the kids involved, kitchen tips and kitchen organization.
Shaina is a daily contributor to Babble.com’s Family Kitchen Blog and the editor of the food channel for Lifetime Moms, a digital property from Lifetime and A&E Television Networks. She contributes regularly to Cascadian Farm’s blog, Simple Bites, and Food Your Way.
Who is your culinary icon?
I don’t know that I have one single culinary icon. There are so many people I respect in the food industry for different reasons, from effecting change to being a role model for children to being creative and masterful at the art of cooking. It’s hard to narrow down the list to just one person or even a top five.
Why do you love to cook?
I started cooking on my own when I was 7 years old. I remember being fascinated by the things my grandmother would create in her kitchen and feeling the need to try to recreate them in mine. My mom, who does not enjoy cooking, was baffled that my idea of a good time was making a full family dinner.
What is the best part about being a food blogger?
Food blogging and food writing is actually my full-time job at this point. I officially quit my day job one year ago this past August to focus solely on this, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s taking something I am passionate about and making it what gets me out of bed in the morning…unless the kids wake up first. Then they’re the ones getting me out of bed.
Who would you want to battle on Iron Chef?
That’s rather intimidating to think about. I am a huge Morimoto fan, and I loved when Mario Batali was on. Really, though, I’d just want to be a judge and get to try all the dishes.
What was your first published recipe?
The very first recipe I published on my blog is a carrot cake that I make for my husband’s birthday. He’s really picky about having chunks of pineapple and plenty of raisins in his carrot cake, so I was determined to find the recipe that got his seal of approval.
What is your favorite food city?
More of a region than a city, I have had some of my favorite meals in wine country in California from breakfast in Calistoga to sushi in Santa Rosa to my favorite cheese factory on the way out of town.
What three PBS personalities would you invite to dinner?
Bob Ross is high on my list. I’ve always wanted to learn how to paint, and perhaps we can swap dinner and dessert for a few brush stroke and blending lessons.
Fred Rogers woke me up every morning when I was a kid, and it’d be an honor to have him visit my neighborhood.
Julia Child is the obvious pick here, and I love how she encouraged everyone to cook at home. Today’s world needs a Julia Child to get them fired up about cooking instead of driving through the burger joint window.
What meal/snack is your guilty pleasure?
Sushi. We avoid eating out, but when we do, you can bet I’ll suggest a sushi restaurant. It’s the one thing that I find harder to do at home, especially living in the Midwest where sourcing sustainable sushi-grade fish can be difficult.
What is your favorite underappreciated kitchen tool?
My immersion blender has been seeing a lot of action lately. I use it in soups or sauces, but I have also been making my own mayonnaise in the cup that it came with. It literally takes 60 seconds, and I can adjust the flavor to whatever I want. We just recently made a sriracha mayo that we put on burgers and then used leftovers in deviled eggs.
In one tweet (140 characters or less)- what is your culinary style?
I cook family feasible food, both dressed up & dressed down, with whole, unprocessed ingredients and plenty of love & little helping hands.
When outside the kitchen, how do you spend your time?
I enjoy family bike rides to parks and trips to museums and zoos with the kids. Once I’ve accomplished all of that and the responsibilities of being a home owner, gardener and mom of four, I spend far too little time reading. I so enjoy a good book to get lost in, listening to live music and entertaining dinner guests.
What is your advice for amateur cooks?
You have to start somewhere, even if it’s with boiling a simple pot of water to make buttered noodles in. Read recipes, watch cooking shows and just jump in and try. Quality, fresh ingredients make a huge difference in taste, and people will be less forgiving if you overcooked the spaghetti if you serve it with a gorgeous salad and perfectly crusty bread, especially if the people you’re serving are married to you, related to you or happen to just be you.
Is there a person in the food industry or a type of “Kitchen Careers” that you would like to know more about? Add your suggestions in the comment section!