I’m kicking off a new feature here on Cook With Chef Eitan, and it’s all about some of my most favorite people in the entire world. Since my episode of Chopped aired, I’ve been able to meet some insanely fantastic people in this awesome foodie community… and it’s time that you know them too!
So at the start of every month, beginning now, I am going to introduce you all to another awesome person I’ve met on my crazy journey in the culinary world. I’ll introduce you to all of my favorite bloggers, food personalities, cookbook writers, chefs and many more!
To start this, off I’m going to introduce you to the woman who is the reason I started this blog. Her name is Melinda Strauss, aka “Kitchen Tested”. She is a food blogger, food photographer, recipe developer, and she runs the one and only Kosher Food Bloggers Conference.
I met Melinda a few months ago at the fourth annual Kosher Food Bloggers Conference. I was super excited to meet her because I had been following her on her blog and on social media. At the conference, we instantly became friends, and I even arrived a little early and helped her set up for the conference.
I had so much fun at the conference. It was a great opportunity for me to network with other bloggers. I also learned a ton about food blogging. I am so grateful that she let me attend the conference (I say “let” because everyone else at the conference was much older than I am). If I hadn’t gone, I would never have started this blog. That is why I decided to introduce you to her on my first of post in “People I Love”.
Meet Melinda Strauss!
Eitan: Who are you, what do you do, and where do you live?
Melinda: First of all, thank you so much for the incredible introduction. I think I was equally as excited to meet you as you were to meet me. The famous Eitan Bernath was coming to my conference! So anyways, back to the interview…my name is Melinda Strauss, I live in Woodmere, NY with my husband, 2 kids and a dog. I am a food blogger, food photographer, recipe developer, sous chef, and I run the one and only Kosher Food Bloggers Conference every year the day before Kosherfest.
Eitan: What’s your favorite part of your job?
Melinda: Besides writing and testing recipes, I love that I’ve made so many incredible friends through this industry. Some of them are even lifelong friends now! I never thought that would happen.
Eitan: If you could only have one form of social media for the rest of your life… what would it be?
Eitan: What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever made in the kitchen?
Melinda: Homemade Taffy because you have to pull it yourself and it was also the first time I learned that I need a candy thermometer when making candy (duh!). Oh, and Gushers meatballs. It actually tasted ok. It was sweet and sour but yes, I put candy inside of a meatball.
Eitan: What is the craziest food you have ever eaten?
Melinda: Durian Fruit. It is craziness! Smells like stinky socks. The taste isn’t much better.
Eitan: What was your favorite food when you were a child?
Melinda: Definitely nachos and s’mores. I can’t pick one over the other!
Eitan: What is the one food you would never give up?
Melinda: Chocolate! To be more specific, semi-sweet dark chocolate.
Eitan: Worst kitchen disaster?
Melinda: I hate to admit this but it involves caramel and I pride myself on being great at making caramel. I was trying a new method and following directions that I found online and the directions said to put the pot of finished caramel right into an ice bath to stop the cooking. Well, it turned my caramel pitch black, burnt to a crisp! My whole kitchen was filled with smoke. Never putting caramel in an ice bath again.
Eitan: Haute Cuisine or Comfort Food?
Melinda: Comfort Food all the way!
Eitan: What inspired you to start your blog?
Melinda: I was posting pictures in an album on Facebook. I called it My “Test Kitchen” Projects. I posted crazy things that I was making, including a durian cake and my horrible first attempt at cake pops (before they were cool). One day, my good friend said told me that I should start an official blog and my response to her was “what’s a blog?” I had no idea what that even meant! She showed me a blog called Smitten Kitchen and that’s when it all began.
Eitan: What is your favorite meal of the day?
Melinda: Breakfast. I love cereal, eggs, French toast, pancakes, all breakfast food!
Eitan: What is one kitchen tool you can’t live without?
Melinda: I have two! I love my microplane and my santoku knife! If you would let me pick a third kitchen tool, it would be my food processor. Now I’m just cheating.
Eitan: What is your favorite recipe from your blog?
Melinda: My dairy free Rainbow Layer Birthday Cake recipe that I posted back in 2011. It is the first recipe on my blog that ever went viral. People went crazy over it and it still gets tons of views! People love rainbow food!
Eitan: Which part of blogging excites you most: the recipe development, the post writing, or the photography?
Melinda: Definitely the recipe development!
Eitan: Favorite Ice Cream Flavor?
Melinda: Mint Chocolate Chip. Yum!
Eitan: If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 things would you bring?
Melinda: 1. A lifetime supply of chocolate
2. A good knife or machete
3. A lot of matches
4. And did I mention CHOCOLATE!