Hey, Justcooknyc, do you live in NYC?
Let’s just say I live in the NYC tri-state area. A little privacy is a good thing.
Are you really from Flushing, Queens?
Yes, I am originally from Flushing, very close to Kissena Park, but my family moved nearby the Jersey shore when I was pretty young. I haven’t lived in either of those areas for a long time.
What is your blog all about?
Cooking, eating out, baking, some travel, and cookbooks.
You’re gluten-free now?
Yes, I went gluten-free right after the new year in January 2012. I’m feeling better than ever. You’ll probably notice a shift in my blog starting around that time since I’m not baking at home as much now, or at least I’m not going to start blogging about it until I become more comfortable with gluten-free baking. A few of my gluten-free dining out posts on my blog can be found here.
Now it sounds like you’re also Paleo?
Not quite. I published the New York Times bestselling The Whole30 and decided to give it a try myself. As you can read here, I had a great experience doing it. Since I finished my Whole30, I’ve been gluten-free (of course), grain-free, legume-free, and dairy-free at home. When I go out to eat, I let up a little on the rules, but I’m still gluten-free and dairy-free just about all of the time. I feel really good.
Your bio says your opinions have nothing to do with your employer. What’s up with that?
I work for a publishing company, but this blog is my own. So it’s a legal thing. I do like writing about some of the books I work on, but I also write about books published by other companies. Either way though, I get a lot of cookbooks for free, so as I often say, my opinions are quite biased.
And your restaurant reviews, are they biased too?
No, I don’t write about places that give me free meals. Most of the time I pay for my own food when I eat out, and if not, I’ll say so in the review. You may have noticed my reviews are all pretty nice. I choose not to write about lousy restaurants. I want to keep things positive on my blog.
What about that book you wrote, Veg Out New York City?
That was different — the reviews ranged from 1 to 4 stars, and no, I don’t love every place in the book. But even in the book, I left some places out if they were awful. The last edition was published in 2006, so the book is really out of date now, unfortunately.
But you’re not a vegetarian, are you?
I didn’t eat meat for a really long time, but I’ve always eaten seafood. Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve been eating meat again. In my line of work, it’s tough to be a strict vegetarian.
What about your other book, The Marshmallow Fluff Cookbook?
It was a fun project, but I wrote it on behalf of the company that makes Fluff. Most of the recipes are from their archives, except for the news ones contributed by some chefs and cookbook writers.
Back to your job — you’re a cookbook editor, right?
Yes, but keep that between us.
Hey, I want to publish a cookbook! Wanna hear about it?
Yeah, but what is the best advice you can give me right now about writing a cookbook?
Don’t rush it, and get a literary agent.
Who does the photography for your site?
I take all of the photos myself, even the behind-the-scenes shots at photo shoots. For my Instagram I use my iPhone. For still-life shots at home, I used to only use a Canon 60D, and for outdoor and location photography, I used to also use a Canon S95 and sometimes a Sigma DP-2. All are amazing cameras, but the Sigma is probably not for everyone (and it’s hard to find in most stores). My new camera is a Fujifilm X-E3. I really enjoy photography, but I still have a lot to learn.
Hey, I’m an aspiring food photographer. Can you hire me?
I do hire photographers for cookbooks sometimes, but most of the people I use are already working professionally and come highly recommended by other professionals I know. My best advice to aspiring photographers is to find aspiring stylists and collaborate so you can build up your portfolios, build a great web site to showcase your work, and take advantage of social media like Instagram to spread the word about your photos.
What happened to your old blog?
I moved everything from Blogger over to WordPress several years ago, 500 posts in all, but shortly after that I started deleting some old posts which seemed really uninteresting to me. Trust me, you didn’t miss much.
Why don’t you have any ads on your site?
Ads seem like a conflict of interest to me right now. I’m blogging just for fun.
I put you on my blog roll, so can you put me on yours?
Sorry, but if you have to ask, the answer is probably no. I finally deleted my blog roll to avoid that kind of question.