By Alexandra Wasiek
Ever since I came across the girlandthekitchen.com blog, I’ve been unapologetically obsessed. Mila has the talent to write in a catchy way that keeps you coming back for me. Her blog is not just a blog you skim right to the bottom to get the recipe, I always indulge in reading her story behind the recipe she is blogging about. In a sense, this brings me even closer to her when I am cooking. Mila is an incredibly hard working moving with an unstoppable determination, that’s the many reason she is my chef woman crush Wednesday (but actually every day). I had the honor to interview Mila and get inside her head. Before you read the interview please go to her blog and subscribe for the latest emails and free ebook giveaways.
Q: How did you start out in the food industry and how long have you been part of the food industry?
Mila: I have been in the food industry since I was 17. I started working as a hostess in a restaurant chain when I was 17 and then moved to the server position as soon as I was 18. However, I was always entranced with cooking and food. It always had a very special place for me in my heart. I found comfort in the smells coming out of my mom’s kitchen. It is something that to this day makes me feel whole. After all these years of being influenced by food…going to culinary school seemed like a no brainer.
Q: What inspired you to begin your own food blog and how did you come up with the name?
Mila: I have been blogging for almost 8 years now. Off and on, and with different names. First I did it as a way to heal after my mother’s death. My writing flowed freely and I found it therapeutic again to cook and write about it. I blogged mostly my mother’s recipes and it seemed to bring me a great deal of closure. About 2.5 years ago, after my students from my cooking class begged to have more access to recipes…I opened up girlandthekitchen.com. The name had no specific meaning except that…I woke up one morning and it came to me. I figured if that was the tactic I used to name my child, that’s how I will name my blog.
Q: What are some obstacles you’ve faced with your blog and how did you overcome those obstacles?
Mila: I deal with obstacles daily! A food blog or any blog is a world of its own and it is constant hurdles. Aside from the photography aspect (which I overcame by practicing and studying different lighting and angles) the hardest aspect was narrowing down my niche. I found really terrific boutique agents who were able to work with me and really narrow down my niche. Since fitness is such a huge part of my life they were surprised how minimal it plays a role on my blog…so we decided to make my blog more like who I was and not try and mimic someone else. We finally came up with the idea that I am 90% healthy (mostly vegan and vegetarian) and when I do fall off the wagon that 10% of the time…my heart strings pull me towards the food my mama cooked for me smile emoticon Limiting what I can and cannot post has been one of the hardest things I had to do…but it is a strategy that is really helping me define who I am in the sea of never-ending food blogs.
Q: What do you love most about your blog?
Mila: Hmmm this is tough…if we are talking about it as a whole..I love the comments from my readers! I LIVE for them!!! It is so comforting to know that people are actually reading my thoughts and my recipes and not just skimming through. And the other aspect I love the most…is the writing. I am a natural born writer and I find a lot of comfort in writing…so when I can share my soul with the world and people actually find the time to read it…I am beyond humbled.
Q: What’s your favorite recipe from your blog?
Mila: Oh Gee! Another really tough one! Ummm my favorite recipe is probably the first recipe I ever published back so very many years ago. It my mom’s chicken soup. It was the only thing I ever ate as a child and it is the recipe that tugs at my heart strings the most. It is also one of my favorite recipes to actually cook. http://girlandthekitchen.com/jewish-chicken-soup-with-matzo-balls-the-real-jewish-penicillin/
Q: What advice can you give to people that are starting out with their own food blogs?
Mila: advice…I can give a few, that I wish I would have known when i first started. -Being a food blogger is HARD WORK. It is seriously the HARDEST I have ever worked! There is always a ton to do. You have to be on top of your game with EVERYTHING! Social media, programming, photography, recipes, trending SEO. And that’s just a piece of it. Be prepared to want to work very hard and assure yourself that this is exactly what you want to do.
-Get yourself a decent DSLR and practice practice practice! Photography is HUGE so make sure your pictures are on point!
– Find your niche. Figure out what separates you from the bunch.
-Be prepared for failure and rejection. It will happen a lot. Develop a tough skin.
-Listen to free podcasts like Food Blogger Pro. In fact sign up with food blogger pro! Go and look at the site foodbloggerscentral.com. My friend Nagi operates it and she had tremendous growth in a very short time. She shares all her juicy secrets smile emoticon Plus she has THE BEST food photography book EVER!
-Join Facebook groups for food bloggers so you can get help and share your recipes.