In 1993, Jennifer Chandler surprised friends and family when she announced that she was giving up a career in International Finance to move to Paris and learn to cook. She enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, took a crash course in French and one year later graduated at the top of her class.
After what she calls a “life-changing year” in Paris, Jennifer did a stint with a Washington, D.C. restaurant group as well as working in the pastry shop at an East Coast caterer.
She then moved back home to Memphis, Tenn., became the owner of a prepared foods and bakery market called Cheffie’s Market and More. Voted best new restaurant in Memphis, Cheffie’s earned acclaim and awards. But with the birth of her second child, she decided to move her career in a more family-friendly direction, and became a food writer.
Jennifer has written for several magazines, been a contributing food columnist for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, and is the author of two cookbooks, Simply Salads and Simply Suppers.
She began writing her popular food blog CookingwithJennifer.com less than a year ago, in January, 2010. She’s a married mom with “two little girls and one very old black lab.”
We had the opportunity to pose a few questions to Jennifer for our Food Channel Interview.
How did you get started blogging? As a cookbook author and freelance food writer, I love writing about food. I always joke that I am very lucky to be able to play with food for a living. I decided to start what I call my “recipe blog” to be able to share some of my favorite dishes without the limitations of an assigned topic. Now when I cook something or discover a new favorite recipe, I can share it with my readers immediately rather than waiting for a distant publication date or an assignment. Instead of “work,” my blog is my fun time to share recipes!
Blogging, as well as my Cook with Jennifer Facebook and Twitter pages, also allows me to interact with my readers. I love when folks make comments, ask questions and share their recipes.
Is blogging your “day job”? My day job is writing cookbooks and food stories for various magazines. I blog for fun.
Why blog about food? Is there anything more interesting than the topic of good eats?! Seriously though, I love to eat … and have been luckily enough to make a living off something I enjoy.
What makes your blog different from other food blogs? My blog is all about putting good food on the table simply. I share some of my favorite recipes and cooking adventures. My hope is that my readers will discover how simple it can be to put a delicious, home-cooked meal on the table.
Who does your photography? Most of the photography is done by me! In addition to being a food writer, I am also a food stylist. All the food in the photos on my blog has been prepared by me, in my home kitchen, using 100% real food. I think it’s important to use real food (no gimmicks) so my readers (both of my blog and my cookbooks) can feel confident in knowing that whey can make the dish not only taste as great … but also look as great as the picture. My blog is where I play around with food photography … trying to put to use all the tips I have learned from the many photographers with whom I have had the honor of working.
What’s your favorite part of your blog? (The most fun for you?) Being able to share personal stories and thoughts about a dish. Many times when I am writing for magazines, I have to write in third person. My blog allows me to tell my story.
Any hobbies you enjoy when not cooking or writing about it? I love spending time with my friends and family. Some times the most simple times are the most special. I also enjoy spinning, pilates and yoga.
Have a favorite dish? That’s a hard one! I probably have to admit though that my favorite food is chocolate. The richer and darker the better!
What would you bring to a pot luck? I’d probably bring my Baked Rigatoni with Sausage Meatballs & Spinach (in my book Simply Suppers) or my Chinese Chicken Salad with a yummy Peanut Butter Dressing (in my book Simply Salads). Both are tasty and travel well.
Any chefs or cooks you especially admire? Hands down, Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa). Love her books and her show. I have never made a recipe of hers that wasn’t simple and delicious.
Favorite Web sites? One of my favorite foodie web sites is Food 52. There are always great recipes posted! So many talented and creative chefs participating in that site. I also like product sites like www.Frenchs.com. I can look in my fridge and see what staples on hand and turn to sites like French’s to find quick and easy week-night meals.
Can you share a couple of your recipe favorites with our readers? Sure! Here are the two recipes I mentioned above for potlucks (See “Related Recipes” below.)