Words By Caterina Dassiè
Kayla Howey is an American food blogger and corporate chef who Quench had the opportunity to interview.
– Hi Kayla. Thank you for your time; it is a pleasure being able to interview you. Let’s get started…On your blog, The Original Dish, there is written that you want to help readers to become more creative and adventurous in cooking…how did you plan to do so? Have you been finding it hard so far?
Being a trained chef and having worked in restaurants, my goal is to bring a little more creativity into the kitchens of home cooks. I mainly planned to do this by introducing exciting flavors, unique flavor combinations, and simple techniques that might not be familiar to most people. In order to keep my food approachable, I started filming quick, unedited recipe demonstrations to show that while my cooking is big on flavor, it’s still simple in method. The demos have been resonating really well with readers.
– I bet they have, everything looks so delicious! When did the idea of the blog come up? Is there something in particular which have influenced you in the decision?
I had initially wanted to go to culinary school right after high school, but with deciding to attend an undergraduate college first, I was always anxious to cook whenever I could. I was studying hospitality management and business in college when I started reading a few food blogs, which sparked the idea of writing my own. After a summer at home of nonstop cooking, I decided to start documenting my recipes. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, so I had the goal of turning The Original Dish into a business from day one. I put things on pause after college when I went to Napa Valley to attend The Culinary Institute of America. After falling even more in love with food and cooking, I started my blog back up after returning home and haven’t looked back!
– I can tell that your business idea has also been successful from day one; you have a pretty good audience on Instagram (38K) – you should be extremely proud, well done! – but the number of food bloggers is increasing day by day, so what do you reckon you have which differs from the others?
Thank you so much! I have a TON of passion and have always been an extremely hard worker. I devote so much of my life to my work because it’s truly what I love to do (I was a competitive figure skater for 15 years, so I learned at a young age how to dedicate my time towards accomplishing goals). I’ve also always had a very good eye for good aesthetics, so I think this gives me an edge with styling food and my photography. Along those same lines, being professionally trained in cooking and constantly exposing myself to great restaurants, I know food really well. I know how to work with flavors and write solid, high-quality recipes.
– And I think through your blog and social media presence you are definitely showing your passion and expertise in the field. Any tips in mind for food bloggers who look at you to get inspired on how to improve their own profile?
I don’t have all that much social media expertise, but I will say that you have to have really amazing content that can clearly and uniquely be identified as your own. You also have to be clear in your goal and why you’re using social media. Having a strong goal will drive all of your other decisions from what you share to how often you share it. For me, social media has simply been a way to showcase what I love to do in the kitchen.
– Thank you for the tips and well…I think you did become a social media expert – at least from my perspective! As you briefly mentioned, you are a graduate in Management and Food Science and former student of The Culinary Institute of America, you must love food, but has it always been your passion?
My first passion, like I mentioned earlier, was figure skating! When I stopped competing due to injury, I almost immediately got interested in food. I needed something new to devote my energy to. My dad is in the restaurant business and loves to cook, so we started cooking together and I sort of just naturally gravitated towards it. Family has definitely had a huge impact on my passion for cooking.
– It must have been hard for you, but I guess food has been a good recovery. Let’s go back to The Culinary Institute of America, how was your experience there? It must have been amazing and challenging at the same time, hasn’t it?
It was definitely an amazing experience, especially being out in Napa where there are so many opportunities and adventures in food and wine. The classes gave me a strong cooking foundation that has been the backbone to my work, and at the same time, Napa itself shaped my love for seasonal, farm to table food.
– Wow..sounds amazing! The weather must have been really nice as well! I am really curious…could you please describe a typical The Original Dish kind of day?
Sure! I’ll typically have two types of days during a week – a cooking/shoot day and a computer day. No matter what, I’ll always start the day with emails and coordinating any fun projects in the works. On a cooking/shoot day, I’ll be in the kitchen as early as possible and basically work until the sun goes down. I’ll either be developing new recipes, shooting already tested recipes, or filming video demos of recipes already on the blog. On computer days, I’ll be editing photos, writing recipes and blog posts, updating the website, brainstorming new ideas, working on projects, updating social media, or working on business related tasks (accounting, contracts, etc.). I’m also really big on continually staying inspired, so I constantly try to check out new restaurants, read cookbooks I love, or make never-ending mood boards with fresh photo ideas.
– You must be a really hard-working person, it really does sound busy. So, you mentioned earlier about your dad’s restaurant. So, where are you from? Where do you live now? And do you still work at your family’s business?
I am from Chicago and have always lived here, other than my couple years in Napa. And yes! I am the corporate chef for our family restaurant business that my dad started almost 30 years ago.
– That’s a while ago, I must be really good. Maybe one day I will have the opportunity to try it out! Unfortunately, we have come to an end…so…Any plans for the near future that you can share with Quench? …I promise, I’ll just tell our readers.
My main goal is to publish a cookbook one day, but nothing in the works yet! Right now, I’m planning to start focusing on video content since it’s so fun and engaging. I also hope to start hosting some local cooking workshops to be able to interact with readers!