I’m so excited about writing this week’s interview because she’s such a special person to me. I doubt she knows the impact she makes on new food writers/bloggers but it’s really profound.
Sometimes, just following a new blogger on Twitter or making a comment on a new post is really more than we have time for with our busy lives, but that’s where Jamie shines. She takes that extra step to make new people feel welcome. She did it for me and I know I’m nothing special, so I suspect she does it for lots of new writers.
Jamie learned to cook by necessity as cooking was not one of the things her mother enjoyed. I think the word woeful was used in regard to her mother’s meals. As soon as she was tall enough to reach the countertop she began her journey to the cooking mastery she has achieved.
She learned a lot from her older brother as well as her husband who are both adventurous and talented cooks.
Then… it’s time to get all envious over this one — she worked as a translator in Paris at a professional cooking school for 4 years. Just thinking about that gets me all goosebumpy. Wouldn’t that be a fantastic way to learn to cook AND get paid for it?
In 2008 her husband and her son asked her to start a food blog and did all the background work to set up Life’s a Feast for her. She’s pretty sure they just wanted her to have someone else to listen to all her food stories, but I suspect they thought her food was so good it should be shared.
If you aren’t familiar with Jamie’s writing, please take a few minutes to click on the link to her blog and read a few posts. You’ll find a lot more than “here’s my recipe.” I love her photos of France, her funny photos to go along with her writing and then there’s that amazing food.
About a year after her blog began, she realized that writing about food gave her more pleasure than anything else had. She discovered she has a real talent for writing and that cooking was a prelude to writing about it. Writing is her real passion and food is her love.
My blog has evolved somewhat and I spend a huge amount of time writing and working to improve my writing as well as my knowledge of food and the cultures that interest me.
Jamie works very hard doing what she loves — following her passion: her blog, creating Food Blogger Connect with 2 other bloggers, creating From Plate to Page workshop with 3 very talented bloggers, teaching and speaking about food writing as well as being asked to lead workshops and to speak on both writing and food & culture at conferences around the world. All this work has certainly led to her increased visibility and people both inside and outside the blogging world are reading her words and getting to know her writing.
Even the Huffington Post thought she had a lot to say about food and asked her to write for them. She’s now known as a professional food writer, having moved up from food blogger. She’s begun submitting articles to food magazines and publications, that means she’s being judged by a very tough crowd and is doing very well.
She’s also a regular recipe contributor to The Rambling Epicure, De Glazen Vork, Gospel Roads Magazine as well as presenting at workshops and events around the world.
Jamie’s multi-cultural home and her kitchen are the source and inspiration for her recipes and her writing. She’s also the co-creator of From Plate to Page with Meeta from What’s For Lunch, Honey, Jeanne of Cook Sister! and Ilva of Lucullian Delights. They provide food photography and food writing workshops for people like me who need all the help they can get.
The Space Coast of Florida is where her life began but she’s lived in France for 25 years with a small stint in Milan for 7 years. She’s married to a Frenchman and they have two sons. It’s funny, I moved to Australia to live with my Aussie from very close to the space coast in Florida. Foreign men may be stalking the area.
Before you think our friend Jamie is close to perfect, she hasn’t always loved everything on her plate. She was 26 before she had her first oyster in Paris and it took a few before she learned to love them.
Both Jamie and her dashing Frenchman both work from home so she must juggle cooking, styling, photo work and writing with caring for her family who think she’s always available. I no longer have children at home but I know how it is when you work from home, people think you’re available all the time because “you’re at home.” Jamie says she has a real problem pulling away when she’s really into what she’s doing and I can relate to that. She admits to being less than organized so squeezing in her writing time can be difficult.
Her food heroes are Ruth Reichl and Molly O’Neill, two women driven by a passion for food and of course Julia Child, who like Jamie started her food career after the age of 40.
This is a bit romantic — I asked her where she would go to eat tonight if she could eat anywhere in the world.
If I could bring my husband I would go to New Orleans and eat gumbo, fried oyster po’boys, shrimp creole. A buffet of all the local specialties.
The italics and boldness are my own doing. After all the years they’ve been together, she doesn’t want to go anywhere without him. That says a lot about who she is, don’t you think?
She’s most proud of a recipe she’s created that has gotten more attention than others. It’s a local speciality of Nantes, where she lives — la Fouace Nantaise.
The fouace really tested her knowledge and understanding of yeast baking, maybe the first real test and she succeeded! Maybe the Far Breton as well. Her husband said it was absolutely perfect and it is a dessert she particularly loves.
These recipes certainly make me drool and wish I was that clever every day but then Jamie makes me feel better (as she always does) by admitting that homemade pizza is her go-to meal when the family is hungry.
When I asked what advice she could give to a new food writer or blogger it’s:
Read, read and read some more; expand your speaking vocabulary which will eventually find its way into your writing. Then take your time to hone your skills, understand your strengths and weaknesses and find your own style and voice; don’t try and sound this way or that; if it isn’t your natural voice it will show. Try and get professional critique and advice and listen to both the positive and negative and use that to evolve. As you get more confident, never stop being humble, never stop evolving.
She’s married to a cook who leaves everything behind him – a tornado of dirty dishes, pots and pans and it drives her crazy. As a result she’s a clean as she goes cook because she knows what a job it will be at the end. I am married to a man who thinks stacking the dishes in the sink is doing all the cleaning up.
Finally, I always end my interviews with questions about food memories. I love how just the aroma of food or seeing a treasured recipe card can bring the best memories flooding back.
I know, didn’t I say up above that her mother wasn’t the world’s best cook? I looked at that a bit funny too but there IS an explanation.
On a recent trip back home, she was rooting through her mom’s kitchen cupboards as she usually does, looking for anything that could slip unnoticed into her suitcase to bring back to France. She came across her mother’s old, battered copy of Our Favorite Recipes, a compilation of family recipes put together by the Sisterhood of Temple Beth Sholom in Satellite Beach, Florida. These are recipes written down and submitted by her mom and her fellow synagogue sisters in the 1960s. And her mother, the woman who hated to cook, was Chairman of the Cookbook Committee!
I stumbled across all of her mom’s recipes, memories of flavors, odors, tastes bouncing around in my head, and there, on page 12, staring back at me, was her recipe for Veal Scallopini, one of the few dishes she made that I just loved.
Here is her recipe, with a few minor changes she’s made, awash in wonderful memories.
- 4 veal cutlets, 1 per person, not too thin (about ¼ inches thick or so)
- ½ cup (65 g) flour seasoned with salt, a generous grinding of black pepper and ½ tsp paprika
- Margarine and olive oil for sautéeing
- 8 ½ oz (250 g) white mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and sliced
- 1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 oz (140 g) tomato paste
- 1 ¾ cups (425 ml) water
- 2 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- Generous grinding of black pepper or to taste
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 3 whole cloves
- ½ cup (125 ml) dry white wine
- Rinse the veal cutlets and pat dry with paper towels. Dredge in the seasoned flour, shake off excess flour and place on a clean plate.
- Heat a large skillet and melt about a tablespoon each of the margarine and oil until bubbling. When the oil is hot, dredge the veal cutlets once again in the flour, shake off the excess and brown the veal over medium-high heat until browned on both sides. Remove from the skillet and reserve on the plate.
- Combine the tomato paste, water, sugar, salt and pepper, bay, thyme and cloves in a bowl and stir until the tomato paste is blended completely in.
- Add a bit more margarine and oil to the skillet and sauté the mushrooms with the garlic for just a few minutes until soft and lightly browned, stirring often.
- Return the browned veal to the skillet and push to bury in the mushrooms. Slowly pour the tomato liquid with the spices and herbs over the veal and mushrooms and bring to a boil, scraping up the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Lower heat and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring often. Add the white wine to the skillet, stir, bring up to a rolling boil. Lower the heat once again to a simmer and cook for an additional 5 minutes to allow the alcohol to burn off and the sauce to thicken.
- Serve over fresh pasta, preferably homemade.
Wonderful article, so good to learn all about Jamie. Love your work, ladies!
What a wonderful interview. But you did get something Very, Very Wrong. You said you are nothing special. Wrong. You, Maureen, are Incredibly Special. Now that we have that out of the way, thank you for sharing about Jamie. I follow her on twitter and am aware of her blog. Sounds like I should get to know her better. And The Beloved grew up on The Space Coast, too, in Cocoa Beach. They were practically neighbors!
LOL, Jenni! You’re too much. I moved to Australia from Geneva, which is between Orlando and the space coast. I used to be able to watch the shuttle go up while I was working in the garden. I could hear it from there too! rumble rumble
Thank you so much and tell your Beloved I grew up in Satellite Beach! I love discovering these connections!
I just told him last night. He was blown away and has decided that your folks must’ve worked for the space program because nobody lived in Satellite Beach except for Space Folks:) His grandfather worked on pre-shuttle NASA projects.
Wendy Read says
Fabulous interview! I just love Jamie and have now learned even more about her than I knew before, just beautiful.
Hi Wendy, nice to meet you. Jamie is really great, isn’t she? I just love her style of writing.
Ming-Cheau Lin says
It was such a pleasure to get to know the Jamie I’ve admired for so long. You are incredible, I’m in awe after having read this interview, and learning more about you as a person and your achievements. I can’t wait for your book-to-be!
Ming-Cheau, I’m waiting for the series! 🙂
Peggy Barnette Dennison says
Loved the article! Jamie and I grew up together in Satellite Beach – a LONG time ago!
Be careful Peggy, you’re dating yourself with a LONG time ago 🙂 Lovely to meet you!
Heather @girlichef says
Beautiful, amazing, wonderful post Maureen – Jamie is absolutely one of my favorite people (and food blogger’s). You chose a wonderful person to spotlight today :).
Such perfect looking macaroons and desserts!
Maureen, there are many reasons you are special I am sure but to me you have been supportive and kind to me with my blog and a true joy for me to read your blog. I enjoyed the story on Jamie. I had no idea she was a co-creator but am heading over to visit the other sites. I love the little things you tell…like about her Mom…just makes people become so much more real when you can relate to things and know more about them. You have a gift of making people seem true to life and adding in things that catch attention! Well done my friend!
That’s a delicious looking veal!! Love the flavours cooked with it! mmmm..!!
Gluten free products says
Great blogging, it’ll inspire a lot people surely, thanks for sharing.
YAY… I have been waiting for this one! GREG
wonderful interview! It’s nice to get to know more about her….
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
I adore Jamie! She’s such a superb writer and I really enjoyed reading this interview with her! 🙂
What a wonderful interview! It was great getting to know more about Jamie and your post was spectacular– you’re a great writer Maureen! That veal scallopini looks delish!!
Great article! You are very talented!
SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa) says
This is a great interview BY a great writer ABOUT a great writer! Lovely to read… and that veal recipe looks like something my other half would go crazy for!
Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb says
Nice to see a food writer friday about jamie!
Jamie was from the beginning a great motivator and support in my own quest, not only that, her blog too with the great recipes, her mesmerizing writing and the tempting pictures of incredible food, she is a very talented person and to me a great friend!
I remember the post about the cookbook jamie you found in your mums house and the Veal Scallopini. i am still intending to make it!
Happy Easter to you Maureen and Jamie! =)
Awww, aren’t you sweet. I’m so glad we’re friends and feel the same way about Jamie and for pretty much the same reasons. Have a terrific weekend.
Chopinand @ ChopinandMysaucepan says
That was a beautiful interview! It’s always so exciting to take an insight into a chef or home cook to see what drives then and the philosophy behind their food and cooking. Thanks for sharing!
You are too kind!
Great piece on Jamie, thanks Maureen. I don’t know how she has managed to slip under my radar, but I’m off now to remedy that.
I feel an affinity with her already as I come from a home where good cooking was very thin on the ground indeed.
At least Jamie has a recipe of her mother’s worth sharing – I cannot say the same.
Oh – and don’t sell yourself short!
Oh what a wonderful post to read! I agree with Jenni, you are truly very special:-) I love following Jamie, and really enjoy her blog. It was wonderful to learn more about her. I agree, that does give you goosebumps that she was a translator at a cooking school…AND learned to cook there! Love it:-) Thank you for sharing, Hugs, Terra
Terra, you and Jenni spoil me. Please stick around. 🙂
Reem | Simply Reem says
Maureen I really really love this series of ur’s…
Such a nice way to introduce us to so many talented bloggers…
It is so nice to know alittle bit more about the person behind a beautiful blog we cherish and follow..
Wonderful article and lovely recipe…
I am so heading to Jamie’s space to explore more in a bit.
What a great post and interview! I’m always so inspired by Jamie’s food! And she really is so supportive and sweet every time I’ve interacted with her.
veal? what type of noodle is that?
Latest: How Hot can You Take?
Yudith @ Blissfully Delicious says
Wonderful introduction! Thanks for sharing Maureen. Happy Easter, and have a great weekend! 🙂
Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking says
Oh what a great interview! I will have to check out her blog. Thanks!
This is such a fun feature and the scallopini … Mama MIA!
Those macaroons look amazing!
I really love these interviews – such a great idea. I’ve read Jamie’s blog for ages – truly good stuff. And this is a nice recipe – veal is one of my fav meats, and this looks to be particularly fine. Thanks for another fun post.
The food blogosphere is evergrowing and is already so huge, it really is tough keeping up and you easily miss out on all the good blogs. Jamie for example, was completely unknown to me albeit being such a successful and talented blogger/writer.
That’s why I love those interviews. Not only do you get to learn more about the bloggers you already know, you are also introduced to the ones you missed out on (may it be bad luck or lack of time). Complete with a bit of insight and backstory, making catching up a bit easier. 🙂
Thank you Maureen!
Hi Tobias and really glad to meet you. I had a look at the Solyanka recipe on your blog and I love it! I must try it this week. It’s supposed to be cool here.
Thank you so much for introducing Jamie! Excellent post! She sounds like an extraordinary cook and blogger. I am hopping to see her blog.
Maureen, this is such a great interview! I’ve been following Jamie’s quite a while and it’s nice to see an interview with her here. Happy Easter!
Norma Chang says
You do such a wonderful job with your interviews, enjoy each and every one.
Ann@Anncoo Journal says
Maureen, After reading this wonderful post that I really enjoy, I must visit Jamie for now.
Will be back for often to read your new post 🙂
Hotly Spiced says
What a great review. And what an amazing career she has had in blogging. Great review. Really enjoyed reading this xx
Kiran @ KiranTarun.com says
Loved reading more about Jamie here, thanks for the feature 🙂
Maureen, Jamie is one of my favorite food writers and a good virtual friend. I just wish we could meet one of these days IRL:)
Thanks for doing this interview! And I almost died giggling when I read your remark about foreigners lurking in that part of Florida and stalking young girls:)
oh no.. not YOUNG girls.. women in general. I was FAR from young when I got caught 🙂
I don’t know how I missed this but I love this interview. I love Jamie!
Thanks Maureen for introducing me to another brilliant blogger. Your writing is a treasure, and you, my dear young lady, are a treasure hunter.
Maureen I’m a huge, if not quiet, fan of Jamie’s… thanks so much for the in depth interview.