For our first interview of 2016, I was fortunate enough to talk with Chloe, the creator of What Chloe Cooked. Hers is a site that I’ve admired for quite some time, both for its wealth of recipes collecting cuisine from virtually every corner of the globe, and for Chloe’s obvious adoration of food and cooking that infuses each entry. Regarding having started this interview series, one perk to which I’ve made repeated reference is that it reinforces to me just how much food-loving brethren I have out there, and here I have discovered one more such person. From a penchant for spicy foods to the desire to stroll food markets of the world, Chloe talked with me on a number of topics that would find us occupying common ground.
Flavorful World: Your recipe for Red Pepper and Nduja Baked Eggs was featured in the Adjustamatic Breakfast In Bed recipe eBook. Tell us how that recipe was born, and how you came to be included in the project.
Chloe: Nduja is an ingredient which has really come into its own in the past couple of years and is so versatile. It comes from Calabria in Italy — You can use it for so many things such as stirring into pasta sauces, stews, soups and topping pizzas. I have made different varieties of baked eggs in the past and one morning fancied a spicier start to the day so reached for the nduja. The eBook project was instigated by a follow blogger who, very kindly, invited me to add my contribution. I knew right away that red pepper and nduja basked eggs were perfect to fulfil the brief!
FW: January 16th was International Hot and Spicy Foods Day. Which of your recipes do you feel best embodies the spirit of this holiday dedicated to foods that make our taste buds tingle? Tell us your favorite hot or spicy ingredient(s) to work with, and why it’s such a staple in your kitchen.
Chloe: Hot and spicy foods are a very regular feature in my household and I like to use a range of spicy ingredients from around the world. My kitchen cupboards contain a plethora of different varieties of chillies ranging from the mild to the insanely hot! In nearby London there is a fabulous spice shop where I stock up on dried chillies and spice mixes, some of which most people would never have heard of. I take it as a challenge to find a suitable idea to sue such ingredients!
FW: What inspired you to start your food blog? How do you feel it has evolved since your first post, and to what do you attribute that evolution?
Chloe: My food blog was born in August 2014 after my husband set up a website as a surprise for me as a way of giving me a push to do something with me food. My recipes are accessible and easy to follow and he felt it would be a shame to keep them to ourselves. Through blogging I have been lucky enough to meet lots of new people and become an active member of the food blogging community. I have continued to develop my culinary knowledge and skills by devoting time to keeping up to date with foodie developments and trends. My bookcase is bulging under the weight of recipe books and food reference books!
FW: Your recipes draw on many influences including Asian, French, Italian, and Middle Eastern cuisine. To what do you attribute your eclectic dining tastes?
Chloe: When I was growing up I was lucky enough to eat out relatively frequently and to experience new foods and cuisines. As I have gotten older I have travelled and drawn on inspiration I have picked up along the way. When I am planning my weekly food menu for home I tend to incorporate a mixture of cuisines to keep things fresh and interesting!
FW: Describe your recipe creation process for us. What is your typical timeframe from conception to implementation with regard to sharing a newly created recipe?
Chloe: I find keeping notes of any ideas that come to me is invaluable and so during that day I might tweak and develop the idea. I usually try out new ideas within a few days of devising them (mainly just so I can remember exactly what I was wanting to do!). When I travel I carry a notebook with me to jot down meals I have had and techniques that chefs have used so I can refer back to this and incorporate elements in my own dishes.
FW: In a post from August 2014, you highlighted some of the more attractive food items you discovered while dining and exploring various food markets in France. Name an open air food market in another country (to which you have never been) that you also hope to visit someday. What item(s) would be the first that you sought out upon arriving there, and in what dish(es) would you utilize it/them?
Chloe: I would love to visit the bazaars of the Middle East and the spice market of Marrakech is particularly appealing. Moroccan food is one of my favourites as I love the delicate spicing which is quite unlike the spicing you find in other cuisines. I am interested in the way that ingredients such a rose can be used so this would one of the first items on my shopping list! I would try and utilise the knowledge of the market traders so get some tips and inside knowledge too!
FW: Several of your recipes are described as putting a twist on a classic dish. Tell us about the most memorable restaurant meal you can recall enjoying that featured a similar twist on classic fare. Where did you enjoy this meal, and what was done to make it unique compared to its classic version.
Chloe: When I tend to eat at restaurants they are often those cooking classic dishes so it is usually following my restaurant experiences that twists and changes then come to me. There has been such a focus over the last few years for fusion food and a local restaurant in St Albans called Chez Mumtaj is one of the most delicious examples of it. Their food uses Asian and French influences and the result is simply stunning.
FW: Excluding the name of any of your pre-existing blogs, websites, or print/online personas, tell us what name you would give to your memoir about your culinary exploits?
Chloe: I think something along the lines of ‘Eating the World’ would sum up my love of such a range of different foods nicely! I vow to continue to explore new ideas and ingredients just to make sure I’ve got everything covered… well that’s my excuse for more travelling and tasting anyway!
FW: When you aren’t cooking/eating delicious things, how do you most enjoy spending your time?
Chloe: I live a stone’s throw away from London where there is so much to do. I often head into town to go exhibitions, museums and explore the city a little more. My husband and I try to travel as and when our day jobs allow so we have managed to rack up a fair few air miles in the last couple of years!
*Note to readers: Want to eat your way across the world without the jet lag? Just follow Chloe’s cooking exploits at WhatChloeCooked.co.uk, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram. You’ll never have a bad meal.