This week on Food Blogger Spotlight, I’m featuring a local San Francisco hero. Samantha Tackeff from The Second Lunch is here to give us a little insight into her foodie life (and I’ll give a cookie to whoever knows where her blog name comes from).
Hailing from the eastern shores of New Hampshire, Sam has been blogging in some form since she was in middle school, which makes her an old pro at this game. Her simple cooking style and down-to-earth nutritional information make her site not only a joy to read, but also a valuable resource for anyone who’s looking to improve their diet and not suffer a lack of taste in doing so. At The Second Lunch you will find tempting photos, sage advice and all around great food.
When I introduce people to Sam, I often say that she has “the best job ever.” What does she do that turns me green with envy? She’s the lone, lucky employee of Omnivore Books, a San Francisco cooking-centric bookstore. This little shop is a culinary Mecca! I recommend you get down there if you’re local or passing through the Bay Area. Seriously.
Please give Sam 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.
Good olive oil! And, my Turkish grandmother’s super spice mix made on site at the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul – it has a little bit of everything and is heavy on cumin and ground chile. Actually cumin, in general, is something that finds itself in almost every dish that I make. And you could say that I’m a bit of a condiment addict in general. My kitchen is lined with various bottles of things – oils, vinegars, fish sauce, hot sauce, you name it. I also have a shelf rack of spices, a spice door and extra spices magnetized to my fridge. Oo! And real Turkish bay leaves! My stash is from ones I dried personally off the tree in Istanbul and smuggled in through customs.
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?
I already live in an apartment that doesn’t fit my ever growing cookbook collection, so this isn’t far from reality. Honestly, I have so many of the classics, but some of my favorites are the first Jamie Oliver cookbooks. I cooked every recipe in his first few books, which I’d say 98 percent of which turned out delicious. (I was obsessed – I should have written a book about it.) And it doesn’t hurt that he’s really good looking, and has done really amazing things for both the food world, public health, and school lunches. And he just won the TED prize!
When you’re looking for new recipes (or creating one of your own), what is your number one priority? What makes you pick one recipe over another?
I do a lot of reading about food. I read a dozen or so food magazines and spend hours every day reading food blogs. On my days in the bookstore I spend most of the day reading cookbooks from cover to cover. Rather than picking out specific recipes, my number one priority is just building up a basis of knowledge. That way, when I have ingredients in my CSA box, I draw from all the things I’ve been reading. I’m more of a recipe synthesizer than a follower! I love being creative!
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?
I’ve had a blog since I was in middle school – a handful of people read it, but mostly it was a personal diary, and it didn’t occur to me that I could just write about food. Things changed when I got to college, and they had a internet forum called Foodies, a place where all the food lovers gathered to discuss anything from ingredients, restaurants, recipes, and cultural food ideas. It was such a great community. Think Yelp, Chowhound, and food blogs combined – and best of all, you could actually meet with all the people you were talking with in real life and eat together! After graduation, alumnae are cruelly severed from the forums, and I started food blogging as an attempt to fill the void. It’s really all about the community!
Thanks for stopping in, Sam!
Here are a few of my favorite posts from The Second Lunch: