(photo by Tami Hardeman)
This week on T5W, I'm excited to introduce everyone to Tami from running with tweezers. Although she's the first Atlanta-based food blogger featured in the series, she's known all around the US. It's safe to say I was pretty pumped when I got her on board!
I first ran into Tami's blog when she started her Eat on $30 challenge. I soon discovered that Tami was a local Atlantan and actually a food stylist (which explains the immaculate photography). The recipes featured on her blog are dishes anyone can cook at home and what really captivated me was how personal she made running with tweezers. Although food blogs are public sites that anyone from around the world can access, it holds a personal significance and meaning (I think) to its owners/writers. Tami's heartfilled post about her parents and the passing away of Charlie were moving posts that really hit a soft spot as I was reading through. Her writing showed me once again how powerful words are and how words can evoke such strong emotions. Thank you for sharing your stories with us Tami and your contributions to the food community!
So...without further ado:
Take 5 With...Tami from running with tweezers
1. I'm confident that everyone in the food blog community knows you already but for those who don't, would you like to introduce yourself?
- [That's sweet of you to say] My name is Tami Hardeman. I'm an Atlanta based food stylist with a blog called Running With Tweezers.
2. How did you start food styling? I imagine it's difficult work and it can get frustrating at times.
- I started styling by accident. A client of mine when I was a fashion stylist asked me to come assist a food stylist they hadn't used before because he was nervous about her abilities. I was knowledgable about food so he thought I might be able to help. I was hooked from the very first shot we did - I started learning to style food from that day on and eventually gave up fashion styling for food full time. Styling food can be difficult, stressful, frustrating, exhausting...but I wouldn't have it any other way.
3. How did you come up with your blog name Running with Tweezers? It's a fun, unique name - I like it!
- Tweezers are one of the essential tools in a food stylist's kit. It's a riff on a favorite book of mine...and it also has a literal meaning: many times in my career, I've been Running With Tweezers.
4. So how was Running with Tweezers born?
- I was standing at a photo shoot - I believe I was working for Arby's that day - and I said "I think I am going to start a food blog". This was when food blogging first really got going and before the era of "celebrity food bloggers". I was obsessively reading Orangette, a beautiful blog written by Molly Wizenberg (which I still read religiously). I have a writing background and wanted to merge my loves of food and writing the way she did. So, I started my blog just like that. I didn't really know HOW I was going to do it. I randomly went to Typepad pondered a name for a day or so, and got underway.
5. What do you enjoy most about blogging?
- I love everything about it. It pushes me to try new recipes, to come up with my own, to work on my photography skills. The things I didn't expect that would come out of having my blog was meeting amazing people - all over the world - that I now consider my friends. The food/cooking blog community online across the country/worldwide is a very nurturing, supportive one and it's been a joy to be a part of.
6. What do you enjoy least about blogging?
- The only negative thing I can think of about blogging is the (seemingly) competitiveness between bloggers in Atlanta. I'm not sure if that's real or something perpetuated by media here or if there really is that underlying current of competition between bloggers here. I think I'm outside the realm of that a bit because there aren't many cooking-based blogs here as there are restaurant/review blogs...but I think it keeps us here in town from having the tight-knit blogger community that other cities - like San Fransisco and Seattle - have. Either that or I'm kept out of the loop because I'm the black sheep cooking blog girl - LOL!
7. Besides your knife...what's your favorite kitchen tool?
- I can't imagine life without my microplane. I will also admit - I use my long aquarium tweezers in the kitchen when I'm plating or working on blog recipes - it's a great way to do detail work on a dish.
8. Favorite ingredient to work with? Least favorite?
- To work with - I do a lot of pasta dishes so I can finesse some noodles like nobody's business. I like the challenge of my work - even when you think you have a food's behavior figured out, it could just be one of those days where the weather is different or the lights or more intense. You are constantly troubleshooting even the easiest dishes. My least favorite thing to work with is anything with gooey cheese - it's kind of a nightmare. You have to work very quickly before it gets cold.
9. One thing you'd ban from food blogs?
- I'm pretty much over the EXTREME FOOD BLOG entries. You know...the bacon explosion. The 12 patty cheeseburger. I have no interest in cooking anything like that at home and most of the photos/blog entries about those types of foods make me a little queasy, frankly.
10. A food or dish that describes you?
- That's a tough question. I think my love of foods and dishes that mix lots of flavors and textures speaks to my personal style and my personality. I have lots of different personality traits and I've never felt confined to doing one thing or another. I like to mix things up a lot while at the same time be nurturing, dependable and comforting. Pho, maybe? The perfect mix of bright herb flavor, soothing delicious broth, the tooth of the noodles and the bite of spice. Plus, soup is a favorite of mine and something I make well and make often.
11. Food that evokes the greatest childhood memory?
- Oh goodness. My mom was a great cook and there are so many throwback dishes that make me think of her and growing up. She made some German dishes (our family background) that if I ate them again would make me swoon. She made a type of dumpling called Knepfla - a dough dumpling you cut randomly with scissors and boil. She would then pan fry them in butter, bacon and breadcrumbs. The thought of it right now makes my mouth water.
(kase knepfla - photo credit 9stitches11stars)
12. Any food in particular you hate/won't eat?
- Green bell peppers. They are the devil's work. I am slowly but surely learning to accept that celery and carrots exist - I can cook with them in soups, etc but the thought of them on their own is pretty gross to me.
13. Favorite chef?
- TV chef, I'd have to say Ina Garten. I love her simplicity and focus on quality rather than bells and whistles. I have enormous respect for David Chang, Michael Psilakis, Mario Batali.
14. ...and for the hell of it - Rachael Ray or Sandra Lee?
- If I *had* to pick, I'd say Rachael Ray. At least she cooks instead of opening cans. Really, though - one being better than the other is like being valedictorian of summer school. (me: LOL)
15. One cookbook that you can't live without or you recommend that everyone should have
- It's not a cookbook...but I think The Flavor Bible is the best food-based book I've ever gotten. So helpful and eye-opening about flavor pairing. There are taste combinations that I, for one, would never have thought go together.
16. Go to meal for week nights?
- Simple pasta dishes. Spaghetti with mint, chilis, lemon. Quick homemade marinara sauce on pasta. I like using the slow-cooker on long shoot days. My mom's short ribs recipe with a cauliflower puree or chicken thighs cooked all day to eat on some quick couscous or orzo.
17. Death row meal?
- Endless bubbly, some country style terrine with cornichons and great bread, my mom's chicken & wild rice soup, the ravioli with a runny egg yolk and shaved white truffles I had at Schwa in Chicago, a great fennel salad and maybe some Yoforia. :)
18. Favorite curse word?
- That would be like choosing my favorite child.
19. Spill it - What trashy TV show(s) do you watch?
- I have never had cable television in my home until I moved in with my boyfriend. Even still - I really only watch the Food Network.
20. Your drink of choice is...
- Wine. I do appreciate a well-crafted cocktail. Love the drinks that Corina at Cakes & Ale comes up with - her fennel martini is bananas.
21. Other hobbies?
- Most of my hobbies revolve around food in some way. Photography, reading, cookbooks, growing stuff/trying my hand at urban gardening. I am trying to get back to running again - would like to do my 8th half marathon this spring.
22. Favorite restaurant in Atlanta? Rest of the US and/or world?
- In Atlanta, I love Abattoir and Cakes & Ale. Also a fan of Pho Dai Loi for pho - Vietnamese is my fave. Outside of Atlanta, the best meal I think I've ever had was at Schwa in Chicago. I'll be in NYC this coming week and am very excited to try Motorino, which everyone has been talking about.
23. Finally, anything you'd like to say to your readers?
- Wow. I would just say thank you. My blog is a very personal place for me and I'm glad my readers come around, read and share their thoughts & feelings with me. I get so much great feedback from them via email and comments on the blog - it's kept me going through the four years I've been blogging. I'm constantly surprised that anyone reads my blog, honestly....so I'm humbled and inspired by the connections I've made through RWT.
Thank you again Tami for taking time out of your day to participate in T5W!