For this week’s on Food Blogger Spotlight, I’ve got a special, end-of-year treat for you! The lovely Matt Armendariz of MattBites is here to share some food and photography love with you, my fabulous Wasabimon readers. An accomplished food photographer, Matt has produced images for Time Magazine, Bon Apetit, MarthaStewart.com and more. And then there’s his blog, which quickly became a favorite among the culinary bloggerati. You’ll see some of his work sprinkled throughout this post, and if you’re hungry for more, his portfolio is ready and waiting for your perusal.
There are many reasons why I love this guy, but probably the first and foremost is his infectious enthusiasm for life. He’s a sparkly ball of fun, and I challenge you to spend five minutes talking to him and not walk away with a smile. Go ahead. I dare you. If you can pull this off, you have a stinky gym sock where your heart should be.
Here’s Matt – please give him a warm welcome!
We all have staples that we couldn’t live without. What three ingredients do you *always* have in your kitchen and why? I’m not talking snacks like chips and hummus, but rather ingredients you use all the time in your cooking.
Ah, this is easy! I cannot be without a great olive oil, sea salt and lemons. I think I could do just about anything with those things, and if all else fails I could make preserved lemons!
But seriously, with those things I feel like it is the basis for so many great things. Because I’m around food all the time, sometimes dinner is only roasted vegetables. I’ll slice a few onions, eggplant, squash and potatoes, toss in olive oil and roast, maybe add herbs at the end. I also use lemon zest and juice for so many things and have found with those three things I can make a simple dinner. Roasted chicken, a piece of fish, veggies. You get the drift.
Imagine you moved to the smallest apartment possible – a shoebox, really – and you only had room for a single cookbook. Of all your cookbooks, which one would you keep? Why do you love it so?
It’s have to be Judy Rodger’s Zuni Cookbook. Not only does Zuni conjure up fantastic memories of my meals there over the years, but it encompasses a cooking style and genre that I love. I’m a nut for anything Mediterranean, Cal-med, you name it. There are simple recipes and also some elaborate dishes that take planning. And when I don’t know what to eat, I can always find something from the book to satisfy me.
Blogs have the potential to be so many things, from personal journals to outrageous adventure reports. What is the most important thing you put into your blog, and what is the most important thing you get out of it?
The most important thing I put into my blog is my voice, my ability to communicate honestly and from my personal point of view without restrictions or limits. As a former marketer and art director, you use your skills to communicate but without any personal angle — that’s part of the job. But with my blog I’m able to be me, for better or worse. I also put a great deal of time and energy into posts, treating them as if they were story assignments. If you blog, you realize how time-consuming this can actually be. But it’s worth it.
What I get out of it is much greater than what I put in, though. I have met the most amazing people and made unique connections that I don’t think would have ever happened without blogging. I’ve traveled the world because of blogging, something that still blows my mind. But I’ve managed to find a close-knit group of fellow bloggers who have become my family, quite literally. I laugh silently when people talk about the web being cold or impersonal. For me it’s the exact opposite. That’s the biggest gift I’ve received from blogging.
Bonus photography question: Humans are visual creatures, and great images are a huge part of a blog’s draw. What makes your personal photographic style uniquely yours? What elements do you think set your images apart from other pro food photographers?
When I pick up a camera to make an image, it’s not just me pressing a shutter. I have a background in art direction and graphic design, and I tend to incorporate those elements within each frame. I think of graphic elements and ways to use my image long after I snap the shutter. I’m also a fan of composition, whether intentional or accidental, and that plays an important role in what I do.
And if we’re talking about elements that make images different, I’d have to say my love of propping really comes into play. I’m married to a food and prop stylist and have amassed quite a collection of surfaces, linens, plates, bowls, you name it. I was teaching a workshop at my studio recently and someone asked me about a wood bread board they were using and where it came from. It didn’t dawn on me how unique it was until I told them it was 105 years old from an old bakery. Maybe it needs to go back on its own shelf now.
Thanks, Matt, for stopping in! It’s always a pleasure.
Here are a few of my favorite posts from Matt Bites: