This new bi-monthly series, Meet the Blogger, is a way to learn about the blogger behind the blog. If you are interested in participating, get in touch with me through the contact page, and I will send you the information!
Today we will be chatting with the wonderful Catherine from Living the Gourmet. LTG is full of the most delicious recipes for everything from steak, to dips and breakfast items. I want to try all of the desserts! In addition to the recipes, the food photos are amazing and make you hungry just looking at them. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed!
Where are you from?
Long ago, in a kitchen far far away….
Or at least that’s how it feels sometimes, having been born and raised on Long Island, New York less than an hour from “The City.” The truth is, New York is the sort of place where trends are first born, and where you last see them right before they fade away. A vogue dish springs up from a little bohemian dive, or is conjured from the mind of culinary genius in the heat of a posh kitchen, before sweeping the culinary world and finding its way onto TV. After the rest of the world has had a taste, it gets imitated and served to Times Square tourists right before fading away, and starting all over again.
From that perspective, it really is a great place to be doing what I’m doing, since I have a front seat the entire time.
For example, one of my earliest ‘restaurant memories’ involved eating at a now well-known Italian restaurant in the Bronx with my grandfather – Dominic’s. He was a regular there, and so he could walk in like he owned the place, and be treated like royalty. Think old world charm and well-worn wooden chairs, with the aroma of red wine, cigars, and sauce hanging thick on the air. It served the kind of Italian cooking that the ‘first generation’ enjoyed, and that now exists largely only in our memories. If you’re feeling adventurous, I suppose you could still seek out that very special brand of authenticity, but it becomes more and more of a challenge with each passing year.
That’s part of what I try to convey on Living the Gourmet.
Can you tell our readers about yourself and your blog?
Picking up from the last question, since I grew up in a first generation Italian family, I’ll admit that it’s hard watching the traditions and cuisine that I once took for granted fade away. To that point, in 2008 my son suggested I start a recipe blog so that the food he grew up with would never be lost, and by late 2008 Living the Gourmet had gone live.
The first few years, I have to say, were really a learning process more than anything else. I was a total novice at this, as was my ‘crew’ – my son and daughter. Learning the ins and outs of social media, how to produce quality content, and carving out a niche for what I wanted to do, were all things we needed to learn before anything could really get off the ground in a meaningful way.
As the site grew, I have to say that our focus didn’t change, instead it expanded with our audience. Then, in 2014, we received one of our first big breaks, landing an interview with the late great Jackie Collins, and shortly thereafter an interview with the former Executive White House Chef John Moeller. Things really began taking off from there, and we were allowed to begin building and shaping our brand in ways that, frankly, we had never envisioned.
How did you first get into blogging?
Initially, my son wanted to ensure that my recipes would never be lost, and so I started a blog. Again, it really cuts to what I spoke about in the first two questions, about being able to hold onto traditions and original cuisines, and not letting those fade with time.
So, I have to say Living the Gourmet really started off purely as a work of love. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I ever envisioned interviewing the Iron Chefs, or Jackie Collins, or the White House Chef, and if you were to ask me ‘how’ any of that actually happened, aside from just putting time into the site every single day, I really probably wouldn’t have an answer for you. Sometimes, things just take on a life of their own, or just ‘click,’ and that’s probably a good part of what happened here.
What do you wish you knew when starting your blog?
I’m going to be honest, I really can’t think of anything I would ‘reveal’ to that 2008 version of myself. I think how you respond to the unknown, and what you learn from those experiences, is a big part of what shapes you going forward.
And, let’s be honest, the secret to success is that there isn’t one. As I said before, those first few years were a learning process, but we were learning about ‘how’ to do things like social media, finding an audience, learning how to produce quality content, things of that nature.
Again, things do have a way of falling into place, provided you put in the work and the time. Those are the two big ‘secrets,’ work and time, and we always had that. Beyond that, I do believe that everything in this ‘blogging journey’ was a building block towards getting me where I am now, and setting my trajectory for the future. So I really can’t say I would change anything, or do anything different looking back.
Where do you see your blog in 5 years?
I really can’t give away too much, but suffice it to say that I do believe Living the Gourmet is going to continue to grow in ways that are big and exciting, and that continue to build on the brand that we’ve established for ourselves.
What is your favorite aspect of blogging?
That it is purely creatively driven, with almost immediate feedback for everything that happens. Innovation, creativity, and quality are what drive success. That, and the constant, direct back and forth with the audience. You put out an article, and there’s instant feedback, you know right away if it’s a success, or if it struck a chord with the readers, and I love that. It’s a creative industry, and it is – largely – a meritocracy. More often than not, you get out of it what you put in.
In that way, there really are no limitations, since innovation, creativity, and quality, is what gets rewarded.
If I gave you $100, what beauty items that you don’t own would you buy?
I’ve always been a fan of Borghese cosmetics…I would definitely treat myself and pick out some new palettes.
What skin care or beauty steps do you religiously take time for?
I’m very basic when it comes to a routine and I don’t believe in anti-aging products.
There is something uniquely beautiful about aging gracefully, but I believe that what you put in is what you get out.
As long as you exercise often, eat healthy and protect your skin that is all you really need.
I make sure to cleanse my skin the in the morning and at night. I will sometimes indulge in a Noxzema mask, but I also find vitamins are a great way to keep your skin in its best shape.
What five fantastic products do you use now, and why do you love them.
Nivea Lip Care in Honey and Milk is one of my favorite products because of its light and non-waxy formula, I remember to apply it often.
With that said, I also love Nivea cream. It’s rich and thick, keeping my whole body moisturized and feeling great.
Vaseline is one of those classic, but tried-and-true products. I apply it to my lashes at night to keep my eye area moisturized.
As I mentioned above, I love doing a Noxzema mask every so often. It not only cleanses but keeps the skin feeling soft. It’s a hassle-free trick. In place of my nightly cleanser, I will add some baking soda to the Noxzema as well. It leaves my skin feeling tingly and refreshed.
Recently, I was introduced to Biossance – the Revitalizer. It’s a fragrance free, all natural body oil that can be applied head to toe. It’s a splurge but one that is definitely worth it.
What are two beauty blogs we should check out, and why do you love them?
I love Cup of Jo. My daughter introduced me to her site a while ago and ever since then, I check it out regularly. She delivers daily anecdotes on life and things in general, and she runs this beauty series that I just love, where she interviews women from all over. So you’re not just getting this ‘beauty product review’, but you’re learning about the different cultural beauty routines from real women. It’s really refreshing and a wonderful read.
I also love BleuBird because she has such a relaxed perspective on conventional beauty, and being she’s a mom I feel that I can relate to her even more than those strict beauty sites. I’m not looking for new looks, I’m looking for products and ways to simplify my life.
What is your favorite post to date?
I have to be honest and say that any post that cuts directly to the ‘core’ of why I first started Living the Gourmet is a favorite, since those are the posts where I am really expressing both myself and the purpose behind the site. For example my Grilled Shrimp Kebobs with Fresh Tzatziki, or my Flounder Filets with Pesto.
Do you prefer getting dressed up or being casual?
As a devotee of Oscar Wilde, I’ll say that “One can never be overdressed or overeducated.”
Let’s be honest, you never know who’s going to show up behind your door, even on the laziest of days, and for those surprise visits, whether business or social, I want to look like I knew they were coming. When I’m going out, I firmly believe that I am my own best ambassador, and naturally I need to look the part.
What do you do in your spare time?
Time that is spare? What is this of which you speak?
In seriousness though, I enjoy browsing for new music, and giving the old “college try” at diminishing an ever growing mountain of books that I intend on (eventually) reading. “Books are the weapons of the mind,” after all.
My little ‘eccentric activities’ include sitting at my bay window and truly “doing nothing” for a few moments at a time, usually with an espresso that I’ll end up silently critiquing to myself – since they never seem to come out quite right. Reviewing and counting the catalogue of my growing “LTG Wine Cellar” is another, more recent activity for when I’ve a spare few minutes that I don’t know how to fill.
What is your favorite thing to do on a lazy weekend morning?
I was never big on weekend mornings, but a weekend night ritual that I used to enjoy, but which has since entered the realm of “Meant to do,” was my ‘just because’ Saturday Night Parties, where I would put together big meals, and turn the radio way up. Lots of fun memories there.
More recently weekends tend to be rather hectic, so that’s fallen out of tradition, unfortunately.
Where can we find you?
Before I get to the pitch, I had to chuckle here, I thought to myself “If you’re trying to find me online but can’t it seems I’m doing something terribly wrong.”
Of course at Living the Gourmet, and please do follow along on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+ for updates and some BTS snaps! It’s all good fun, and I promise it’s all quite delicious. Good food, good wine, and strategies for keeping the guests impressed – it’s what we do.