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Kelly Janke's interview

Interview by Jill Interview by Jill

We interviewed Kelly Janke!

Visit the blog: Left Side of The Table.

See profile page and recipes

Hello Kelly Janke, so tell us...

When did you begin your blog, and what inspired you to start it?

I started my blog in October 2013, and i'm so happy I did! What inspired me to start LEFT SIDE OF THE TABLE was my deep love for all things food. Food is literally on my mind all the time whether it's recipes, restaurants, food issues or even simply my next meal, I have an undeniable love for it. My friends and family actually used to tell me I should start a food blog. For the longest time I ignored it, not fully understanding what the blog world was. At the end of Summer 2013 I decided I wanted a career in the food industry. I decided having a food blog would not only be a great way to share my love of food with people but a solid base to help my career.

What was your most memorable meal? Where was it?

This one's a hard one! I feel like I've truly had so many wonderful meals. But if I had to choose, it would be when my sister Kristin came to visit me while I was studying abroad in Paris, France. We had a fabulous dinner at a place called Relais de Venise -L’Entrecôte in the 17th arrondissement. This restaurant is an idyllic Parisian restaurant, that my dear friend told me about. An interesting thing is they have one thing on the menu; steak and fries. But not just any steak
and fries, a tender piece of perfectly cooked steak slathered with a special green sauce, served with perfect shoe string French fries. The main entree is served in two parts so your food is warm until the last bite. The meal started with a classic French salad and, of course, French bread. I vividly remember sitting there with my sister, in a packed restaurant surrounded by people speaking beautiful French, sipping red wine and loving the fact that we were both in Paris, sharing an amazing meal. A meal is more than just about the food to me - who you're with and ambiance play a huge role.

What are your culinary influences?

I have so many different culinary influences. My first one was my grandma Ruth. I always thought she was the best cook in the world. Plus I would hear stories about her mother Mabel's wonderful cooking and was always inspired by those stories. When I was in middle school and high school I used to watch two episodes of 30 minute meals with Rachael Ray nearly every night. I adore Rachael's wacky personality and casual love for food. Another big influence was my time living abroad. I studied abroad twice. First in Sweden and then in France. Europeans have such a different way that they view food and how they connect with it. Another big influence were the food documentaries: Food Inc. and Food Matters. I'm a sucker for a good documentary and these two specific ones totally changed my perspective on the United States Food Industry.

Your photos are beautiful, what tips and tricks do you have to take appetizing photos?

They say people eat with their eyes, and that's entirely true. I didn't realize how finicky you had to be with food pictures at first. One main tip I've definitely learned is, you need to take pictures of food in natural light. No light bulb will give the same effect in food photography than real sunlight. Having a good background is another key. Nice white plates/bowls/serving dishes. Not taking pictures too close to the food (I think I still struggle with this one a bit - you want people to actually know what they're looking at!) I'm definitely trying to improve my food styling and photography with each post I do. You can totally see the difference too! I still shoot with my iPhone 5s and cannot wait to get my hands on a DSLR.

What is your earliest food memory?

One of my earliest food memories would be making Christmas cookies with my grandma Ruth when I was about 5. All of us granddaughters would go to her house and cram in her small kitchen and bake sugar cookie cut-outs and then frost and decorate them. I remember sneaking too much of the delicious almond cookie dough! We still carry on that tradition today!

What are your guilty pleasures when it comes to food?

I have quite a few guilty pleasures, but I'm all about balance. Eat everything in moderation. Too much of anything is bad! I'm a sucker for pizza. I love a good piece of high quality homemade pizza, either loaded with toppings or just with pepperoni! Hold the green peppers and anchovies though! I'm also a sucker for ice cream. I love Ben and Jerry's Red Velvet, Brownie Cheesecake, and Cake Batter. Above all, cookie dough wins. You can find me next to the fridge at 2am sneaking it. As you can see I used the word quality a lot..that's because if I'm gonna splurge, I want it to be the best!

Is there any dish, ingredient or type of food you refuse to cook? Or anything that you refuse to eat?

I'm really not that picky with food. However there are a few things I don't really like. I usually will never eat or use pickles. I've never liked them..even though I love cucumbers and will even eat dill pickle chips. I'm not a fan of mayo except in deviled eggs and potato salad - it's a texture thing. I usually won't cook with green peppers - too bitter. I buy red, yellow and orange instead!

What sparked your interest in the quest for quality food?

Living in France for sure. They eat everything we are told not to in the U.S (breads, cheese, dessert, wine) yet they are much thinner and healthier. They eat fresh food that is not chemically treated and loaded with preservatives. You can go out and buy a baguette that was made that morning, or a piece of cheese from a specialty cheese shop. The French have an amazing connection with food. There is a difference between Americans who eat a Snickers bar for dessert, and someone in France who eats a freshly prepared tart. Also after seeing the food documentaries Food Inc. and Food Matters, I didn't realize the United States food industry was so commercialized.

My worst food flop was...

One time in college, my roommate and I always bragged about how much we loved to cook and how good we were at it. It was one of our roommates' birthday so we decided to bake her a triple layer red velvet cake. Well, we were making the cake, put it in the oven, and realized we forgot to add the eggs! HUGE flop. Cake did not turn out, and was a good laugh. I still remind my friend of this and we have a good laugh!

Anything else you would like to share?

In the fall I will be starting classes to get a Culinary Diploma at the International Culinary Center in New York City. I am beyond thrilled to start this new adventure across the country and have the chance to learn and sharpen my cooking skills!

Thank you Kelly Janke for answering our questions and see you soon!
Published by Jill - 07/15/2014

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Comment on this interview

This is such an interesting interview Kelly!

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